Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Kofa NWR – please write letters!

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I received an email today from Ron, who worked for many years at Kofa as a biologist. Looks like the Kofa managers are at it again, trying to open the refuge up for mountain lion hunting. Some of you may remember that they tried to do this earlier and it was cancelled because of a court ruling – the Kofa managers hadn’t done an environmental review. This time they’re trying to blame the declining bighorn sheep population on the mountain lions as an excuse to hunt the predators.

There are two really obvious problems with this argument. First of all, there is no evidence of any sheep kills by mountain lions this year. Second of all, they have 10 hunting permits for humans to kill sheep for December 2007.

Let’s think about this – we have a declining bighorn sheep population, there have been no kills by mountain lions; is the obvious solution going to be opening a hunt on mountain lions, or canceling the hunt by humans?

For years at least some scientists have been trying to educate the public on the importance of the large carnivores in the overall ecosystem’s health.

Aldo Leopold, the father of modern wildlife management and author of A Sand County Almanac, admonished wildlife managers to retain all the pieces of our ecosystems(1953). Using modern analysis, present day ecologists are finding Leopold’s directive to be right on the mark. Predation and particularly predation by large carnivores is a necessary component of all healthy ecosystems. Study after study has shown that predator loss leads to biodiversity loss (Diamond 1992). Large predator presence is so important, in fact, that conservation biologist John Terborgh (1988) wrote that “Disrupting the balance by persecuting top carnivores, by hunting out peccaries, pacas, and agoutis, or by fragmenting the landscape into patches too small to maintain the whole interlocking system, could lead to a gradual and perhaps irreversible erosion of diversity at all levels – both plant and animal.” Recognition of this importance has prompted leading wildlife professional organizations such as The Wildlife Society and The Society for Conservation Biology, to dedicate special issues of their journals expressly to predator ecology and conservation. Moreover, these scientific societies have placed the restoration of predators high on their list of conservation priorities.

Likewise, other predators hunt differently and take different animals at different times and under different circumstances. Predator-prey relationships are very complex and have evolved over thousands and thousands of years. As our understanding of the interplay between predators and prey has increased, so has our acknowledgment these relationships should be maintained intact.

The science simply backs up my ethical stance on hunting. Leave the predation to the carnivores, and let humans practice compassion and good health instead. I hope you take the time to write a letter to the Arizona Game and Fishing Department’s Commission. They are meeting this Saturday, April 21, 2007, so now is your chance to let your voice be heard. To speak for the mountain lions as well as the bighorn sheep. The managers of the refuge don’t seem to care about the animals in their refuge nearly as much as they care about the money they would make from selling hunting permits. Hopefully together our voices will be loud enough to make a difference.

Contact information:

State that the e-mail should go to the Commission in the Subject Line and the body of the e-mail. DirectorsOffice at azgfd dot gov.

Catalina State Park

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6 responses to “Kofa NWR – please write letters!

  1. Ron April 18, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Here is an artilcle entitled: Request calls for state to manage Kofa bighorns

    http://www.yumasun.com/news/fish_33352___article.html/bighorn_game.html

    The thinking is if the Arizona Game and Fish Department could manage the refuge bighorn population they would allow a hunt to harvest lions that hunters unjustifiably think are killing many of the sheep.

  2. rjtorres April 19, 2007 at 9:21 am

    I agree — let’s leave predation to the carnivores. The goal, of course, is to open lands to hunting so that precedents can be set, and therefore, the preservation of the area can be gradually rolled back. This happens over and over and over again, so much so that it is saddening.

    Anyway, thanks for this thoughtful entry.

  3. Ron April 19, 2007 at 9:39 am

    The vote on Saturday, April 21 is for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Commission to decide if they will accept the 10 bighorn hunt permits recommended for Kofa NWR. If you oppose the 10 permits for rams and would like to recommend a reduction in the number of permits issued, or no hunting at all until the bighorn population recovers to acceptable levels, inform the Commission of your recommendations. The Commission is composed of fair-minded people who will listen to your comments.

  4. Deb April 19, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Bob, the precedent is definitely a big issue, and one they would use if they go forward with a mountain lion hunt. It is an excuse, as far as I can tell.

    Ron, thanks for the clarification and additional direction on how to appeal to the Commission. We can’t help our cynicism, but that is no excuse for not taking action. The Commission might or might not listen to the letters we send, but they certainly can’t listen to letters we don’t send.

  5. Ron April 25, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are not going to lower the 10 hunt permits for Kofa rams.

    I thank those people who contacted the AGFD Commission.

  6. Deb April 30, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I was afraid of that. Thanks for the update Ron!

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