Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Kofa NWR – my letter

barrel cactus

For what it is worth, here is the letter I just sent to the people Ron listed in the comments of my previous Kofa post. The address for Tom Harvey isn’t correct (or he no longer works there) so skip him until you get an update from me or Ron!

I am writing to request that the AGFD Bighorn Sheep 4-17-07 recommendations be halted until there is public review and comments on the agencies’ recommendations.

Recent decisions, such as the construction of the big game guzzlers on sensitive refuge land and the killing of the Mountain Lion, as well as the secrecy in which these actions have been carried out without opportunity for public comment call into question the ethics of the entire group of Kofa managers.

A basic, if tricky to model, biological concept is the fact that predator-prey populations are linked in such a way that the predator does not hunt a species into extinction. Unless the predator is human.

When the predator (by choice, not necessity) is human an entire new set of rules applies, and ethics as well. Humans do not need to eat meat to survive, let alone hunt. Mountain Lions, as obligate carnivores, need to eat meat, and given that there’s no Mountain Lion drive-through for them to get their dinner, they are required to hunt for their very survival.

The human-imposed rules on the Mountain Lions living in the Kofa NWR, such as a Mountain Lion being allowed to prey on only two bighorn sheep in a six month period on pain of death, is absurd and unethical. That is compounded by the hypocrisy behind the decision – kill the Mountain Lions, which are being tracked via radio collar making their death easy to ensure by the hunters, in order that the hunters may kill the same sheep for sport which the Mountain Lions are not allowed to kill for their survival. The hunting permits should be abolished, permanently, and the Mountain Lions allowed to live without interference.

The Kofa NWR appears to have been acting and making decisions purely for the benefit of the extremely small population of hunters. Meanwhile the original guidelines for the Wildlife Reserve prohibited hunting. The reserve should be for the benefit of the wildlife that live there, with humans allowed only limited access, in areas where they will not disturb sensitive ecosystems and the native population in sensitive times. Hunting should be made illegal.

There is simply no justification for the hunting permits. Not from an ethical or scientific standpoint. Furthermore, the National Wildlife Refuges are not private lands of the hunters. Their desire for blood sport should not take precedence.

I urge you to reconsider and reevaluate recent decisions, to stop all hunting, and to allow public review and comments.

I hope that if enough of us write, we really will make a difference. They are presumably answerable to us, the taxpayers, after all. But even if you are not a US Citizen, please do write. After all, tourism is money, and money is king.

I also wrote a quick note to the two reporters who covered the issue recently, thanking them for their attention to this issue. Expressing our appreciation to the reporters who are covering animal issues is one way to help ensure they will continue to do so. And we need all the help we can get.

Please, if you have a few minutes, write to the Kofa and AGFD managers whose email addresses Ron provided earlier. Even if it is as short as simply requesting that the 4-17-07 AGFD Bighorn Sheep recommendations be halted and a chance for public review be allowed, it would help.

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12 responses to “Kofa NWR – my letter

  1. surplusvalue July 12, 2007 at 3:42 am

    I’m not sure I could form a letter as poignant as yours, but I’ll see what I can do.

    Although, as you said, this rides on the basis that they are indeed answerable, and in any way accountable to taxpayers. I guess only time will tell on that count.

  2. RichB July 12, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I sent a letter though it may not be as poignant as yours, it is something and 10,000 mediocre letters will have a greater effect than one perfect letter.
    I found a link on the U.S.FWS site that discusses that their is 1.4 billion dollars generated by National Wildlife Refuges and that 80% of that money comes from tourists, so yes as Deb said there is value in sending letters from everywhere

  3. Deb July 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    luke, a letter on our side is the most important thing. Rich did a great job finding the numbers. Money talks, they’ll listen.

    The thing to keep in mind, when looking at the management’s response to the public, is that the hunters are having their say too. There are probably around the same number of hunters as there are people outright opposed to hunting in this country. Or so said a hunting website I looked at today. That leaves the rest of the people who don’t care enough either way. (a vast majority!)

    The fact that the hunters’ wishes keep getting put on top tells me one thing, mainly – they’re being more vocal than we are.

    Rod Coronado told me that he used to go to the AZGFD public meetings when these hunting issues would come up, and he would be the one and only person there who was not a hunter. What does that say about us, when there really aren’t more of them than us…

    So, this is my kick in the butt to you – write a letter. Be polite, use spell-checker, make sure to include that one sentence I mentioned above, and if you want, hint that decisions regarding hunting influence your tourism dollars.

    If it is a 2 sentence letter, good enough, as long as you’re making your view heard!

  4. Neva July 12, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    A very good letter. I need to do this too.

  5. Deb July 12, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks Neva. Please do write a letter! Even a short one. We need to be as vocal as we can be!

  6. surplusvalue July 13, 2007 at 12:00 am

    I’m sorry if I came off as being reluctant to send a letter. It wasn’t my intention. In hindsight, I’m not even entirely sure what I was getting at with he second paragraph. *Shrug*.

    You hit the crux on its head: money talks, and our view is going unheard under the dominate hunter-orientated view.

    If we have an opportunity to express ourselves about an issue that is so clearly and abhorrently wrong (to us, the minority, at least), then, I guess, to not do so is only at the unacceptable expense of the non-human animals.

    So, thanks for the kick in the butt – I’ll write a letter after I post this comment. Cheers.

  7. surplusvalue July 13, 2007 at 1:28 am

    I used your letter as base (erh.. stole 😉 ), and have no idea what exactly “ethical tourism” is, but:

    I am sending this to voice my concerns with regard to the AGFD Bighorn Sheep 4-17-07 proposals. I request that these recommendations be discontinued until, as occurs in other Arizona Regions, a public review of the documents be undergone prior to any implementation.

    Recent moves made, such as the unscientific and unethical killing of the Mountain Lion, jeopardize and pressure the existing delicate ecological balance within the National Wildlife Refuges. Beyond this, officials have a stated duty of establishing a safe, and thriving refuge for wildlife, which is being hazarded by their insistence on ignoring the biological notion of predator-prey relationships and the original guidelines for the Wildlife Reserve. These guidelines prohibited hunting.

    The reserve should function in a manner that befits its purpose: to be a refuge for wildlife. That is, there should be minimal human interference on the reserve, and the wildlife that live there should benefit and be allowed to prosper safely.

    Contrary to their duty, the Kofa NWR is, ostensibly, determining the fate of the reserve with only the interests of a small collection of hunters at heart. The secrecy in which this has been done is unethical to say the least. The NWR should encourage public reception on the matter as it is indeed public land.

    I, and many others, hope that you will act decisively in reviewing recent decisions, placing a halt on all hunting, and encouraging public discussion of the matter at hand. We implore you to act in accord with the principals of ethical tourism.

  8. Deb July 13, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Excellent Luke!

    Thanks so much for sending a letter. I provided my letter partially so people could steal parts if it if that would help. I stole a couple sentences from Ron, after all!

    Sorry if I came off as harsh in any way with the kick in the butt, though I’m not sorry if it helped you get the letter written! I often need a nudge to get things done, and in fact I owe much of my Kofa posts to Ron’s persistence in keeping me updated. Only the first one or two were on my own.

    I really agree with this:

    If we have an opportunity to express ourselves about an issue that is so clearly and abhorrently wrong (to us, the minority, at least), then, I guess, to not do so is only at the unacceptable expense of the non-human animals.

    Very well said. There is a mountain lion out there on Kofa who is wearing a radio collar right now. If he kills two bighorn sheep, they’ll want to kill him. There are 12 bighorn sheep hunting permits waiting to be used this winter unless we can convince them otherwise. What we say, or whether we say it, could directly impact the fate of these animals.

  9. Ron August 7, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Mr. Cornes is leaving the refuge manager’s position at Kofa NWR. Your letters and those of other’s have helped make this change. As so often happens in the federal government, Mr. Cornes is getting a promotion to his new position in Region 6 as a regional refuge supervisor. Mr Thomas Harvey has that same position in Region 2… his correct email address is thomas_harvey at fws dot gov (sorry for my mistake and his name is important because Mr. Harvey supervises Mr. Cornes). Mr Cornes will be supervising all the refuge managers in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas! Life is not fair, as we all at some point realize and must accept.

    Thank you again for your letters. I had major computer problems so I missed being able to respond sooner, but now I have a new computer to keep up with current issues.

  10. Deb August 7, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the update Ron! I’d wondered where you had disappeared to. I’m glad it was “just” computer issues, and that you’re back online now.

    As always, in this (and every) movement, we get good and bad news mingled together. Though I do hope that on some level things are better for the individual animals if Mr. Cornes’ supervision is one step further removed. I suppose much will depend on who takes his place at Kofa, with regards to the mountain lions and bighorn sheep themselves. Have you heard anything?

  11. Ron August 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Deb, I will post here when I learn when the Kofa position will be advertized and I trust that someone will not try to “appoint” a person as Mr. Cornes was appointed through cronyism. The only way to get the most qualified person as the Kofa manager is to go through the complete, fair, and open OPM hiring practices and give every prospective candidate a fair chance based on their KSAs and previous refuge manager experience. I know of several excellent candidates, one especially qualified with bighorn experience.

  12. Ron September 3, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Kofa Update: The satellite tracking collar malfunctioned and fell off of the second collared cougar so if the AGFD is stating the facts, this lion escaped the death fate of the first collared lion.

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