Ron emailed me today with some very sad news. Another radio-collared Mountain Lion living in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge has been killed. He was deemed “offending” because he killed sheep. For food.
AZGFD: Game and Fish removes sheep-eating lion
You can see in the language in this Arizona Game and Fish Department press release exactly how absurd they are being:
The mountain lion was killed in accordance with the department’s May 2007 “Kofa Mountains Complex Predation Management Plan,” which is in place to monitor and limit predation during recovery efforts of this historic and critically important bighorn sheep population. The plan stipulates that an offending mountain lion—defined as one that kills more than one bighorn sheep within a six-month period—may be lethally removed when bighorn sheep population levels are below a certain threshold.
If a lion kills more than one sheep in six months, they’re killed. And given that this lion was wearing a radio collar, it wasn’t exactly difficult for them to perform this canned hunt, was it?
It is offensive. Especially when you understand that in the middle of the hunter’s hysteria regarding the predation of the lions on the sheep, the sheep numbers have been increasing.
The action was taken in a continuing effort to help restore the struggling Kofa bighorn sheep population, whose numbers declined more than 50 percent from an estimated 815 in 2000 to a low of 391 in 2006. The most recent survey in 2008 indicated an estimated population of 436.
There has never been any analysis done to determine whether the “estimated 815” of 2000 was a sustainable population. The assumption by the people (who want to kill the sheep themselves) in the AZGFD has always been that since the numbers were once that high, that’s how high they should always be. Never once, despite their proclaimed concern for the Bighorn Sheep (“Mountain lion populations throughout the state are healthy and they are neither rare, threatened or at risk. The same can’t be said for this bighorn sheep population.”), have they considered reducing let along eliminating the hunting licenses they sell to the highest bidder. Hunting licenses for the sheep they claim are “rare, threatened and at risk”. And thus, apparently, more valuable than the Lions, but whose primary value is tied to the hunting licenses and the profits that brings in.
As for the “healthy mountain lion population”, there might be none left on Kofa right now. At the peak, there were 5. Three have been confirmed killed and one had the radio collar “drop off”, which could easily mean the lion was killed and the death was covered up.
Nevertheless, I’m asking you to comment on the Draft EA. Ron has made some good suggestions in the comments on my earlier post on this. Namely that you write in with your support for the “No Action Alternative A” plan, but that ideally you bring up issues with regards to that plan. It is the best of the three, but it is far from a “No Killing Alternative” which should have been included. Here’s (part of) what Ron said:
The very title of the current Plan effectively limits and restricts our comments to how many and where lions are killed. However, that should not prevent people from still commenting in the DEA to save lions from any death by humans within the boundary of Kofa NWR. Simply stipulate—in your own words—that if the Service refuses to consider public comment- based Alternatives that prevent all GPS-collaring that could lead to lion killings, that you—without much choice except through possible litigation—support Alternative A: No Action Alternative.
Furthermore, if you are pressed for time in this hectic life and know that you want to allow for as many mountain lions as possible roaming free and wild on Kofa National *Wildlife Refuge*, e-mail your brief comment simply stating that you support the No Action Alternative A.
E-mail comments to KofaLionComments@fws.gov
There should also be a “No Radio Collar” aspect, since despite the good intentions of the research plan at it’s start, the Radio-collaring has ended up being a death sentence for every single lion who has worn one. (And there go our tax dollars down the drain, too.)
AZGFD gets a lot of money from the hunters, and it shows. Yet they remain publicly accountable. This is our chance to do what we can to speak up for the lions. Though it looks like they have succeeded in killing all the lions on Kofa, this plan will be in place for future lions who migrate to the now open territory.
Edited to add: links to two articles about this killing. There are some important quotes by Dan Patterson as well as Ron Kearns:
I especially want to bring up two points Ron made in the 2nd article:
- “Mountain lions scavenge prey, so there is no way to tell if a sheep was scavenged or a freshly lion-killed.”
- Kearns added that the three lethally removed lions had only killed a combined 26 bighorn sheep in 2-1/2 years, which is far less than officials remove from the herd on a yearly basis.
Both of these points highlight how biased the AZGFD is in their anti-mountain lion and pro-hunter perspective.