Monday, October 27, 2008

AGFD kills mountain lion in Forest Service fee area

Learn to respect and live with mountain lions.

UPDATE, 10/31: A necropsy on the killed lion showed the animal was healthy and not rabid.

TUCSON -- A warning to Arizona mountain lions from this hunter: stay hidden, cougars, or you'll be shot by paranoid bureaucrats.

Saturday, a cougar was seen by a hiker with a dog (off-leash?) in the Santa Rita Mountain's Madera Canyon. The hiker had a gun and took the right action to scare off the lion. But then Sunday, the US Forest Service and AZ Game & Fish Department tracked a lion with hunting dogs and shot it dead.

In Arizona, it seems like any seen lion is a dead lion. It's very sad and backward that these awesome animals are viewed as 'disposable' by the government, and it's absurd to think that cougars should never be seen in higher use areas the Forest Service is developing and promoting for recreation.

Like too much in American life, this is all about the money. This lion was killed in a Coronado National Forest fee area. Forest Service bureaucrats, such as Coronado Supervisor Jeanine Derby, have pushed before for quick kills of lions because they want nothing to interfere with their fee collection, like at Sabino Canyon a few years ago, where no cougar sightings were ever verified, but several cats were still targeted. More fees equals less wildlife. The agencies also have an extreme paranoid fear of liability, killing wildlife quick anytime they fear even a remote chance some irresponsible person may be hurt.

Another factor, AZ Game & Fish often looks for any excuse to kill lions or other predators because of the failed, simple-minded concept that killing cougars will result in more deer, bighorn, pronghorn or other agency preferred game species.

It's time for personal responsibility on your public lands. When you visit, then you take your chances with the wildlife that live there.

Former CA Fish and Game lieutenant Bob Turner told those worried that "you are more likely to be struck by lightning on the day of your wedding to Brad Pitt than be attacked by a mountain lion," in the San Diego Reader, Sept. 2004.

A message to hikers and other public lands users: if you care about lions, don't report any sighting to the agencies. And if you are scared of lions, which you should not be, stay home, but don't expect the government to kill them and 'sanitize' our wild lands for you.

The Arizona wild is not Disneyland.


Anonymous said...

"A message to hikers and other public lands users: if you care about lions, don't report any sighting to the agencies. And if you are scared of lions, which you should not be, stay home, but don't expect the government to kill them and 'sanitize' our wild lands for you."

Everyone should have a healthy respect for wild animals. That's why when I hike in Madera Canyon I bring my .357 magnum.

Ron Kearns said...

Domestic dogs and wildlife are incompatible. Whether the dogs are leashed or unleashed, it does not matter regarding disturbances to wildlife such as bighorn sheep or deer. I have appended several quotations from available research that documents the interactions. Additionally, unleashed dogs often pursue, harass, and sometimes kill smaller wildlife.

Regarding the mountain lion and the dog, as the Coronado NF representative stated, the lion most likely considered the dog as his prey. When humans take their pets into wildlands or environs, then they are setting the stage for “baiting” predators such as lions. Most thinking humans should be able to reason the potential consequences of their actions while wildlife react/respond thorough instinct and the dog was the prey-stalking stimulus to which the instinctively driven lion reacted.

Taking a dog--a canid that is very similar to wild canids lions prey upon--into lion country is not much different from hunters illegally baiting wildlife for an easy harvest. The result of the hiker’s actions with his dog was a form of baiting the lion, regardless of how unintentional. The impetus that resulted in the death the lion was the unthinking hiker with his pet and not that of the lion acting from millennia of evolutionary forces to natural stimuli.

As Mr. Patterson stated, wildlands were never intended as sterile areas where humans, with their pets in tow, can go and expect full protection from an area’s inherent risks. The overreactive AGFD unjustifiably killed a wild animal that they are sworn to protect as part of their wildlife duties. The Department has demonstrated an unreasonable and illogical bias against wildlife predators. Cougars especially, some that were collared research subjects, are exterminated at the slightest or assumed “provocation” towards humans or the taking of high-profile game animals such as bighorn sheep.

There are several questions I have regarding the hiker.

Why did he have a loaded firearm? Was he required to have a hunting permit to have a firearm, especially since this is hunting season? From the Coronado NF website Notes regarding the Madera Canyon area, “weapons may not be discharged within the boundaries.” To be clear, I am a strong proponent of 2nd Amendment rights and I am adamantly pro-hunting when harvests are based on sound wildlife management principles applied unbiasedly.

Additionally and included in the Notes, “all pets must be on a leash.”

• This is a developed Recreation Area.
• Weapons may not be discharged within the boundaries.
• All pets must be on a leash.

Hikers, hunters, backpackers, and others who venture into the backcountry must do so with the aforethought that the consequences of their actions might result in the needless death of wildlife and considering the risks and costs they might incur to other rescuers if they become lost or incapacitated for whatever reasons. Furthermore, wildlife managers and the public need to bear in mind the primal meaning of wildlife and wildlands. ‘Wild’ is the operative word in those two indispensible components of nature especially with today’s increasingly urbanized and decimated landscapes.


“R. A. McArthur et al. (1982 – see C. Sime 1999) conducted human disturbance trials in which a person approached a group of bighorn sheep: alone from a road, from the road accompanied by a leashed dog, and from a ridge away from the road. The strongest reaction (milling, fleeing) occurred when the sheep saw a human with a leashed dog. There was no evidence of habituation in repeated trials. McArthur et al. (1982) concluded, “The presence of dogs on sheep range should be discouraged.”

“Therefore, allowing domestic dogs in a protected area, even if they are under control, may have the same effect as an artificial increase in the number of predators, which may cause a substantial energetic cost (MacArthur et al.,1979). It has been shown that an increase in predator sightings decreases foraging efficiency and increases time spent vigilant in ungulates(Berger et al., 2003; Childress & Lung 2003;Hunter & Skinner 1998). A decrease in foraging time coupled with an increase in daily energy expenditure following anthropogenic disturbance (Tyler, 1991) may lower the energy available for reproduction, leading to lower recruitment (Kerley et al., 2002) and ultimately impaired fitness of animals. Moreover, a perception of high predation risk could lead to habitat abandonment by prey species.”

Ron Kearns