Last fall in Arizona, animal rights and anti-hunting activists working under the guise of a group called Arizonans For Wildlife proposed a ballot-initiative that would ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats in the state. The real force behind this proposal was the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the same group behind a host of anti-hunting efforts across the country, including a ban on the use of dogs while hunting and a ban of hunting on public lands.
To get the anti-hunting initiative in front of Arizona’s voters in November 2018, the HSUS needed to get over 150,000 signatures by July 5. The rhetoric used to support the ban on cat hunting suggested the methods used to hunt mountain lions and bobcats are cruel and hunters are only concerned with bringing home a trophy hide or skull. Citing healthy populations of mountain lions and bobcats, as well as an intact regulatory structure to manage those species, Arizona Game and Fish disputed those claims. In addition, the state’s wildlife commission unanimously voted against the proposal because such a ban would hamstring the agency’s ability to effectively do their job.
Fortunately, the ballot initiative did not work out as HSUS had hoped. Arizonans For Wildlife have suspended their efforts to gather the needed signatures due to “local obstacles” which included anti-fraud laws against signature payouts. For now, thankfully, mountain lion and bobcat hunting will remain legal in Arizona and the state’s wildlife managers will be allowed to pursue their objectives. This is a win for hunters and wildlife managers, as efforts like these set a dangerous precedent against the effective state management of our wildlife resources and the rights of individuals to utilize these renewable resources in a regulated, sustainable manner.
However, the HSUS is well-funded and it is inevitable that these attacks on hunting will continue. The group poured over $700,000 into their campaign against cat hunting in Arizona. In 2013, they put $2.6 million into a campaign to ban bear-baiting in Maine. (That initiative reached the ballot box but was soundly defeated by voters.) Unfortunately, this will hardly be the end of anti-hunting measures put forth by HSUS.
To learn more, check out The Sportsmen’s Alliance
Brody Henderson is a writer, hunter, fly fishing guide, and MeatEater’s Community Manager.