Green Guide

Activists seek ban on sport hunting of Arizona big cats

Posted September 27

— Animal welfare activists are asking Arizona voters to ban the sport hunting and trapping of mountain lions, bobcats and other big cats in the state.

Arizonans for Wildlife will begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that the group filed paperwork for on Monday, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2xKxxa0 ).

Through the initiative, the group wants to stop the killing of wild cats for only their head or fur. Kellye Pinkleton, the group's campaign director, said the initiative also would end the use of steel-jawed traps, dog packs and other cat-hunting methods.

Hunters and other opponents to the initiative have pointed out that the state's mountain lion population is regulated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and it's not endangered.

Jim Unmacht, executive director of Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, said the mountain lion population is rebounding and other big cat species like jaguars and ocelots are protected under federal law.

"They're trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn't exist," Unmacht said. "We are going to mobilize and do what we can do to fight it."

The initiative would have exceptions on killing the big cats if they threaten the safety of people and livestock.

Pinkleton said the initiative would not affect the hunting of other big game.

The group is required to collect 150,642 valid signatures by July in order to get the initiative on the ballot in November 2018.

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