Wildlife Preservation Advocacy

In the Fall of 2018, an animal activist colleague alerted me to the abominable bloodsport practices of wildlife killing contests. A long-running contest was about to happen in a nearby county a week before Thanksgiving and she asked me if I would write a letter to the editor of local newspapers to inform the community. I did and many others. It was unimaginable to me that such barbaric practices had been going on in our state for years, killing thousands of innocent animals. A grassroots campaign was initiated by a core group of committed activists calling on AZ Game and Fish to end killing contests.

This public outcry provided the impetus for AZ Game and Fish to write a new Rule addressing these heinous practices:

R12-4-303. Unlawful Devices, Methods, and Ammunition:

Participate in, organize, promote, or solicit participation in a contest where a participant uses or intends to use any device or implement to capture or kill predatory animals or fur-bearing animals as defined under ARS 17-101.

A public comment period followed with an overwhelming response in support of passing the Rule. Many concerned citizens attended the AZ Game and Fish Commissioners meeting on June 21, 2019 to provide testimony for passing this Rule. We all wanted a Rule without ambiguity. This is my testimony at the meeting:

Good Morning Chairman and Commissioners,

My name is Kate Scott, founder of the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center in Elgin, AZ. My intention in speaking today is to underscore how critically important this Rule if worded without ambiguity will mean for our wildlife. We can not as a civilized society tolerate purposeful, mass killings of wildlife.There is a fundamental shift happening nationally and in our state to end these cruel, brutal practices.  

 AZGF Commission is tasked per ARS Article 3. Powers and Duties, 17-231. (A). 4. Be responsible for the enforcement of laws for the protection of wildlife….in that simple statement it encompasses what we the public, non-consumptives assume is being carried out. Which is why every legislator, county supervisor and community member I personally spoke with wants this Rule to be very clearly worded to avoid surreptitious actions of adhoc groups that feel empowered based on the misguided and false premise that they are helping to “manage” predators. Or have some "right" as universally claimable as the esthetic and recreational interests of its members. All the while killing innocent animals that are caught in the cross-hairs. One might easily surmise that they are killing animals just because they can and because no one is regulating them or the contests. We need to keep hunting regulated, ethical and humane. We need you as Commissioners to provide a Rule that gives the public the assurance and confidence that there is oversight and enforcement. We are not a silent minority, but a part of a national and statewide growing concern for how wildlife for all is managed. Please do not assume that the urbanized or rural constituent is on different ground. We are on common ground. We are engaged and informed on issues concerning wildlife as evidence of the number of people who have turned out today.

I urge you as the managers of our precious native wildlife that you pass the revised Rule as shown below under Article 3. Taking and Handling of Wildlife: Rule12-4-303, including a few suggestions for the wording to insure there are no ambiguities. 

Participate in, organize, promote, sponsor, or solicit participation in a contest where a participant uses or intends to use any device or implement to lure, capture, trap or kill non-game animals, predatory animals or fur-bearing animals as defined under A.R.S.  17-101.  For the purposes of this subsection, “contest” means an organized or sponsored competition with the objective of taking or killing non-game animals, predatory animals, or fur-bearing animals for entertainment, prizes, cash, or other inducements.

 Thank you.

The Commission passed the Rule unanimously that day in its original wording. At this point the Rule needed to be endorsed by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) to be put into enforceable action by AZ Game and Fish. September 4th was the day the Council met to vote on the Rule. The audio recording of the meeting is accessed at this link, https://archive.org/details/9.4.19cm. They voted unanimously in support of the Rule. We were thrilled as the news spread across the state and country. Arizona joined the ranks with New Mexico, Vermont, and California in making headlines by setting the example, not following under a dark cloud of barbaric practices aimed at our precious native wildlife. The Rule will take effect in early November 2019.