Being a resident of Arizona all of my life, and an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I take a lot of interest in wildlife, the weather and nature in general. I read with great interest the recent (Arizona) Game and Fish survey that claimed that only seven mountain lions reside in the area from the Rim to Mesa.
Strangely enough, some ranchers in the Sunflower area hired a hunter to try and alleviate the mountain lions killing their cattle, and this hunter killed roughly three times that many lions in one area. He was heavily fined and prosecuted.
When you consider that a grown lion can eat a deer a week, and a calf, being about the size of a grown deer, will sell for approximately $300 to $400 at the market, how long can the rancher stay in business?
Animal activists and a lot of Arizona residents just don't realize what really goes on in the mountains.
I was fortunate enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag this year. After the hunt, Game and Fish wanted some parts of my animal, which I readily gave, because they needed to find out what was killing the sheep. I spent five days in the field, mainly from Saguaro Lake to Canyon Lake, with eight of my friends. I saw not one deer or javelina, nor any fresh tracks. In a place as inaccessible as this, I know that hunters are not a major problem.
I did find three deer and a female sheep dead, in what appeared to me as lion kills. Now Game and Fish is going to have a depredation hunt to rid themselves of a problem that evidently the ranchers didn't even scratch the surface of.
Is Arizona Game and Fish trying to manage the wild animals in this state or are they just about creating revenue? Is the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society holding back money because the sheep are disappearing at extinction rate in this area?
Because Game and Fish are not managing this area properly, how many more lions would be alive now if the ranchers had not tried to protect their livelihood which they were fined for?
I don't believe all the lions need to be killed. I, for one, love to see them in the wild. But come on, let's get a clue here? If you aren't used to Arizona's wild lands and mountains, then figure it out before you talk about what you don't know.
I'm sure I have just written away my last tag for Arizona hunting, which I love. I just felt that someone had to stand up for the future of Arizona hunting and the ranches that made this land. By the way, I didn't get paid to write this, I'm just concerned about the future of Arizona. My son is two months old, and I'd like him to grow up and be able to enjoy wildlife as I have.
Jeff Wantland, Payson