Council guns down ban on predator hunts



In 1998, an Arizona contest called "Predator Hunt Extreme" offered $10,000 to the person who killed the most coyotes, bobcats, foxes and mountain lions. Public outcry against the event and multiple petitions from both hunters and wildlife advocates convinced the state Game and Fish Commission to propose a ban on such killing contests. But this September, the Governor's Regulatory Review Council ruled that the state agency doesn't have the authority to end the contests because they're not within its jurisdiction.

"What do these contests have to do with hunting or wildlife?" asks Review Council staff administrator Jeanne Hann. Apparently, the council does not consider predators to be wildlife, and since it must approve all state agency rules before they become law, the contests will continue.

Game and Fish Commissioner Michael Golightly, however, says under state law, Title 17 gives the agency control over all wildlife, and predators are wildlife. Golightly says he can only guess what the council's objection might be: "They gave a million reasons," he says. This was the agency's second unsuccessful attempt to ban the predator hunts.

Nancy Zierenberg of Wildlife Damage Review, a nonprofit group that lobbies against predator control, agrees that Game and Fish is the appropriate agency to institute the ban. She says strong ties exist between Republican Governor Jane Dee Hull's Review Council and "a small vociferous minority" in the ranching community, adding that the council "did not want to set the precedent that the public has the right to influence wildlife issues."

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