Arizona Hunting Hit with Sneak Attack

With the start of a new year, the Sportsmen’s Alliance expects a slew of new legislation at the state level. But in 2022, the animal-rights movement has started to attack hunting before there’s even a proposal on the table to attack. In Arizona, some of the largest anti-hunting organizations in the world have combined forces to strike down hunting at the highest, overarching level.

The state has opened public comment on the framework for its next five-year span of hunting guidelines (fall 2023 to spring 2028), which will dictate season, methods and means, mandatory reporting and the like. Pretty commonplace stuff that hunters, as the primary users and funding source of wildlife management, should understand and comment on regardless.

However, this year, animal-rights activists have laid siege upon the Phoenix headquarters of the Arizona Game and Fish Department during the open comment period and, if Washington state is any indicator, this sneak attack is a real threat. This is a new overarching tactic that strikes early in the regulation process when the bulk of sportsmen aren’t yet engaged.

In a concerted effort, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) have rallied their troops to attack during the open comment period, which ends Jan. 31. Their primary focus: mountain lion, bobcat and bear hunting.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 5 p.m. MST they will hold a joint webinar to educate their followers on best practices for submitting comments that erode hunting in the state.

You can sign up for the propaganda webinar here.

I encourage you to check it out; I’ve sat in on these webinars before. You’ll get an inside glimpse of the half-truths, misdirection, emotional appeals and, yes, outright lies (“we’re not anti-hunting”) these groups espouse. Armed with that knowledge, you can submit your own comments countering those points while strengthening your own that back scientific wildlife management supported by trained biologists and not the emotional-laden rhetoric of animal-rights activists.

You can view the guidelines here: https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Guidelines/. The department will accept public comments on those hunt guidelines for 30 days, which began Jan. 1. Comments can be submitted by email to AZHuntGuidelines@azgfd.gov.

Sportsmen, especially Arizona residents and anyone who has or plans to hunt the state, must step up and submit comments that counter this flood of animal-rights’ comments. If not, hunting will be lost. This isn’t hyperbole. Washington state cancelled it’s highly regulated, permit-only spring black bear hunt when game commissioners openly stated that public sentiment outweighed accepted science.

Weakening fish and game commissions by opening commissioner seats to non-consumptive users and outright anti-hunters has been a tactic of the HSUS and other groups for several years now (see: Vermont and New Hampshire). By having sympathetic ears on game commissions and flooding those commissioners during open comment periods, animal-rights activists can achieve their goals early in the bureaucratic process.

And make no mistake, their goal is to end hunting in every state, species by species.

HSUS has had their eye on Arizona since at least 2015 when “Cecil” the lion was killed. Shortly after that tidal wave of media coverage, HSUS attempted to link African lions with America’s mountain lion using their own faux study.

In 2017, the Sportsmen’s Alliance predicted the game plan for lions in Arizona. After failing to pass legislation to ban mountain lion and bobcat hunting that year, HSUS not only spearheaded a ballot initiative in Arizona but also bankrolled nearly the entire effort as well. What you’re seeing from HSUS, CBD and MLF at the commission level in Arizona during this comment period is a throwback to the suspended ballot initiative of 2018.

It might be a new year and they might be using a new tactic, but the goal of HSUS, CBD and MLF is the same: to end hunting in Arizona. Sportsmen must answer this challenge by making their voice heard during the open comment period or face the very real possibility of losing hunting seasons to an extremely vocal minority.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them in all 50 state legislatures. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.