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    ADBSS President Speaks Out About Kofa - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    ADBSS President Speaks Out About Kofa

    You may recall my post regarding another lion controversy at Kofa. Game and Fish along with t he Fish and Wildlife Service needs your support regarding the draft Environemental Assessment found here: KOFA EA

    Jim Unmacht, President of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society weighed in via a recent Arizona Sportsmen For Wildlife Newsletter:

    Jim Unmacht, ADBSS President

    For many of us, the demise of KM04 took entirely too long, however in view of the complicated nature of what’s taking place in the Kofa, probably warranted some patience, even in the face of the loss of additional sheep from the population. The moratorium on lethal removal of offending lions gave the FWS time to complete the Mountain Lion EA, however, due to delays, didn’t get completed on time. The extension of the moratorium through the end of the July, gave the FWS additional time to complete the process, however that didn’t materialize either, but it did give KM04 more time to eat sheep.

    A few days after the moratorium ended, the environmental assesment was released for public comment. That comment time runs through October 2, 2009. It is critical that sportsmen and women need to take a few minutes and weigh in on the proposed management plans; because rest assured, the opponents of this plan will comment.

    Here is some of what is out there already, even after one day (click here). If you don’t recognize the diatribe of this author, it’s State Representative Dan Patterson from Tucson. Note how he concluded his recent blog…”I am an Arizona hunter who formerly worked with BLM and has worked for over 15 years to protect and recover bighorn populations across the southwest. I am also considering legislation in 2010 to require more checks and balances and scientific oversight of Arizona Game & Fish.”

    I’m not sure where Mr. Patterson has worked to protect and recover bighorn populations, but I don’t recall him assisting the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society in any efforts. The ADBSS has been working for wild sheep in Arizona for 42 years. I’ve been a member for 15, and don’t recall Mr. Patterson being involved with any of the ADBSS efforts. If I’m wrong, someone can correct me.

    Mr. Patterson has been against wildlife waters, and he has been an outspoken opponent to any management of lions on the Kofa. Opposing predator management means other species lose, and in the case of the Kofa, the sheep have been losing. The AZ Game & Fish Department has been cooperating with the Fish & Wildlife Service, respecting their jurisdiction and trying to manage both species as best as possible. However, the ongoing EA and the inability to manage lions on the Kofa stacked the odds against the signature species for which the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1939.

    I believe we’ll find the data gathered from KM04 will help us manage predators and sheep in the long term, but after 15 dead sheep and an untold number of dead mule deer, the value of the data was being offset by the toll this predator was taking on the herd. Mr. Patterson is calling the lethal removal of KM04 “unethical”. I’ll call the idea of letting this predator continue to go on eating sheep unconscionable.

    The ADBSS Board learned first hand at our August meeting that the idea there were 3 to 4 lions around the Kofa was erroneous. The U of A Graduate student undertaking a DNA analysis of scat from lions on the Kofa complex, has conservatively found 13 different lions have been on the Kofa complex at least once since 2006. Moreover, this data came from 18 confirmed lion scat samples, and he has a several dozen more samples to analyze.

    I am pleased that science and wildlife management principles have trumped the emotional and political posturing that has gone on over the last many months. The viability and sustainability of the Kofa sheep population was being threatened by the appetite of one lion, (1 sheep killed every 10 days). That lion’s demise won’t threaten the mountain lion population in Arizona or the Southwest, but it might give the Kofa sheep herd a chance to recover.

    Now is the time sportsmen and women need to support the Arizona Game & Fish Department and let our State Legislators know that they made the right decision- click here for a link to email your state Representative and Senator.

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