Javelina freed from trap stuck on its snout

https://www.kold.com/2021/03/31/javelina-freed-trap-stuck-its-snout/

Error. Something went wrong.AZ Game and Fish frees entrapped javelinaBy KOLD News 13 Staff| March 31, 2021 at 3:47 PM MST – Updated March 31 at 3:47 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – A days-long search for a javelina entangled in a trap finally came to an end Wednesday and the little peccary, freed.

Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department searched for the animal since Saturday, March 27, 2021, according to a tweet from the agency.

But, with help from Oracle locals and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the AZGFD team was able to capture the javelina, take off the bothersome trap around its snout, treat it with some antibiotics then set it on its way.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=KOLDNews&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1377366363635773440&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.kold.com%2F2021%2F03%2F31%2Fjavelina-freed-trap-stuck-its-snout%2F&siteScreenName=KOLDNews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.

Hoskin signs hunting, fishing act at first preserve

  • BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter
  • Mar 3, 2021 Updated Mar 3, 2021

1 of 3

The Cherokee Nation recently purchased more than 4,000 acres in Sequoyah County for its first hunting and fishing preserve, seen March 1.

  • JOSH FOURKILLER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh, left, and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner talk March 1 at the site of the Cherokee Nation’s first hunting and fishing preserve in Sequoyah County. 

  • CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

As Cherokee Nation leaders look on, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. prepares to sign the Park and Wildlands, Fishing and Hunting Reserve Act of 2021 on March 1 in Sequoyah County. 

  • CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

SEQUOYAH COUNTY – On a breezy afternoon in Sequoyah County, tribal leaders gathered at a newly purchased swath of countryside as Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed into law the Park and Wildlands, Fishing and Hunting Reserve Act of 2021.

The heavily wooded, 4,300-acre site is the tribe’s first preserve under the new act.https://www.youtube.com/embed/HjPZyFIIG4w?enablejsapi=1&origin=https://www.cherokeephoenix.org

“This is a big and beautiful place. This legislation is even bigger,” Hoskin said March 1. “This is the beginning of a new era in the Cherokee Nation of conservation of our lands, of setting aside lands to use for the Cherokee people for hunting, for fishing, for gathering. This is only the beginning, this 4,000-acre tract.”

Backed by the Tribal Council, the act establishes policy for preserve lands. The goal, Hoskin said, was “to do something more than just acquire land, but to manage it in a way that creates hunting preserves, fishing preserves and wildlands for gathering traditional medicines and engaging in traditional practices.”

“We also have an opportunity to construct some cabins here as we continue to deal with the pandemic,” he added. “So getting people a place to isolate in Sequoyah County – as we’re looking across the reservation to do – is important. But long term, this legislation is really about managing our lands in a way that can benefit the Cherokee people the most.”

The first tract of land in Sequoyah County should be available to CN citizens within a few months, said tribal officials.

“This property is around 4,300 acres of pristine hunting and fishing preserve land,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Chad Harsha, who will oversee the program.

CN leaders said the sprawling property is home to deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, dove, quail, waterfowl and fish, along with mushrooms, wild onions, wild berries, hickory nuts, wild greens and more.

“It’s been used for hunting for a number of years,” Hoskin said. “This body of water behind me is an impounded creek that’s created just a wonderful place for fishing and recreation.”

Regulations and a map are expected to be available this spring under the Natural Resources tab at cherokee.org.

“When we open this to our citizens, people will best be able to find it by going to Akins, to the Akins store off Highway 101,” Hoskin said. “It’s just a short drive off that highway. We’ll make sure on our website that information about accessing this park is made available.”https://cbc47685d864261b810bb9b4aa4af7b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Future tracts of trust property are also being considered for hunting and fishing, cultural use or archery.

“We’ve actually identified some other parcels that we already owned that will be designated as hunting and fishing preserves under this act,” Hoskin said. “One is in Adair County. The other is in Craig County.”

Harsha sees the program as a way to “enhance and expand” outdoor activities and recreation for Cherokees.

“It also is a unique opportunity to provide conservation and protect traditional practices for Cherokee citizens,” he said. “This is the first step of many.”

https://www.cherokeephoenix.org/news/hoskin-signs-hunting-fishing-act-at-first-preserve/article_a281e65e-7c41-11eb-83f6-bbcb8d4c207d.html

Picture Rocks woman is charged with felony in trapping, killing of neighbors’ dog

An off-duty animal control officer who admitted to shooting and killing her neighbors’ dog at her Picture Rocks home in October has been charged with a felony.

Marilyn Hendrickson, 27, was arraigned in Pima County Superior Court on Wednesday after she was indicted earlier this month on one count of killing a domestic animal without consent, a fifth-degree felony. A judge entered a plea of not guilty on Hendrickson’s behalf.

The Arizona Daily Star reported in early November that Hendrickson, an animal control officer for Marana, trapped and killed the dog, Buddy, days earlier after a monthslong dispute involving her neighbors, Tiffany and Justin Bara, and her former employer, the Pima Animal Care Center.

A criminal case was investigated by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Hendrickson told the Star that she carried out her actions out of desperation after months of what she perceived as inaction by PACC officers.

Records show she called PACC at least five times after more than a dozen of her chickens were killed and her goats were attacked — and blamed her neighbors. She told the Star she installed surveillance cameras and caught a dog on video attacking her goats.

A Marana spokeswoman told the Star in December that Hendrickson was no longer employed by the town.

Both Hendrickson and the Baras said they discussed the incident, but talks about replacing the chickens fell through. Tiffany Bara acknowledged her three dogs would escape from the yard, despite efforts to patch their fence, pack holes they dug and block the fencing with a kennel. Court records show the Baras were also charged with multiple counts of violating leash laws, dogs chasing livestock and for the dogs biting animals.

After the incident, Kristen Hassen, PACC director of animal services, stressed her officers always responded and did everything they could when Hendrickson called and that they would have done so again if Hendrickson had kept Buddy in the trap. She called the incident tragic and avoidable.

Hendrickson was booked into the Pima County jail on Wednesday. She is scheduled to appear in court next on March 16.

Three mountain lions killed after they ate human remains near a popular hiking trail in Arizona

Mountain lions, like this one pictured on the US Forest Service website, are not known for consuming human flesh.

(CNN)Officials in Arizona killed three mountain lions who ate human remains close to a popular hiking trail.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department discovered the human remains Tuesday during an investigation at Pima Canyon Trail near Tucson and closed the trail, the department said. The Arizona Game & Fish Department said in a statement Wednesday the lions were killed overnight.
The mountain lions are not suspected of killing the victim, Game & Fish officials said. Authorities are trying to determine what happened on the trail, the sheriff’s department said.
“Mountain lions are not routinely scavengers. A mountain lion eating human remains is abnormal behavior. Those that do are more likely to attack a human being in the future,” Game & Fish Department Regional Supervisor Raul Vega said in a statement provided to CNN affiliate KGUN.
Vega added: “In addition, they did so 50 yards from a popular hiking trail and within sight of homes, and repeatedly showed no fear of responding officers.”
He said the mountain lions “were a clear and present danger to public safety.”
The mountain lions are being preserved as possible evidence in the death investigation, officials said.
An autopsy for the victim is scheduled for Thursday.

RAW VIDEO: Dog and wild coyote play together in Tempe neighborhood

https://www.azfamily.com/video/raw-video-dog-and-wild-coyote-play-together-in-tempe/video_1d81a8d1-8523-57eb-96c2-a09d49a4c6d0.html

  • Posted 
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An AZ Family viewer recorded video of a wild coyote and her neighbor’s dog playing together in a Tempe neighborhood on Sunday morning. (Source: Courtesy of Cassandra Collett)

Another dolphin dies at Dolphinaris Arizona, 4th death in less than 2 years

https://www.azfamily.com/news/another-dolphin-dies-at-dolphinaris-arizona-th-death-in-less/article_ecf52006-25c8-11e9-8944-c3aa975c2e04.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share&fbclid=IwAR2YIDU385DwvYFJdDiWsJevy4Mq2hsXbOJ-igSKYJxevEjAKoEW7Hj8CU4

NEAR SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) – Dolphinaris Arizona announced Thursday evening that another of one its dolphins has died.

Kai, a 22-year-old male, is the fourth dolphin to die at the facility since it opened amid controversy on reservation land adjacent to Scottsdale.

[SLIDESHOW: The dolphins]

[READ MORE: Third Dolphinaris Arizona dolphin dies (Dec. 31, 2018)]

“Immediately after Kai started showing signs of health decline two weeks ago our team made every effort to save his life, including bloodwork testing, ultrasounds, x-rays, and engaging external specialists and submitting diagnostic samples to outside university veterinary laboratories,” Christian Schaeffer, the general manager at Dolphinaris Arizona, said in a statement sent to media outlets. “Kai initially seemed to be responding, but his health suddenly declined last night around 11:30 p.m. After the veterinary team administrated hours of critical care, including providing him oxygen, medicine and x-ray testing, Kai’s condition continued to decline. We made the extremely difficult decision to humanely euthanize Kai ensuring he would pass peacefully.”

[READ MORE: Discrepancy in reported cause of death at Dolphinaris raises new concerns (Nov. 17, 2017)]

Kai’s death comes a month after Khloe, an 11-year-old female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, died after battling what Dolphinaris Arizona officials described as a chronic illness.

In May 2018, Dolphinaris Arizona lost another female dolphin named Alia. She was 10 years old.

In September 2017, a dolphin named Bodie died of “a rare muscle disease.”

Bodie died just shy of Dolphinaris Arizona’s first anniversary.

[AND THIS: Activists rally outside Scottsdale aquarium after federal report on dolphin death (Nov. 18, 2017)]

Schaeffer said the facility has launched an investigation to review the dolphins’ death.

“We recognize losing four dolphins over the last year and a half is abnormal,” said Schaeffer. “Over the last several years we have worked with a team of external experts in the fields of animal behavior, water quality and veterinary care to ensure our dolphin family remains healthy. We will be taking proactive measures to increase our collaborative efforts to further ensure our dolphins’ wellbeing (sic) and high quality of life.”

[RELATED: General manager of Dolphinaris responds to opposition (May 4, 2016)]

Dolphinaris said it has already contacted a third-party pathologist to conduct a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy, to help determine the source of Kai’s health problems.

Dolphin Free AZ, with support from Dolphin Project, is planning to hold a protest in front of Dolphinaris on Saturday at 11 a.m.

“With four out of eight dolphins dying inside of 16 months, the situation has reached critical mass. For the safety of the public and the remaining dolphins, all activities should cease at Dolphinaris Arizona until an independent investigation takes place,” said Lincoln O’Barry with the Dolphin Project.

Dolphinaris, which is part of the OdySea In The Desert complex on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale, opened in October 2016.

[RELATED: Trainers keep dolphins safe in 119 degree heat (June 20, 2017)]

On Friday, PETA released the following statement about the latest dolphin death:

“As the National Aquarium in Baltimore prepares to move dolphins to seaside sanctuaries, the Parliament of Canada considers a bill that would ban dolphin captivity, and two belugas will soon move to the first beluga sanctuary, Dolphinaris Arizona’s deadly dolphin prison is out of touch with public sentiment—and there’s no excuse for keeping it open. PETA urges Dolphinaris to send surviving dolphins to seaside sanctuaries, where they would never again be forced to haul tourists on their backs in the sweltering Arizona desert.”

PETA supporters will join Dolphin Free AZ in partnership with Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project in calling on Dolphinaris to send the dolphins to seaside sanctuaries at a memorial protest on Saturday, February 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the west corners of E. Via de Ventura and N. Pima Road in Scottsdale.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors (AZ) Passes Proclamation Condemning Wildlife Killing Contests

Unanimous vote follows Dewey-Humboldt Town Council resolution

YAVAPAI COUNTY, Ariz. — The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a proclamation that opposes wildlife killing contests. Arizona citizens belonging to a coalition known as I AM WOLF NATION in partnership with Project Coyote and other wildlife and animal protection organizations have been working to end wildlife killing contests in Yavapai County and other Arizona localities. Yavapai County’s proclamation follows on the heels of a similar Dewey-Humboldt Town Council resolution that passed in November.

Wildlife killing contests are cruel events in which participants compete for fun and prizes by killing the greatest number or the heaviest of the target species. Last week, dozens of coyotes were slaughtered in the Santa Slay Coyote Tournament in Yavapai County and on public lands throughout Arizona. Manufacturers and sellers of firearms, predator-calling devices, and hunting gear were among its sponsors. Though the public at large remains largely unaware of these contests, killing contest social media posts often show photos of participants piling up and posing with the corpses of wildlife they have killed.

Increasing public outrage has led to several national newspapers editorializing against wildlife killing contests. Last week, on December 14, Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist Linda Valdez wrote in The Arizona Republic: “The wildlife in Arizona belongs to all the people of Arizona. Did anyone ask you how you feel about contests [that] put a dollar value on killing as many wild animals as possible? Is that how you want your wildlife treated?”

Yavapai County’s proclamation recognizes that coyotes and other native carnivores play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems—which includes controlling rabbit and rodent populations. Just as importantly, the County proclaims that wildlife killing contests serve no genuine ecological or wildlife management purpose. The County proclamation further acknowledges that wildlife killing contests threaten the safety and well-being of hikers, dog walkers, bird watchers, hunters, horseback riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts who use public lands where killing contests take place.

“We applaud the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors for taking a strong stance against wildlife killing contests in Arizona,” said Matt Francis, Prescott, Arizona resident and a Project Coyote Program Associate. “The Arizona State Legislature should recognize that Arizona citizens will no longer tolerate these barbaric contests and should ban wildlife killing contests statewide.”

“Our team recognizes and appreciates Yavapai County making a statement against killing contests, which are blood sports and should never be compared to hunting as contest proponents try to do,” said Betsy Klein, Sedona, Arizona, resident and co-founder of I AM WOLF NATION™. “As an organization, we recognize the long-standing tradition of hunters and hunting in Arizona. In fact, hunters who practice fair chase principles have called these contests ‘inhumane’ and have openly opposed them, knowing there is a distinct difference between hunting and senseless slaughter.”

Currently, there is a contest slated to take place in Flagstaff in March of 2019 that will target bobcats, coyotes, and foxes.

Coyote killing contest organizers often justify the slaughter by claiming that by reducing the coyote population they are helping to reduce conflicts with coyotes. “There is no documented scientific evidence that coyote killing contests permanently reduce coyote abundance, increase populations of deer or other game species, or prevent conflicts between predators, humans and livestock,” said Dave Parsons, MS, retired career wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, former hunter, and Project Coyote Science Advisory Board Member. “Wildlife killing contests are symptomatic of a broader problem of misguided wildlife governance by state wildlife agencies that fail to recognize and value the crucial ecological roles of native predators.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) itself recognizes that killing coyotes doesn’t reduce their numbers, stating on their website: “Removing coyotes from one area generally results in other coyotes moving in from surrounding areas and breeding faster.” There is no way to know the effect that wildlife killing contests have on coyote populations in Arizona because AZGFD does not monitor the contests or track the number of coyotes killed in these events.

U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva of the 3rd Congressional District of Arizona, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, recently weighed in on the issue: “Do you want a coyote-killing contest on your public lands this Saturday? Neither do we. Neither do Arizona locals in the threatened area. Let people know this is happening.”

Earlier this year, the city council of Albuquerque, New Mexico, unanimously passed a resolution calling for a state legislative ban on killing contests. Tucson and Pima County have passed similar resolutions in recent years. Vermont and California outlawed killing contests in 2018 and 2014, respectively. The National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, a growing alliance of more than 30 state and national wildlife and animal protection groups, along with local citizens, will pursue similar policy changes at the state and local levels across the nation in 2019.

* * * * *

I AM WOLF NATION — The power of the collective, working to protect the wolf and other persecuted wildlife in Arizona. For more information about joining the local effort to end wildlife killing contests, please visit our website.

Project Coyotea national non-profit organization, is a North American coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers, and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. Visit ProjectCoyote.org for more information.

NEARLY 200 HORSES FOUND DEAD AMID SOUTHWEST DROUGHT IN ARIZONA

http://www.newson6.com/story/38123686/nearly-200-horses-found-dead-amid-southwest-drought-in-arizona

 May 06, 2018 11:57 AM PDT Updated: May 06, 2018 11:57 AM PDT

This Thursday, May 3, 2018 photo shows dozens of horse carcasses lying in a dry watering near Cameron, Ariz.
CAMERON, Arizona –Off a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the starkest examples of drought’s grip on the American Southwest:  Nearly 200 dead horses surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust, and a ribbon of water that couldn’t quench their thirst.  Flesh exposed and in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry watering hole sunken in the landscape, CBS affiliate KPHO reports.

It’s clear this isn’t the first time the animals have struggled.  Skeletal remains are scattered on the fringes and in an adjacent ravine.

It’s a symptom of a burgeoning wild horse population and the scarcity of water on the western edge of the Navajo Nation following a dry winter and dismal spring runoff.

According to the Navajo Nation, 191 horses died of natural causes.

“These animals were searching for water to stay alive.  In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn’t escape because they were so weak,” Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a statement on Thursday.

A grim photo posted by the Navajo Nation shows the horses, many of them in mud up to their thighs and even their necks.

Conditions aren’t forecast to improve anytime soon, and tribal officials suspect other animals have died with not enough to eat or drink.

“One of the things we do is we picture the worst-case scenario when we got out there,” said Harlan Cleveland of the tribe’s Department of Emergency Management.  “I did smell the decomposition and the bodies starting to smell, the carcasses.  But I didn’t realize until I looked down from the berm and saw all those horses down there.”

Here, drought doesn’t manifest in having to shut down swimming pools or let lawns go dry.

This rural community does not have its own potable water source.  Those who have running water in their homes get it from a well, piped from over 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) away.  Most haul water, carrying large plastic tanks in the beds of their pickup trucks.  The groundwater is brackish and recommended for livestock only, but the two storage tanks closest to the watering hole no longer function.

Animals were accustomed to finding relief at the stock pond where the horses died, but locals say the pool of water beneath the decades-old earthen dam has dried up more quickly each year. Families have been downsizing their herds because they can’t rely on the vegetation or watering holes.  Some have hauled water and left it in troughs for animals.

Charlie Smith Jr. climbed the small berm overlooking the watering hole three weeks ago in search of his cattle.  At the time, he counted 29 dead horses and a cow that wasn’t his stranded at the edge looking up at him.

“It’s very emotional,” he said, standing beside his truck loaded with hay.  “I kept calling my sister saying, ‘this is bad.’  It just hits you.  You tear up.  You know you don’t have the capability to save them.”

Tribal officials counted 118 dead horses and two cows this week, but that tally doesn’t account for any carcasses that might have been pushed deeper into the mud by the other struggling animals, or for skeletal remains.

Tribal officials estimate tens of thousands of feral horses on the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation spanning 27,000 square miles (69,929.679 square kilometers) in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.  Some communities have called for roundups, but often they’re halted with public outcry tied to Navajo spiritual beliefs about the animals and the role they play in prayers and ceremonies.

When Emmett Kerley was a teenager in the late 1970s in Gray Mountain, the community controlled horse populations by castrating the smaller ones, he said.  Navajo culture taught that young men should train horses and tame them, part of building endurance, a strong work ethic and managing livestock, he said.

“There were no feral horses back then, but then the society changed in greater America but on Navajo, on the reservation as well,” he said.

Staff with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs put up a barbed wire fence around the watering hole where horses laid overlapping one another.

Federal and tribal workers this week used heavy equipment to bring horses found on the outskirts closer to the others.  Hydrated lime was spread over the site to aid decomposition and to ward off scavengers.  Friday’s work focused on collapsing the berm and burying the animals on site.

Eventually, the tribe will redirect any water that flowed into that watering hole into a safer area.

“Knock on wood, God forbid, that we have that situation anywhere else within the reservation,” Cleveland said.  “This will lay the foundation for how we respond to this.”

For all the devastation, there was a bright spot.  As Cleveland surveyed ground earlier this week determining how best to respond to the deaths, he saw a foal – no more than four weeks old – moving next to what was assumed to be its mother.

Tribal officials carried it to a truck and used a long-sleeved, white T-shirt to keep it warm for the trip to a veterinary clinic 45 minutes away.  They named her Grace.

Erin Hisrich, who owns the clinic, said Grace was severely dehydrated and will need to have her blood-sugar stabilized and kidneys functioning before she could be adopted.  On Thursday, the brown foal with a long patch of white hair on its face splashed in a tub of water and cozied up to visitors.

“In the end, that made my day responding to this emergency and this chaotic scene,” Cleveland said.  “At least this baby foal made it out.”

Flagstaff man accused of illegally hunting mule deer, search warrant reveals trophies

 

Investigators recovered fhttp://www.12news.com/article/news/crime/flagstaff-man-accused-of-illegally-hunting-mule-deer-search-warrant-reveals-trophies/472775299

mule deer trophies at his home, including antlers believed to be from a well-known deer who lived in the Grand Canyon.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Several state and federal agencies served a search warrant on a man at his Flagstaff home and found mule deer trophies suspected to be illegally hunted.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department have been investigating the hunting activities of Loren McReynolds for several years now.

Investigators recovered five mule deer trophies at McReynolds’ home, including nontypical antlers believed to be from a well-known deer that lived within the Grand Canyon National Park boundaries, AZGFD said.

“The department has received many complaints about McReynolds’ hunting activities over the years,” said Gene Elms, Law Enforcement Branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a press release. “Thanks to those individuals who came forward and the diligence of our investigators, we have the evidence to pursue criminal charges for McReynolds’ actions.”

McReynolds has a previous history of alleged wildlife violations, and was arrested in January 2017 for weapons violations and for killing federally protected burros north of Williams, Ariz., according to AZGFD.

McReynolds faces possible jail time and court fines if convicted. In addition, the AZGFD has authority to seek civil restitution for the loss of wildlife to the state and suspend or revoke McReynolds’ hunting privileges.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages anyone with information about the illegal take of wildlife to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 800-352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.com/ogt.

Don’t turn Grand Canyon into a bison hunting ‘horror show’

To his credit, President Donald Trump recently drew attention to the “horror show” that is elephant trophy hunting, adding in a tweet that he would be “very hard pressed” to see it otherwise. Never has that tawdry business been called out so bluntly, at such a high level, and we could use some similar candor in a matter closer to home – a trophy-hunting horror show soon to be staged in, of all places, Grand Canyon National Park.

It is the project of Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who has long sought to rid the park of bison. Their iconic appeal is lost on the congressman. And so, he is pleased to report, sport hunters will be “empowered” to go in and systematically slaughter the creatures.

The bison live near the North Rim, where, complains Gosar, they are “wreaking havoc.” They threaten, no less, “the wonder that is the Grand Canyon” and even its “longevity.” With his prodding, the National Park Service has decreed that a population it calculates at between 400 and 600 bison must be reduced to “200 or fewer,” meaning that as many as 400 could be culled.

The fact that the low end of the official population estimate approximates the number that might be killed, or that these expert wildlife managers can’t even survey the current total to within a third, is just one sign of a capricious plan crying out for public scrutiny.

Oddly enough, the Park Service itself has inadvertently given the bison their most convincing defense. Its “Initial Bison Herd Reduction Environmental Assessment”purports to show how intolerable their presence has become, but on close reading only reveals Gosar’s claim of “devastation” – “a bison problem that has reached borderline epidemic proportions” – as the nonsensical, trumped-up case that it is.

In the euphemistic parlance of the scheme, we learn that “reduction actions” are called for because of “soil disturbance” by the bison.

Apparently, that’s an inexcusable offense in the park these days, even though it is elsewhere considered a vital ecological function of this keystone species, and nobody was complaining at the Grand Canyon until sport hunters started lobbying for the cull.

MORE: Bison in Arizona? The story behind how they got here

The herd also stands accused of threatening “erosion potential.” The bison graze, drink water, and pass through streams, inviting further charges of causing “the potential for increasing impacts on vegetation” and “potential concerns about changes to local hydrology.”

“Potential damage” to archaeological sites is cited as yet another transgression, even as the report concedes there is no evidence that any buffalo has so much as stumbled into one of them, causing any actual damage.

“Potential benefits” likewise show the Park Service straining for a rationale to do an obviously cruel thing. You know they’re reaching when we’re informed that wiping out the herd will decrease “the potential for visitors slowing and/or stopping . . . to view bison resulting in potential vehicle-vehicle collisions.”

Have collisions become an actual hazard? Again, no.

And never mind that this particular example of a “benefit” merely reminds us that visitors love to see the buffalo that the Park Service wants to kill.

The sound of gunfire? Yeah, ignore that

On such vague and conjectural grounds, we are supposed to accept as unavoidable the miserable death of these beautiful creatures – whose presence at the Canyon, it becomes clear, is utterly benign, causing no harm to anyone who leaves them in peace.

Unmentioned, too, is that as hunting becomes the norm, surviving bison will increase their rate of reproduction, exactly the opposite of the intended result, although in passing we do learn that the “initial” culling will require three “reduction actions” a week.

This will involve helicopters, ATVs and snow machines for the chase, along with other alterations in “visitor experience” and the “acoustic environment” of what had been a wildlife sanctuary. Translation: Try to ignore the sound of gunfire as the North Rim of the park becomes a game farm for trophy hunters.

Gosar actually submitted a bill, the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act, just to make sure the volunteer hunters may haul off the “full bison” for display in trophy rooms. Hard to believe an act of Congress could be wasted to serve such a silly and squalid purpose, but the “stakeholders” insisted, so he obliged.

And who are they?

His office provides a list consisting exclusively of sport-hunting groups, as if no one else might have an interest in the matter.

The Park Service airily dwells on “values such as visitor experience and wilderness character” (which, of course, the bison are faulted for “potentially” ruining), but we would be wiser to think of our own values and our own character.

There are other ways to manage bison

A humble herd of 500 or so buffalo, in a country where some 50 million were annihilated, carries no burden of justifying its existence.

These creatures deserve better and we should expect better of ourselves, by managing them in ways that don’t leave blood trails, with a view to fertility control instead of lethal culling.

Consider a program carried out on Catalina Island, off the coast of California, once the unlikely habitat of 600 free-roaming buffalo. Its population stands today at 150, and is held there by an immunocontraceptive vaccine (porcine zona pellucinda, or PZP) administered by marksmen directing darts at the females. The vaccine indisputably works, and there is no reason it could not be employed at the Grand Canyon.

If relocation is in order for some of the herd, there are resourceful ways to accomplish that as well, as happened when the park’s wild burros were captured and transported to sanctuaries.

YOUR TURN: Birth control is an easy fix for wild horses. Why ignore it?

Among other groups, the Humane Society of the U.S. is prepared to take on the assignment, working with Arizona authorities and the Park Service. Their methods challenge the old “game-management” mindset of domination, violence as the answer to every problem, and rank exploitation dressed up as high science.

They offer a benevolent approach, inspired by respect and empathy, and who doubts that they better represent public opinion than the trophy hunters do?

Alas for the noble buffalo, all of their imagined offenses now bring imminent punishment. To spare the bison will take swift action by the media, others in Congress, our governor, and most importantly the public demanding to know why wildlife sanctuaries in law are not sanctuaries in practice.

Enough with the bogus studies, scandalous insider deals and volunteer butchers. Now let the real stakeholders speak up, extend our compassion to these grand and worthy creatures, and stop a bad idea dead in its tracks.

Matthew Scully, a Phoenix-area resident, is a former senior speechwriter to President George W. Bush and the author of Dominion: the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.

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