Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

AGFD & USFS call off Sabino Canyon lion hunt. Should’ve never been a hunt, government didn’t show good evidence of threat or try other options. Important work ahead on AGFD and USFS respecting public input, stopping urban sprawl and living with wildlife.


Contact: Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist, CBD 520.623.5252 x306

TUCSON -- Conservationists celebrate the government decision today to suspend the Sabino Canyon mountain lion hunt.

“There should’ve never been a hunt, and they should not resume it. Game & Fish and the Forest Service have not shown convincing evidence of a threat,” said Daniel R. Patterson, desert ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There is important work ahead for the public, governor and legislature: reforming AGFD and the commission, learning to live better with wildlife, and curbing urban sprawl.”

On Friday, public interest organizations from across the state issued calls for reform of the Arizona Game & Fish Commission and Department.

When questioned at a public meeting, Arizona Game & Fish Deputy Director Steve Ferrell admitted he knew of no examples where adult cougars had been successfully moved to captivity.

Government officials shave not shown good evidence that lions in Sabino Canyon are likely to attack humans. A March 12 AGFD report obtained by CBD showed only 1 of 36 (2.8%) reported potential lion sightings in or near Sabino Canyon confirmed since 2002, and only 3 of 36 (8.3%) as possibly confirmed. This report does not confirm recent stalking of humans by lions, as has been claimed by officials. An earlier report from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) was very similar. Recent alleged sightings reported by the media are unconfirmed, and biologists know that most lion sighting reports from the public are inaccurate.

There are other easier, safer and less expensive solutions besides capture or killing.

“We will get houndsmen to come out and track the lion to its day bed or denning area, then chase the lion out of the vicinity. Typically, that works pretty well. The lion won’t come back after harassing behavior,” said Steve Nadeau of Idaho Fish & Game, describing cougar management in the urban-wildlife interface around Boise, in the Arizona Daily Star, March 11.

Governor Janet Napolitano, Congressman Raul Grijalva, 27 state lawmakers and others joined a huge public outcry against the Sabino Canyon puma hunt.

Conservationists are ready to work with AGFD and USFS on working better with the public, liability issues, wildlife feeding, and urban planning.

Sabino Canyon is a controversial fee-demo area, and the Coronado National Forest benefits financially from its maximum use by people.


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