PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission today voted 4-0 to approve a Notice of Final Rulemaking that, if approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC), would designate a predator or fur-bearing hunt contest, as defined by the rule, an unlawful manner and method of take for these species.
The Commission’s intent in adopting this rule is to address social concerns over formally organized and publicized contests that award prizes to competitors that kill the largest number or variety of predators or fur-bearing animals, as these are the types of events that have caused the strongest public objection.
“To the extent these contests reflect on the overall hunting community, public outrage with these events has the potential to threaten hunting as a legitimate wildlife management function,” said Kurt Davis, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. “Regulated hunting fundamentally supports wildlife conservation efforts in North America. The loss of hunting would equate to a measurable loss in conservation efforts, and would represent a failure of the Commission to fulfill its duty to conserve wildlife for the beneficial use of current and future generations.”
For the purposes of the rule, “contest” means a competition where participants must register or record entry and pay a fee, and prizes or cash are awarded to winning or successful participants.
The rule would not apply to lawful, regulated hunting of predators and fur-bearing animals, which plays an important role in wildlife management, nor would it apply to events such as fishing tournaments.
The Commission proposed the rule at its March 15 meeting, and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was posted in the Arizona Administrative Register on April 12, opening a 30-day comment period. Game and Fish received more than 4,800 comments during the comment period.
Predatory animals as defined in A.R.S. § 17-101 are coyotes, bobcats, foxes and skunks. Fur-bearing animals are weasels, raccoons, beavers, badgers, ringtail cats, muskrats, otters and bobcats.
The rule next goes to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) for its review. If GRRC approves the rule, it could become effective Jan. 1, 2020.