The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will vote early next month on revisions that would affect mountain lion hunting guidelines for the next five years.
As a result of these alterations, it’s possible that up to 50% of mountain lions slain in a given zone are female. While traversing the region, several mother mountain lions conceal their babies in adjacent hiding locations, which could cause problems.
A large number of female mountain lions are either pregnant or caring for dependent cubs. Three out of every four adult female mountain lions shot each year during hunting season are discovered to be with dependent cubs, according to reports.
As a result, many cubs are left to fend for themselves; limiting their chances of survival. Cubs under one year of age have almost no chance of survival without their mothers.
Arizona’s hunting guidelines break the state up into hunt zones for each animal. Each of these zones has a specified number of lions in the quota per season. Once this quota is filled, hunting is closed for the season within the particular zone.
“With these new hunting guidelines, each zone will designate the quota of mountain lions for hunters. However, once the female quota of 50 percent is fulfilled, the particular zone is then closed to hunting. Other zones would remain open. These zones remain open until their own quota is fulfilled.
This is to ensure that no more females are killed according to the hunting quota. As experts note, it is quite difficult to determine the sex of a mountain lion upon first sight. In fact, some hunters rely on experts to determine whether their trophy is a male or female mountain lion.
Could Further Hunter Education Make Potential New Quotas Easier to Follow?
The Arizona Game and Fish could begin offering classes on mountain lion biology as well as sex identification. This would allow mountain lion hunters to identify whether the lion is a male or female before the kill. According to reports, requiring hunters to determine the sex of the lion before the kill would increase an understanding among the hunters as to why there is a female hunting quota.
Additionally, local conservation groups are asking for a lower female mountain lion hunting quota. Conservation groups are calling for an adult female quota of no more than 20% of lions killed in each unit. This, experts say, will encourage hunters to be more judicial about their kills. Giving careful consideration to each of their hunts, further protecting the cubs within a mountain lion community. Furthermore, game experts note that a female mountain lion reaches adulthood by 24 months of age. Guidelines can be changed to reflect this as the current laws place a female mountain lion at adulthood by 36 months of age.
This article by Megan Molseed was first published by The Outsider on 7 March 2022.
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