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The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted June 21 to approve a Notice of Final Rulemaking that would make predator or fur-bearing animal hunt contests illegal. The action still need to be approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC).  If the governor’s council approves, the new rule could go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The Commission adopted this rule to address public concerns over formally organized and publicized contests that award prizes to competitors who kill the largest number or variety of predators or fur-bearing animals. These events have drawn strong criticism from the public. 

“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 in which participants must register or record entry and pay a fee, and prizes or cash are awarded to winning or successful participants.

The Game & Fish Commission said this rule would not apply to lawful, regulated hunting of predators and fur-bearing animals, as these play an important role in wildlife management. The rule would also not apply to events like 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. This opened a 30-day comment period. Game & Fish received more than 4,800 comments during this 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.

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