Center for Biological Diversity

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

Assault on ecologist part of AGFD's larger problem of hearing and respecting public input.

March 25, 2004

Duane Shroufe, Director
Arizona Game & Fish Dept.
602.789.3299 fax

Mr. Shroufe --

The short history of the Sabino Canyon lion controversy has in too many
instances involved efforts by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the
Arizona Game and Fish Commission to avoid public oversight and involvement
in the decision making process. The latest incident took place this
afternoon at the AGFD press briefing.

Daniel R. Patterson, the Center's desert ecologist, sat through the
briefing and upon its conclusion stood up to clarify a statement by Gerry
Perry that was inaccurate. Mr. Patterson explained that public-interest
groups did not ask AGFD to capture and remove the lions, and thus the costs
associated with such a program have been proposed by AGFD itself, not the
environmental community. In response, he was physically grabbed by two
AGFD employees and forcefully removed from the public discussion. He
suffered a cut on the forehead, and had his arm and fingers violently
twisted behind his back. He was threatened with arrest.

This unfortunate treatment of Mr. Patterson goes far beyond his rights as a
citizen and the rights of the Center to provide accurate information about
a pressing public matter; they reflect a continuing pattern in which the
Department and Commission dismisses public opinion, avoids forums where the
public is allowed to speak, and seeks to squelch opinions which differ from
their own.

The lion controversy is not going to end soon. Public interest in
the management of wildlife will never end. I suggest you review this event
and take action to ensure that in the future the Department solicits,
encourages, and responds to public input -- even if the input is contrary
to the Department's official positions.


Kieran Suckling
Executive Director


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