March 9, 2004
USFS Targets Sabino Canyon Mountain Lions
Contact: Daniel R. Patterson, Ecologist, Center for Biological Diversity, 520.623.5252 x306
TUCSON -- After recently agreeing that killing or removing mountain lions should be a last resort and this option was not imminent, the Coronado National Forest (CNF) is rushing to eliminate as many as four mountain lions in Sabino Canyon. Relocation of mountain lions is not a viable option, and wildlife managers have already said if the lions are located they will be killed.
CNF issued a news release this morning on closure of Sabino Canyon at midnight tonight, and plans to remove the lions. Despite a promise of close communication on the issue, CNF did not talk with conservationists about this plan.
The Center for Biological Diversity intervened this morning and won an agreement with CNF to not pursue the lions tonight, and will meet with CNF and other conservationists tomorrow in an attempt to come to agreement on less lethal options.
"The Forest Service has not shown any solid evidence that these lions are any threat to people visiting Sabino Canyon," said Daniel R. Patterson, Ecologist with the Center. "They are jumping to the gun to kill the lions, without first trying better management of people. Even if these lions are killed, more will move in to the area. Will they then be killed too? With this deadly approach, Sabino Canyon will change from some of Tucson's best lion habitat to a lion killing zone. The public clearly does not support that. They want mountain lions protected."
Sabino Canyon is a fee-demo area, and CNF benefits financially from its maximum use by people.