Arizona GFC Votes to Join Fight Against CBD
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously yesterday to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) regarding land management on the Arizona Strip.
In general, the commission is supportive of the plans and impact statement as adopted by the BLM and chose to take this action to protect the state's wildlife management interests and to ensure continued access to public lands for all outdoor enthusiasts.
An amicus curiae brief allows a party not directly named in the litigation to provide the court with pertinent information and arguments that may not be offered by the other parties.
The CBD lawsuit, filed on Jan. 27, 2009, questions the legality of the Resource Management Plans and Final Environmental Impact Statement adopted by the BLM for the Arizona Strip, an area of land that extends from north of the Grand Canyon to the southern border of Utah.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department was actively involved throughout the preparation of the BLM's management plans and provided input into which roads should be retained and which ones removed to protect wildlife and its habitat, allow administrative access to needed developments and ensure reasonable public access to wildlife.
The CBD amended its original complaint on March 25 to challenge the legality of using lead firearms ammunition on the Arizona Strip.
The commission wants to minimize any potential effects the litigation may have on its successful, voluntary non-lead ammunition program that benefits endangered California condors living in the experimental, non-essential population area.
Hunters in Arizona have been participating in a voluntary program to use non-lead ammunition or remove carcasses of animals shot with lead ammunition to limit the amount of lead from spent ammunition left in carcasses in the field since 2003. Each year every hunter obtaining a big game permit in areas used by condors gets a mailing explaining the voluntary program and asking them to participate.
There has been a free non-lead ammunition program on the Kaibab Plateau and most of the area covered by this suit since 2005, and last year 90 percent of surveyed hunters took voluntary lead reduction efforts during their hunt. This unprecedented effort has resulted in lower condor blood lead levels, less treatment of birds and no lead-related mortalities in the past two years.
The Arizona Strip provides important recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking and other outdoor pursuits.