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Hunters win big in Arizona court

Kaibab National Forest

Photo credit: RMEF Elk Network

A game retrieval program in the Kaibab National Forest of northern Arizona will continue following a recent ruling. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of this program despite pushback from environmental groups, who tried to appeal a previous decision by the Arizona U.S. District Court, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) Elk Network.

“This is a big win for hunters,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Hunters play an important role in helping wildlife officials effectively manage the populations of elk and other wildlife. This ruling helps make that more of a reality.”

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The program permits hunters to retrieve harvested bison within three districts in the Kaibab National Forest. Specifically, it is a time management rule that lets hunters “leave designated routes up to one mile” and allows for the use of a vehicle to keep hunter harvests from spoiling if necessary. According to the RMEF Elk Network, despite support by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), those opposed to this game retrieval program argued that this type of retrieval program “would lead to widespread damage to the forest” however, some believed that the environmental groups were specifically targeting hunters. In fact, a prior chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission pointed out that the groups didn’t “challenge other legitimate off-highway vehicle use in the forest.”

“This litigation is the latest example of environmentalists not recognizing the vital role hunting plays in wildlife management,” said Weaver.

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