Mountain Lion Hunting in Arizona by James Smith
Arizona Game & Fish Department estimates the state lion population at around 2,500 lions. Lions are found throughout the entire state with the exception of the southwest corner of the state. The most popular game management units are 12A south in the Kiabab National Forest, north of Flagstaff. Other areas are units 22, 23, 24A north and east of Phoenix, and unit 27, 28 and 31 east and north of Tucson, which includes the Blue Wilderness Area. According to the Hunt Arizona 2004 edition, a survey of Harvest and Hunt Data these areas have the higher success
Of special interest to lion hunters is Arizona has a regulation allowing a hunter to harvest a lion a day in certain game manage units, until the “Harvest Objective” has been met. Then the limit reverts back to one lion per year. None of the previous lions harvested count against the one per year limit. The reason for this regulation is that AZGFD is attempting to protect the bighorn sheep in these game management units.
License for hunting mountain lion costs around $113.50 for your Class G (General hunting) license. In addition non-residents will need a mountain lion non-permit tag, which is around $200.00. The lion season, in general, is open year around.
Mountain lions are generally hunted in the winter months October through April due to the moisture that helps the dogs pick up the scent. If you hire a guide you should ask if his dogs are “dry land” lion dogs. Those dogs are better lion hunters than the damps or wet ground dogs. There are a number of guides in Arizona that can be found on various websites. The going rate for a lion hunt is around $3,500.00. Depending on whom you choose to guide you, you can find 4-day hunts and 7-day hunts.
The Arizona Game & Fish Department is currently involved in a research study on Ecology of Urban Dwelling Mountain Lions. Jim Devos is the primary biologist on this study. There are two areas of concentration: The Peyson study area consisting of GMU 22, and 23. The second is the Tucson study area GMU 33 and 34A. The AZGFD has hired two lion hunters to trap and/or capture lions to radio collar for their tracking studies.
Here are some tips: The lion’s primary habitat appears to be up in the timber areas with chaparral and ponderosa pine. They tend to follow the deer herds to some extent, but will devour small or large game animals including elk. Due to the extended drought Arizona has faced over the past years the mule deer population is down, whitetail deer population have remained stable, javelina populations are down.
Editor Note: While Jim is our Muskie guru, he provides us this month with a piece on Arizona Mountain Lion hunting.
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