Press Release: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Reverses Decision to Istall Streaming Video Cameras in Wilderness
Hunters and conservationists pleased with decision.
Rod Mondt, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers,
Phoenix, —When the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced in February that it would be installing a streaming video system at Adams Well on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to relay real-time footage of wildlife coming to the well to drink, the agency did not anticipate the public uproar that ensued.
The project was slated to be carried out later this spring in partnership with a local amateur radio group, the Yuma Auxiliary Communication Service (YACS). The purpose was to "bring the refuge to the people" by enabling people to enjoy viewing many species of wildlife that inhabit the refuge, including trophy-size bighorn sheep and mule deer, from the comfort of their home computers.
Despite the project's good intentions, the staff at Kofa Refuge soon began receiving phone calls and letters from concerned hunters and other conservationists from around the country. A number of issues were raised, including the lack of public involvement, risks to wildlife, intrusions on the area's wilderness character, and compromising hunting's fair chase ethic.
“Although the integrity of this wilderness area is important, this is more than a wilderness issue,” said Rod Mondt, Tucson resident and member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “It is also a matter of concern to many hunters who practice the ethics of fair chase, and are distressed about the encroachment of mechanized civilization on sensitive habitat and the critters that live there.”
Refuge manager Paul Cornes gave careful consideration to all the citizen input, and on Thursday March 1st he reversed his decision to install cameras and a satellite dish within the Kofa Wilderness. "Many of you brought up good points and suggestions," he wrote in a note to all who had contacted him. "We are confident we can meet the objectives of the project completely outside the Refuge's designated wilderness."
"We applaud and thank Mr. Cornes for making the best decision for wildlife and wilderness," says TinaMarie Ekker, policy director for Wilderness Watch, a national conservation organization.
"The Kofa Wilderness is the second-largest refuge wilderness in the continental U.S.,” says Jason Williams, Central Mountains-Sonoran regional director with the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, “and Mr. Cornes' decision helps assure that it will remain an undisturbed sanctuary for both humans and wildlife from the intrusions of modern daily life."
Wilderness Watch is a national conservation organization dedicated to ensuring the good stewardship of lands and waters within the National Wilderness Preservation System and Wild & Scenic Rivers System. Our mission is to ensure that the wilderness character of these special places is preserved and not allowed to diminish over time. www.wildernesswatch.org
The Arizona Wilderness Coalition works to permanently protect and restore Wilderness and other wild lands and waters in Arizona for the enjoyment of all citizens and to ensure that Arizona's native plants and animals have a lasting home in wild nature. Since 1979, we have done this by coordinating and conducting inventories, educating citizens about these lands, enlisting community support, and advocating for their lasting protection. Our offices are based in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and Flagstaff.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is a national organization of hunters and anglers whose mission is to ensure America's outdoor heritage — hunting and fishing in a natural setting. They seek to do this by protecting or enhancing wilderness, roadless areas, and clean water, and by promoting responsible wildlife management and hunter/fisher behavior. They support the natural functions that support all native fish and wildlife and strive to achieve their goals through hard work, activism, and education. www.backcountryhunters.org