The Friends of Wild Animals have been a vocal opponent of the Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project – whether or not you agree with their views they seem to have done the interested public a service with a recent Public Records Request. In response to their request the Arizona Game and Fish Department has produced documents including meeting notes for the Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Advisory Committee.
These notes are fascinating because the Advisory Committee meetings are closed to the public. There have been quite a few details released about the reintroduction project – but this is the first time (that I am aware of) – that any meaningful details about these meetings have been released. The Friends of Wild Animals have posted their conclusions about the the notes in Bighorn Sheep Committee notes reveal pattern of secrecy and deception (covered by Sonu Wasu of Tucson News Now in Watchdog group blasts Bighorn Sheep advisory board members for ‘secrecy’).
In addition to posting their own opinions on the documents the Friends of Wild Animals have posted a pdf of the notes (they note: “We have put the scattered documents into chronological order and rescanned them. To obtain the original files, please email email@example.com.”).
With public lands, wildlife, Wilderness and the AZGF involved in this project it is disappointing that these meetings were not open to the public. These notes – where the members appear to struggle with the details of habitat and fire, Mountain Lions, how to measure success, environmental regulations and details about GPS collar transmissions are actually refreshing reading – surely I am not the only one who finds projects that operate behind closed doors, work to present only a carefully crafted media message, stick to ‘talking points’ and maintain suspicious levels of optimism very hard to trust/believe? I didn’t come away from reading these documents with the impression that they demonstrate the “lack of integrity” that Ben Pachano, spokesman for Friends of Wild Animals, found – but I also don’t understand why any of this information needed to be a secret.