In Sunday’s print edition, we told the story of how three Tucsonans came to be charged with a variety of misdemeanor offenses in connection with the June 10 shooting of a female mountain lion at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
Here are some reactions to the shooting itself, and to the citations from the Arizona Game and Fish Department of Rick Dailey, Thayne Lefevre and Martin Melvin Foesterling in connection with the shooting:
-- Bonnie James, of Marana, who has known Dailey since the 1970s: “I showed model quarter horses with him and his wife back then. I don’t think he would have shot this lion if it wasn’t necessary. I think he should pay a fine, but not go to jail. He has horses and cattle; he’s a rancher. He can’t afford to lose a 500-pound head of cattle.
“It’s sad. The animals – we’re in their habitat and we’re poaching their property. Still, they’ve got the bears in peoples’ garbage cans and we have javelinas at our front door. They’re looking at our windows and beating on our screen door. I put mothballs in a container and blocked off our front porch with a trellis-like structure. I know they are hungry and thirsty, but still you don’t want them to get thirsty and kill your dog or something.
“Did you read about the little girl, two years old, who was in a big cemetery in Southern California with her family, and a coyote tried to drag her up? I don’t know what’s happening with nature.”
-- Gale Bundrick, retired Pima County Parks and Recreation Director, county parks official for 27 years, and now president of the non-profit Parklands Foundation. It holds grazing leases on land surrounding the mountain park and subleases them to Dailey. He's known and respected Dailey for years, but isn't the least bit pleased at the lion killling.
“Rick Dailey has always been a rancher. As far as I’ve observed, he’s done a pretty good job of raising cattle and helping out with Colossal Cave park.
“He helped build armadas and the arena out at Posta Quemada Ranch, and he’s always been very straight with me. I never had a problem with him. When his cattle would get in Cienega Creek (site of a county-owned natural preserve), he would take awile to get them out, but he was always responsive nad respectful—he would oblige by getting them out.
“But I was shocked and displeased by the mountain lion shooting. They didn’t force Game and Fish to take the responsibility for dealing with this animal. They did it themselves. Rick’s an old cowboy. He still has the mentality that if lions are around, lions and cattle don’t mix. You just take care of the problem. It’s just the way he was brought up.
“If that mountain lion had to be killed, Game and Fish was the one that would and should have taken care of that.”
-- Bobby Stevens, Marana, a retired Pima County corrections officer who has known Dailey for 6 or 7 years: “To be honest with you, I’d have done the same as he did. The mountain lion is endangering the park area. It attacks livestock. I’ve known people with those kind of issues before.
“You can only do so much when authorities try to help, but they don’t. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Being in the park atmosphere at Colossal Cave, with kids around – there was family that day out there with kids.
“I like Rick. He’s a down to earth person. He’s always helping us out to do stuff, with horses or whatever. He’s a really good friend. We go help him out and he helps us get cows from him.”
-- Stephanie Nichols-Young, Phoenix attorney, and president of the Animal Defense League of Arizona: “If you take wildlife without the proper tags and license, you’re poaching. It doesn’t matter what your intent was, you are the person responsible.
“I find it troubling that they used a predator call. It would be one thing if they were surprised by the lion and had to protect each other. You don’t use a lure to call a lion and they brought that on themselves.”
-- Katherine Show, Marana, former Vail resident near Dailey’s home: “I used to live on Aqua Verde Wash, just across a hill from him. I had an incident one and a half years ago with a mountain lion trying to kill my pigs. My dogs and mule ran it off. I saw him kill one of my colts last spring. I had just gotten home and he jumped on it.
“I called Game and Fish and I had no response whatsoever. No followup. This cat (at Colossal Cave Mountain Park) has been right where tourists go, where people have their little kids. To me, that sounds like a cat that is losing its fear of people and would eventually attack somebody. I know Rick Dailey. If that wasn’t actually a problem, he wouldn’t do anything – he wouldn’t have a problem with it being there if it weren’t dangerous.
“I helped him with his cattle drives, and he sees lots of rattlesnakes, and we don’t go messing with them if it’s not messing with us. A lot of people forget that lions are predators and we are prey. California went through a period where mountain lions were killing joggers. That’s the cat’s instincts – it’s not the cat being mean.
“I have a 14-year-old daughter. If she was in danger, I’d have shot the cat myself.”
-- Ray Carroll, Pima County Supervisor, whose district includes Colossal Cave Mountain Park: “The state investigative report on that killing is filled with inconsistencies and people twisting the truth. It looks like Martin Foesterling is the one who told the truth and cooperated with authorities.
“These guys (Dailey and Thayne Lefevre, a Colossal Cave employee who faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the lion shooting) should be happy I’m not their boss. Based on that report, I would have already fired them.
“After they killed that mountain lion, it appears they covered it up and created several versions of what occurred to fit their frontier fantasy of protecting against a non-existent danger. It seems like they live in some kind of Westworld out there, above the law. They are damaging our park, and especially our reputation of it being such a long, historic venue for people to engage with wildlife in the Sonoran Desert.”
-- Gene Wendt, who has lived in the Vail area for 18 years and knows Dailey and Foesterling: :”I’ve known Martin and Rick Dailey for years. They have been first class people. Dailey, whom I’ve known since the 1970s, he has always been a gentleman.
“ I’ve never seen him give anyone a hard time except for fellows with big guns. People have been going out there shoting randomly, they come out with half a dozen guns and they all start to shoot – at rocks, fences, they shoot holes at anything they can shoot at. I’ve seen holes in furniture, and I picked up a TV set that they shot full of holes.
“As for this lion shooting. . . this is the most twisted mess I have ever seen. If anyone tries to prosecute Dailey on what I’ve heard so far, it’s a miscarriage of justice.
“I’ve talked to people in the area who have heard about this. I’ve heard one of the first stories was that the lion was within 5 feet of one of the paths where kids were playing. That’s pretty scary. If that was your kid out there, what do you think you would do?”