By Nick Worth
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Tuesday regarding an ordinance amending the Article 6-Enforcement section of the 2008 Navajo County Predatory Animal Ordinance to allow “any individual” to kill a predatory animal under certain circumstances.
District III Supervisor Sylvia Allen said the amendment was necessary because of “this new wolf reintroduction and expansion of its territory, and maybe the re-designation of its endangered status.”
Allen noted that in 2008 the county passed the Predatory Animal Ordinance, which states predators cannot be released within this county. She said the amendment was needed to add more clarification under Article 6 “Enforcement.”
Allen read the existing Article 6 to the board, as well as the proposed amendment. The existing 2008 ordinance states:
“This ordinance may be enforced by the county enforcement agent or any deputy county enforcement agent appointed pursuant to the Navajo County Animal Control Ordinance (Ordinance No. 02-06), or by any peace officer.”
The amendment keeps that language intact as paragraph 6.1, but goes on to add the following:
“6.2 Any individual may kill, injure or harass a predatory animal when and to the degree a reasonable person would believe that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself or to protect another person against a predatory animal because the predatory animal possesses an imminent threat of serious bodily harm to any individual.
“6.3 Any individual may kill, injure or harass a predatory animal that is in the act of killing, wounding, biting or attacking livestock on private land.”
At this point Allen asked why the proposed changes did not include killing, wounding, biting or attacking domestic animals attacked on people’s property.
“I think we need to broaden 6.3 to include protection of domestic pets,” Allen said.
Brandt Clark of the county attorney’s office told the board federal guidelines state lethal force cannot be used on wolves attacking domestic animals such as cats and dogs, only on those attacking livestock.
Supervisor David Tenney asked Clark why the ordinance language specified wolves could be killed only on private land.
“What about cattle on a grazing lease on national forest land?” Tenney asked.
“On national forest land, it’s under the control of the federal government,” said Clark.
“I would rather get rid of the words ‘on private land,’ so it reads ‘may kill, injure or harass a predator killing livestock,’” said Tenney.
Clark again stated that on federal lands, the wolves would be under federal control and regulations.
There was some discussion regarding whether the board could make changes in the language of the ordinance, and Clark told the board that during the public hearing process they could still make changes to the ordinance.
“They plan to introduce more pairs (of wolves) into Navajo County,” Allen said. “The only tool we have is that the state has constitutional authority over the health, welfare and safety of its citizens.
“I think we need to make this as strong as we can and not be scared to death of what the federal government may do,” said Allen. “Look what they’re doing to us.”
“No pun intended, but I think we need to put more teeth into this ordinance,” he said.
Allen then moved to take out the words “on private land” and add “domestic animals” to the ordinance.
“To have a domestic pet killed and not be able to do anything about it can be devastating,” said Allen.
After some discussion regarding the issue of domestic pets, that language was removed from the amendment so that it specifies only livestock.
“The ordinance has now been amended once,” Allen said later. “It can be amended again to include domestic animals if we figure out a way to do it.”
The board also heard a report from Clark on the White Mountain Lakes Recreation District.
At the Aug. 27 board meeting, Mark Silliman, a property owner at White Mountain Lake, expressed concern over a provision in the recreation district’s rules that requires a property owner to be current on his or her taxes before being allowed to use the lake. At the time Supervisor Dawnafe Whitesinger asked the county attorney’s office to check into the legality of the rules.
“The White Mountain Lake Recreation District was formed in 1993 under the Board of Supervisors,” Clark reported. The board is the governing body of that entity. It then created an advisory committee.
“In May of 2006 White Mountain Lake Recreation District amended their rules for those located within that district,” Clark continued. “In May 2011 the advisory committee, in a unanimous vote, approved changes in their rules, but they did not bring them to the Board of Supervisors for approval and so the rules are not binding.
“One of the rules adopted at that time was that residents could not use the lake if their taxes weren’t current,” Clark said. “So, that rule is not binding.”
Clark said his recommendation to the board would be to contact WMLRD officials and let them know that the rules are not binding.
“If they want them to be, they need to come before the Board of Supervisors for approval,” Clark said.
Tenney then asked Clark to draft a letter to the recreation district.
“We need to let them know we have been approached and that if they intend to enforce those rules, they need to bring them to us for approval,” Tenney said.
In other action Sept. 24, the board:
* Approved an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service for the continuation of two Resource Advisory Committee grant projects for Aripine and Black Canyon Road.
* Approved Navajo County scoping comments on the notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed revision to the nonessential experimental population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi).
* Adjourned into executive session to receive advice regarding a settlement proposal in Snowflake Power v. Arizona Department of Revenue and Navajo County for tax year 2012.
Upon returning to open session, Tenney moved the board accept a valuation of $5.5 million. The motion passed unanimously.
* Approved a $65,000 contract with CBIZ for employee benefit consulting services for phase 1 consulting.
* Approved a contract with Trinity Correctional Services for inmate food services.
* Approved amendment No. 8 to a contract for the program year 2012 Workforce Investment Act.
The amendment allows the county to accept federal incentive funds totaling $28,407 for the program’s performance in 2012.
* Approved amendment No. 1 to the professional services agreement with Johnson Walzer Associates, LLC for additional architectural and engineering services for the Navajo County Public Works Complex for an additional amount of $15,570 for the design of a storage building at the complex.
* Approved the award of a construction manager-at-risk contract for construction of a new public works complex to Haydon Building Corporation.
* Approved task agreement No. 11 of the memorandum of agreement between the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Fort Apache Agency and Navajo County for the purchase of equipment supplies and road maintenance materials.
* Recognized Joyce Alexander for her excellence in personal performance far exceeding organization expectations.
* Approved personnel actions.
Acting as the Navajo County Flood Control District Board of Directors, the board:
* Approved new members for the Winslow Levee Advisory Committee, including Ross Black, Walter Phelps, Thomas McCauley, Cynthia Criter and Doug Watson.
* Approved the expenditure of $15,000 to assist the City of Winslow with needed maintenance and repairs to the Ruby Wash Diversion Levee.
Acting as the Board of Equalization, the board:
* Approved an agreement for a valuation of $571,000 for the Auto Zone in Show Low.
* Approved an agreement for a valuation of $1,460,000 for the Rainbow Apartments in Lakeside.
* Approved an agreement for a valuation of $741,853 for vacant properties at Pine Lake Meadows.
By Nick Worth