SWCC pending permit approval allows tours, camps for fundraising

A baby javalina at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (submitted photo)

A baby javalina at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (submitted photo)

Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center supporters want the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to approve a Special Use Permit, enabling SWCC to give tours and host youth camps for fundraising, ensuring the facility’s future at the 9:30 a.m. meeting on June 22 in the Supervisors Auditorium, 205 West Jefferson.

The Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the permit on May 5, according to a press release mentioning Jim Paxon, special assistant to the director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and a 33-year veteran of the US Forest Service, who was among supporters at the hearing.

“The support we have received is on the verge of saving this labor of love which saves wildlife. Contributors, petition signers, elected leaders, and countless others have rallied to help us survive this crisis,” SWCC Director Linda Searles stated in a press release.

On May 17, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council approved a resolution supporting the SWCC. And, in late February, friends of the center started an online petition generating more than 200,000 signatures worldwide, including 14,000 in Arizona.

“The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is critical to our community. Their mission to rescue native wild animals in an integral part of living in Arizona,”  stated Supervisor Steve Chucri, following an April Board of Supervisors meeting. SWCC is in his district.

Controversy for the SWCC began in 2015 after a single zoning complaint. The sanctuary, near Scottsdale, is the last refuge for mountain lions, bears, leopards, wolves, porcupines, and other native animal populations in Arizona, the press release said, adding that the wild animals’ habitats were lost to development; or the rescued, animals were found injured, orphaned, or abandoned before possibly being rehabilitated and released.

The release noted that the animals that cannot survive in the wild can live out their lives at the center’s accredited sanctuary that doesn’t buy, breed, sell or trade animals, or hire or used them for commercial purposes.

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