The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), in concert with the Sierra Club and other anti-hunting organizations, has filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to ban most hunting in the Mojave National Preserve, including rabbit and varmint hunting. What hunting remains (resident game birds, deer, and bighorn sheep) would be restricted. The "Petition for Rulemaking Regarding Hunting in the Mojave National Preserve" blames hunters for the declining population of the desert tortoise, a threatened species under the state's Endangered Species Act. CBD filed a similar petition in 2003, but the commission did not act on it. The commission will likely consider the CBD's petition next week and could schedule a hearing on it early next year.
The petition contains the flimsiest of evidence that hunting in the preserve is the cause or even a contributing factor of the decline in the tortoise population. In fact, statistics confirm that vehicular traffic and increased tourism within the designated critical habitat of the tortoise have increased substantially since 1994 when the preserve was established. Those activities are believed to be the leading causes of tortoise mortality. Further, there is sufficient research to suggest that predation by ravens and coyotes are also taking its toll on this protected species. The objective of the petition is not to protect and enhance the tortoise population. Rather, it is an attempt by this coalition of anti-hunting organizations to permanently end hunting in the Mojave National Preserve. CBD was also behind the ban on the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game within the range of the California condor, and earlier this year, CBD attempted unsuccessfully to extend that ban to all game species.
Please take a few minutes to contact the commission and ask that they deny the petition. Please address and mail it to:
John Carlson, Jr., Executive Director