Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Hunting

Slaughter on the Island: Highjacking the Flag of Conservation

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By Lacey Biles, NRA-ILA Hunting Policy Liaison

Nestled in the Pacific Ocean approximately 30 miles from the mainland of Santa Barbara sits a beautiful island where majestic Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer roam free. Ferried across a treacherous channel, these grand species were brought to Santa Rosa Island some 80 years ago, but their days are officially numbered. A complete slaughter of these magnificent animals is scheduled to occur before the midnight tide rises on Dec. 31, 2011. Sharpshooters will be en route to the island soon to comply with a 1996 court settlement and 2007 legislation that reinstated the extermination order.

The 83-square-mile island was privately owned for more than a century before being sold to the National Park Service in 1986 for $30 million. Used as a cattle and sheep ranch for much of its modern history, overgrazing disrupted the balance of the island`s ecosystem. The 1996 lawsuit settlement required the removal of all cattle, sheep and feral hogs from the island, followed by a phased reduction of elk and mule deer to culminate at the end of 2011 with complete extermination.

As this is a government-mandated animal slaughter, you may ask where the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been in the process. They have been curiously absent, giving us a clear picture of their definition of "conservation." In fact, HSUS` congressional allies, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, blocked NRA`s efforts to prevent the slaughter in 2007 by inserting a provision into the omnibus appropriations bill that reinstated the extermination order. The animal-saving law blocked by the three lawmakers would have allowed disabled veterans to hunt the majestic elk and mule deer based on biologists` harvest recommendations.

The battle over Santa Rosa Island illustrates diverging definitions of "conservation." Theodore Roosevelt was largely responsible for sparking America`s conservation movement after witnessing the detritus left behind by the 19th century`s commercial big game slaughter. An avid hunter throughout his life, Roosevelt could not countenance big game populations dwindling below sustainable hunting levels. He helped to create the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, which used regulated hunting as an essential tool to bring back numerous species from the brink of extinction and help them thrive again.

Regulated hunting of Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer on Santa Rosa Island has been employed and celebrated for decades, keeping populations in check that have no natural predators. Although the presence of such majestic beasts enriches the experience of all who visit the island, HSUS and PETA seem to prefer total extermination of the elk and deer populations rather than allowing one more hunter to take to the field. Again, these anti-hunting extremists refuse to acknowledge that hunters are largely responsible for preserving America`s wild lands and the wild things that Roosevelt held sacrosanct.

Animal "rights" extremists have tried to seize the word "conservation" and change its definition to remove hunting as a tool. Unfortunately, they have had some success and Santa Rosa Island may be their next victory.

The impact that domestic cattle and sheep, and feral hogs, can have on a unique landscape such as Santa Rosa Island is well known. A total of 1,175 hogs were killed during the `90s, but estimates put the number of hogs as high as 3,200 prior to a major drought in the late `80s. With voracious appetites, it is no wonder that the flora and fauna suffered tremendously. Some states see significant habitat impacts with similar hog populations. After the removal of domestic cattle, sheep and feral hogs, Santa Rosa`s ecosystem dramatically rebounded.

So why have the elk and mule deer been sentenced to die when the island`s ecosystem is rebounding? No reasonable answer has been given; the only explanation is that the two ungulate species are "non-native." Allowing the North American Wildlife Conservation Model to prevail through elk and mule deer management would mean a modicum of impact on the island`s environment. That is apparently too tall an order for HSUS and PETA because it would mean continued hunting of a few animals. The animal "rights" folks instead sit idly by as government-paid sharpshooters are scheduled to perform a 19th century-style slaughter, with the modern twist of using helicopters instead of horses.

There are only three native terrestrial mammals on Santa Rosa: the deer mouse, island fox and spotted skunk. With the domestic cattle, sheep and feral hogs gone from the island, a proper ecosystem could be easily maintained with the continued inclusion of scientifically managed elk and deer herds.

Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer are only found in a small segment of North America and they are a celebrated part of Santa Rosa for a multitude of visitors from hikers to hunters. The isolated island population of these magnificent animals represents an important insurance policy if disease ever broke out on the mainland that could lead either species to extinction. Having an isolated species pool, a Noah`s Ark of sorts, can prove invaluable as proper elk and mule deer habitat on the mainland continues to erode because of urbanization, leaving species` health prone to widespread disease events.

President Roosevelt eloquently wrote of elk in 1902:

"Surely all men who care for nature, no less than all men who care for big game hunting, should combine to try to see that not merely the states but the Federal authorities make every effort, and are given every power, to prevent the extermination of this stately and beautiful animal, the lordliest of the deer kind in the entire world."

I believe that the president who sparked the American conservation movement would write the very same words about the Santa Rosa slaughter today. The elk and mule deer herds could be so managed through hunting and other means as to have minimal impact on the island`s various flora and fauna with a continued existence as balanced members of the island`s ecosystem. This would continue the North American Wildlife Conservation Model that has become the envy of the world, albeit to the angst of the animal "rights" crowd simply because hunting would continue. It makes one wonder if these anti-hunting extremists would prefer to see more animals exterminated so that, in their twisted minds, no "suffering" would exist. It is hard to see any other way they would be satisfied given their inaction on Santa Rosa.

Rest assured that NRA will continue the fight to save the Santa Rosa elk and mule deer to the final hour. Join the fight; contact your United States senators and representative and ask them to call off the sharpshooters. If all concerned NRA members join forces, perhaps we can prevent the senseless slaughter of these remarkable animal populations and keep the animal "rights" extremists from taking hunting out of conservation.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Hunting/Conservation
TRENDING NOW
No Gov. Northam, Your Gun Ban is NOT Constitutional

News  

Friday, December 13, 2019

No Gov. Northam, Your Gun Ban is NOT Constitutional

As Virginia gun owners have shown their displeasure with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed attack on their rights in city and county meetings across the Old Dominion, Northam has been forced to answer questions about ...

Virginia Gov. Northam Seeks Gun Registration as Down Payment on Gun Confiscation

News  

Friday, December 13, 2019

Virginia Gov. Northam Seeks Gun Registration as Down Payment on Gun Confiscation

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) must think that Old Dominion gun owners are stupid. After months of Northam and his Michael Bloomberg-backed General Assembly allies advocating for the enactment of gun confiscation legislation, the governor ...

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

Michael Bloomberg’s bought and paid for Virginia legislators have wasted no time introducing legislation that would make the Old Dominion’s gun laws worse than those of the billionaire’s home state of New York.

Pro-Gun Bill Introduced to Protect Lawful Gun Carriers from Federal-State Legal Trap

News  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pro-Gun Bill Introduced to Protect Lawful Gun Carriers from Federal-State Legal Trap

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced a bill that would protect persons lawfully carrying firearms under state law, including in those states that do not require a carry permit, from being snared ...

Member Spotlight: Meet the hunter who stands up to those who call her a ‘murderer'

Hunting  

News  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Member Spotlight: Meet the hunter who stands up to those who call her a ‘murderer'

America’s hunters are increasingly under fire by political extremists. Hunter and philanthropic consultant Britt Longoria has been at the center of an online hate campaign by animal rights extremists who don’t understand where their food ...

Senate Confirms Hunter-Friendly Candidate to Oversee Wildlife Management

News  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Senate Confirms Hunter-Friendly Candidate to Oversee Wildlife Management

The NRA-ILA applauds the U. S. Senate for confirming Aurelia Skipwith to serve as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Crooked California: Bad Gun Control Laws Once Again Foster Official Corruption

News  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Crooked California: Bad Gun Control Laws Once Again Foster Official Corruption

In news that will not shock gun rights supporters, the anti-gun utopia of California has provided further evidence that unjust gun control laws invite official corruption. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s ...

Breaking! Federal Court Finds California Magazine Ban Violates the Second Amendment

News  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Breaking! Federal Court Finds California Magazine Ban Violates the Second Amendment

In one of the strongest judicial statements in favor of the Second Amendment to date, Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California determined on Friday that California’s ...

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Friday, December 6, 2019

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Michael Bloomberg’s bought-and-paid-for new Virginia majorities have wasted no time introducing an extremist bill that would make the Commonwealth one of the most hostile states for law-abiding gun owners.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.