It is no secret that Duncan Hunter is an avid sport hunter. For years now Hunter has tried to use his perch atop the House Armed Services Committee to turn Santa Rosa Island into his own private hunting club, denying access for visitors to that part of the Channel Islands National Park.
In 2005 he authored legislation that would turn the island over to the Department of Defense with the intention of allowing military personnel and their guests be able to hunt the dear and elk that non-native to the island.[Link] The bill sought to reverse a Federal court settlement between the island's previous owners Vail & Vickers who had sold the island to the National Park Service in 1986, and the National Parks Conservation Association. The settlement had agreed to a time table for the final removal of the non-native species from the island by 2011.[Link]
In reality, the bill was never about military personnel and veterans being able to use the island for hunting. The bill was intended for Duncan Hunter to cozy up to his fat cat Defense contractor buddies, so they could have an exclusive hunting area off the coast of California.
When control of Congress changed hands last year, Representative Lois Capps whose district includes the Channel Islands authored language to reverse Hunter's 2005 legislation. Hunter tried to save his private hunting ground by once again playing the veteran card:
Hunter, ... wanted to allow herds of deer and elk to remain indefinitely on remote Santa Rosa Island, possibly so that disabled veterans could hunt them....
"This is disappointing news, when considering this proposal was solely intended to benefit our nation's wounded and disabled service personnel," Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said.[Link]
Support for Hunter's private hunting ground was thin at best;
Last year, representatives of the 21,000-member Paralyzed Veterans of America visited the island and were skeptical, saying rugged terrain and difficult access made it impractical for hunters in wheelchairs.[Link]
Yesterday, the House passed the half-trillion dollar Defense authorization bill, Representative Capps' language was included in the bill that now reverses Hunter's 2005 legislation and allows the Park Service to continue with the 1997 court settlement on the removal of the non-native species from the island.[Link]
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