Rep. Lois Capps struck back yesterday at efforts to indefinitely keep Santa Rosa Island open to non-native elk and deer hunting – and with a similar legislative move from Sen. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, not to mention a Democrat-controlled Congress, her chances of success seem high.

Last year, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, tucked language into the annual defense spending bill that would suspend the National Park Service‘s plan to exterminate all elk and deer by 2011, and instead keep the land open during hunting season for use by disabled veterans and other members of the armed services. The Park Service, supported by a flock of environmentalists, argue that the two species ravage the natural habitat with their grazing, further endangering already threatened plant and animal species. Additionally, Capps contends that closing most of the 53,000-acre island to the public for five months out of the year should not be allowed to continue.

“Santa Rosa Island is a national treasure and efforts to restrict the public’s access to a National Park that it paid $30 million dollars for in order to continue a lucrative trophy hunting operation are misguided,” Capps said. Her bill matches one introduced by Boxer and Feinstein, who both fought against Hunter’s language last year.

Santa Rosa Island, the second largest in the Channel Islands National Park, is home to the island fox, the spotted skunk, and a multitude of camping and hiking spots. The Park Service bought the land in 1986, but allowed the former owners to continue running a private hunting operation, which according to the terms of a lawsuit settlement in 1998, was to be phased-out by 2011.


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