It's fall. There's a crispness in the air, trees are painting the landscape with their colorful leaves, elk are in the rut. And in some national parks, hunters are being dispatched to tamp down those elk populations. Is that the right way to approach wildlife management in the National Park System?
This Saturday there's an elk hunt scheduled to begin in Grand Teton National Park. Just last week it was announced that hunters would be allowed to stalk elk in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Debate over the use of hunters to manage elk populations at Rocky Mountain National Park has long raged.
With the outright removal of natural predators from the American landscape of the Lower 48 states, and with many parks simply too small to harbor predators, few parks can rely on wolves to provide population control as they do to a certain extent in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. And birth control also is a questionable approach in many people's minds, though some parks are experimenting with it.
But do you think opening national parks, which have become refuges for wildlife and which draw visitors who relish in hearing the sound of a bugling elk at this time or year or spotting a wolf loping across a hill side, to hunters is the right way to go?