Public access to most of Santa Rosa Island at Channel Islands National Park will be restricted in the coming months to allow for a final hunt of non-native mule deer and Roosevelt elk on the island.
This hunt brings to an end a history of hunting on the island, one that included a chapter in which a member of Congress tried to turn the entire island into a hunting preserve for members of the military.
Back in 2005 U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, proposed that the Secretary of Defense take over the 52,794-acre Santa Rosa Island and convert it into a rest and relaxation retreat for the military.
Furthermore, his amendment to a defense appropriations bill directed that the defense secretary "ensure that each recreational activity, including hunting, provided as part of the operation is provided at a level comparable to or greater than the level of the activity occurring on Santa Rosa Island as the date of the enactment of this Act."
If that wasn't enough, he also wanted to use part of the island for special ops training.
Well, those efforts were blocked, and now park officials are working to remove the non-native ungulates from the island. Channel Islands Superintendent Russell Galipeau says the final hunt closures on Santa Rosa Island will run from August 28 to December 31, and that the non-native deer and elk will be eliminated from the island by the end of 2011 per a court settlement.
In recent years the commercial hunts, managed by the former island owners, have significantly reduced the number of deer and elk. The hunts they conduct from August 28 to October 11 are expected to remove most of the remaining animals. Public access during this period will be restricted to the locations outside of the hunt management area in the same manner as past years.
Following the commercial hunts the National Park Service and a cooperator will remove any remnant deer and elk. There will be a full island closure in place with no public access for a three- week period from October 11 to October 31, 2011.
From November 1 to December 31 the island will be open on weekends only. Public access during this time will be restricted to locations outside of the hunt management area. There will be no camping, including beach camping, on Santa Rosa Island from October 11 to December 31.
“These temporary closures are meant to ensure safety during this final removal of deer and elk from Santa Rosa Island,” said Superintendent Galipeau. “Beginning in 2012, there will be no visitor restrictions for hunt management.”