Senate OKs bill to block big-game hunting on Santa Rosa Island

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Source of this article – Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2006

Washington — The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would repeal a new law allowing big-game hunts on Santa Rosa Island.

The measure was added by California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to a military construction spending bill being completed by the Senate during Congress’ lame-duck session. It was approved by voice vote without debate.

The Feinstein-Boxer measure would overturn a provision that was part of a defense funding bill signed by President Bush last month.

That provision, sponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), overturned a federal court settlement mandating that deer and elk on Santa Rosa Island be removed by 2011. Under the settlement, privately run hunts on the public island off the coast of Ventura County, part of Channel Islands National Park, also were supposed to end that year.

National Park Service officials opposed Hunter’s plan because they want to get nonnative game off the 53,000-acre island and restore native plant and animal populations. Congressional Democrats, who will assume control of both chambers in January, were also opposed.

“Today, we cleared a major hurdle in the effort to repeal Rep. Hunter’s provision that would have allowed private hunting to limit the use of Santa Rosa Island by the general public,” said Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs. “With this amendment we can ensure this beautiful part of the Channel Islands National Park remains open and its wildlife will be enjoyed by all for years to come.”

Hunter’s plan is for disabled veterans to be able to hunt for free on the island, even though the disabled-veterans group he initially enlisted for support, Paralyzed Veterans of America, decided the idea was unworkable and withdrew support.

“It’s disappointing that the senators are relentlessly trying to exterminate the deer and elk herds on Santa Rosa Island,” said Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper, adding that the congressman would work to keep his measure alive.

The House has already passed a version of the military construction and veterans affairs bill that does not include the Santa Rosa Island provision, so the Feinstein-Boxer amendment will have to survive House-Senate negotiations in the final days of the lame-duck session.



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