Diminishing Hunting Opportunities

Apr 29, 2014
Editor's Note: It's probably no surprise that we talk -regularly- with other news organizations in order to keep up with happenings around the country. Today, a look at Western Outdoor News (WON) Editor Bill Karr's response to the recently announced California big game quotas. The difference between the state's characterization of the changes and Karr's examination from a hunter's perspective may encourage you to always read between the lines in changes and improvements.

California hunters are losing hunting opportunities right and left, and another big blow was just delivered by the California Fish and Game Commission by approving the big game quotas recommended by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, resulting in major reductions of big game hunting tags this year.

A news release from DFW on April 18 gave the bad news, masked as "good news" and under the guise of impacts from a whole plethora of different situations. But bottom line, hunters are impacted big time.

To start, the Del Norte elk hunts were completely eliminated this year. Also, there was a reduction in the antlerless elk hunting opportunities in the Owens Valley hunt area. Bighorn sheep tags will not be issued at all this year for the Kelso/Old Dad hunt area, and there's a 40-percent reduction in the overall bighorn sheep tags.

Deer hunters are also impacted, as the D6 general season tag quota was lowered by 4,000 tags, from 10,000 last year to 6,000 this year. And the G11 deer hunt was cut by 50 percent, from 500 to 250 tags.

And there are more big game hunting changes, as the news release ends with this warning: "Hunters are urged to review this information carefully as there are significant tag quota changes to consider."

We here at WON have always supported wildlife management based on science and we always will. But are all of these reductions truly based on science, animal head counts, on-the-ground studies and facts? Or are part of them based on pressure from the animal-rights, anti-hunting groups that are now part of the everyday life of the Fish and Game Commission and the DFW?

We all know that the long term plan to eliminate hunting is "species-by-species", and incrementally, as the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has said time and time again. And now that HSUS is breaking bread with the Fish and Game Commissioners and high-ranking officials in the DFW, is this just another "incremental" loss to hunters?

We certainly hope not, and we don't believe that on-the-ground DFW scientists would provide "wrong data", but we wonder how that data is interpreted by the easily-influenced political appointees of the F&G Commission and the DFW. And how it would influence their final approvals? Just some food for thought, as hunters in California suffer another big loss in opportunity.

--Bill Karr

Karr is the Northern California editor for the Western Outdoor News (WON)