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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NY Times Editorial Gets It Wrong Again

The New York Times has an editorial this morning opposing U.S. Senator Bryon Dorgan's (D-ND) bill that would allow for the public hunting of Elk in Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in western North Dakota.

The herd has grown from the 47 that was released into the southern part of the Park in 1985 to approximately 900 - a level above which the park's ecosystem can handle. According to the editorial, Dorgan has inserted a rider into the Interior Department appropriations bill that would allow for a public hunt to cull the herd.

The Times opposes this because:

The idea violates both common sense and the very idea of a national park. would authorize an activity — public hunting — that is proscribed by the founding legislation for the national parks and their current management policies.

The Times' answer to the problem:

Rocky Mountain National Park provides a better model. There, hired sharpshooters have culled cow elk in parts of the park that are closed to the public. This is a safer, more efficient and less expensive way of reducing numbers than shooting bulls, which is what most hunters do.

That statement just shows how little the Times knows about hunting as a wildlife management tool. There are hunters every year who draw cow elk tags and gladly fill them. A public hunt could be managed in the same manner that other hunts are managed on public land in western states. In fact, the management of the hunt could be turned over to the state DNR, they could hold a lottery for tags, and issue more cow elk tags than bulls. Hunters are resource managers. While many would like a trophy, most enjoy the hunt and would be happy with what animal, cow or bull, that is taken in the hunt.

The Times undercuts their case by pointing out that limited hunting is allowed in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park under an exception in the law establishing the park in 1950 and even points out that Dorgan's rider is based on that model. So it would appear that the times is more concerned that this would start a snowball effect, opening hunting up in more National Parks. Hunting already occurs on other federal lands without incident. This hunt to cull the elk herd in TR National Park can be carried out without infringing on other public uses of the park.

Hunters are our best wildlife managers. They can safely and effectively manage the elk herd in TR National Park. The Times just doesn't know what it is talking about on this one.

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