LA County Tries to Stop Catalina Island Plans to Put Down Invasive Deer Using Helicopters

A proposal from California’s Catalina Island to put down invasive mule deer by helicopter has drawn a scathing response from Los Angeles County leadership.

The Catalina Island Conservancy, which manages 88 percent of the land in the unincorporated territory, presented a plan to the Department of Fish and Wildlife last August to eradicate the population, due to its negative impact on the island’s wildlife.

But since that initial presentation, members of the public have pushed back against the plans, leading the region’s county supervisor, Janice Hahn, to send a letter last week to Fish and Wildlife, calling for the plans to be rejected. with the unanimous support of the other four. supervisors

“To eradicate the entire Catalina Island population of more than 1,770 mule deer through aerial gunfire from helicopters is inhumane and drastic, and potentially dangerous to the public,” Hahn wrote in the April 23 letter. “Less extreme measures to control the deer population that do not pose a public safety risk should be considered and used.”

The Catalina Island Conservancy plan examines various methodologies to mitigate the mule deer population, which was introduced to the island in the early 1930s as a game species.

“As an invasive animal, mule deer destroy native and endemic vegetation found only on Catalina Island, which evolved without defense mechanisms against mule deer and outside threats,” the group said. “Deer have no natural predators, so their population goes through extreme boom and bust cycles.”

That population can range from 500 to more than 1,800 animals depending on rainfall, according to the Conservancy. With population densities eight to 10 times higher than on the mainland, Catalina’s deer are stripping the island of its native vegetation, but are otherwise starving, the group argued.

The Conservancy explored six different types of mitigation methodologies, such as mass sterilization through contraceptives or surgery. Access to enough deer in 70 square miles would be difficult, while the contraceptive treatment could take years to work properly, the group argued.

Meanwhile, relocation would mean engaging in a capture process that sometimes causes the animals to die of stress-induced kidney or heart failure, the group noted. There is also no guarantee that the deer will easily adapt to a new environment, the report added.

The introduction of natural predators could cause more problems with the ecosystem, while also posing a threat to humans, according to the Conservancy. The group found that assigning recreational hunters to remove the deer could be “effective when combined with other methods,” but could end up being dangerous, time-consuming and expensive.

Evaluating the possibility of corralling the deer to physically isolate them, the writers found that doing so would be challenging due to the island’s rugged landscape, while also preventing the population from accessing life-sustaining natural resources .

On the other hand, the Conservancy characterized sniper shooting from helicopters as “an effective and efficient method of eliminating large numbers of deer in a relatively short period of time.” Such an approach could occur “in a controlled and organized manner” and would not be limited by topographical obstacles, the group found.

In Hahn’s letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, he cited “intense public outcry” and “significant community opposition” that led supervisors to request denial of the permit application.

“I understand the Conservancy’s concerns with the impact on the deer population, but I do not agree that slaughtering hundreds of animals from helicopters is the right solution,” Hahn said in an accompanying statement.

Last week, he noted that two petitions to halt the eradication plans had amassed nearly 90,000 signatures.

“This plan is extreme and I have heard from my constituents both on and off the island that they oppose it,” Hahn continued. “I am asking the Conservancy to put this plan on hold and reconsider several alternative proposals that they had previously rejected.”

When asked about the county’s letter, the Conservancy said in a statement, “While we are disappointed, we remain dedicated to finding a path forward with the County Supervisor’s Office to make Catalina Island a safer, more self-sustainable and resilient for future generations.”

The Hill has reached out to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for comment.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

#County #Stop #Catalina #Island #Plans #Put #Invasive #Deer #Helicopters
Image Source :

Leave a Comment