Santa Rosa IslandWe have heard for decades that two things are certain in life – death and taxes. Well, we can easily add a third – government screw-up! Give the United States Government anything and they’ll destroy it but not until they spend billions of our tax dollars first.

Santa Rosa Island in California, part of the Channel Islands National Park, has turned into a political nightmare led by Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. If you want the history of Santa Rosa, read David Strege’s article in the Orange County Register.

Here’s the brief version. The island was owned by the Vail and Vickers family who operated a cattle ranch on the 55,000-acre island. They imported elk and deer and eventually began offering hunts to manage the elk and deer numbers and supplement the ranch’s income.

Then the biggest mistake they made, and one I would highly discourage anyone from doing, is they sold the island to the United States government to be added to the Channel Islands National Park. And so began the destruction of everything good.

Diane FeinsteinPart of the deal allowed the families to continue operating the cattle ranch and hunting operations for 25 years. The environmentalists took over and forced an end to the ranching and part of the settlement required the removal of elk and deer by 2011.

Duncan Hunter, a presidential hopeful, penned a bill that would have kept the elk and deer on the island and provided a place for military members to could go and hunt. That part of the bill was rejected but another part was passed – to keep the elk and deer on the island.

But that’s not the end of it. As is typical with our politicians who are all out of control with spending, earmarks, behind closed door wheeling and dealing at the expense of us overburdened taxpayers, Feinstein and Boxer managed to slip a provision secretly through along with the Appropriations Bill passed on Monday by the House that effectively overturns Hunter’s bill that would keep the elk and deer on the island.

According to J.R. Absher, the Newshound, in his article this week, a spokesman for the company that still runs the island operation says the animals will be slaughtered.

Barbara Boxer

Vail & Vickers Co., the former island owners who continue to manage the hunting operation, contend they were blindsided by the provision’s inclusion in the budget bill and that logistics prevent them from relocating the wild animals safely and humanely. Instead, they say, in order to comply with the terms of the original settlement, they will likely have to kill the entire elk and deer population.

“That’s a lot of animals to just needlessly kill, but that seems to be the only option left,” company spokesman Jim Youngson told the Los Angeles Times. He cited the enormous costs of transporting wildlife, the bureaucratic roadblocks to relocating the animals to public land in others states, and an exceedingly high mortality rate from trapping and moving wildlife.

The environmentalists who want the elk and deer removed say those animals are not native and they are destroying the rest of the islands ecosystem. Operators of the ranch are prepared to provide scientific evidence that this is not the case. One has to wonder what is really behind this maneuvering as animal rights groups have been silent at the prospects that over 1,000 animals will be needlessly slaughtered in order to make way for the public to have more access to the island.

Is this a case of just pure ignorance on the part of Feinstein and Boxer? Are they so stupid they don’t know they probably just signed the death warrants of 1,100 animals? It’s probably a combination of a lot things the main ingredient being politics as usual.

There’s one thing for sure. I bet the Vail and Vickers families regret the day they ever sold the island to the U.S. government. Let this be a lesson to others contemplating giving anything to this out of control and out of touch government.

Tom Remington

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