By Lance Stapleton
Senior Western Correspondent
The last shot on Santa Rosa Island marked the end of one of the most remarkable wildlife success stories in North America, and unfortunately, in my opinion one of the most distasteful examples of government arrogance and waste I can remember.
The Santa Rosa story has been well reported in these pages by me and others. Introduced in the early 20th century, mule deer and Roosevelt elk thrived, making Santa Rosa the place to go if you wanted to tag a 200-inch mulie buck or a trophy Roosevelt. MUM's wildlife management efforts produced remarkable results: year after year, the hunting just kept getting better, culminating in the 2010 hunts where the average buck measured 30 inches wide and scored SCI 200-1/2 points. Roosevelt elk bulls averaged 270 points! In 2011, MUM again produced comparable statistics for their last 40 hunters.
The fight to eradicate wildlife on Santa Rosa and turn the island over to the National Park Service was long and fierce and, again, well-reported. You may not know that there was a brief time when Republicans held the majority in Congress and Representative Duncan Hunter was successful in saving hunting on the island. But then the Wicked Witches of the West (Senators Boxer and Feinstein) stepped in when the Democrats regained power and reversed Hunter's amendment.
In another slight of hand, the Park Service contracted the final eradication to a non-profit company (White Buffalo) without going to bid. White Buffalo promptly subcontracted the project to a for-profit company, Pro Hunt, which benefitted from free services provided by the Park Service.....