Enter Representative Duncan Hunter, a powerful Congressional committee chairman who wants to see the hunting on Santa Rosa continue as a perk for wounded war veterans. As chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, he succeeded in adding language to the Defense Appropriation Bill that stops the plan to exterminate the deer and elk on Santa Rosa. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was expected to be signed by President Bush.
The problem is, the language in the bill does not specifically call for hunting to continue on the island. It states only that the Secretary of the Interior is required to cease the plan to exterminate deer and elk on Santa Rosa. The same rider requires the Secretary of Defense to allow service members, military retirees, disabled veterans and persons assisting disabled veterans access to lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense that are available for hunting and fishing. Importantly, Santa Rosa is not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. As part of a National Park, it falls under the Department of the Interior's responsibility. As the legislation stands now, hunting on Santa Rosa is not in the picture after 2011, which is when the Vail Family must vacate the island and turn it over to the Park Service.