When the clock runs out on those hunts for Roosevelt elk and Kaibab-strain mule deer on Santa Rosa Island, a truly extraordinary chapter will have been written in the history of private land big game management. The man behind these hunts, of course, is Wayne Long of Multiple Use Managers, who struck a deal to hunt the 86-square-mile island more than two decades ago, when no one even dreamed the National Park Service would forcibly buy the place and doom its magnificent game populations, extant there since the turn of the century. Indeed, those animals are doomed, however, as were the cattle that used to graze there until two years ago. The animal-removal program is being carried out as the island is slowly incorporated into the nation's newest National Park, Channel Islands National Park. Roosevelt elk and mule deer, it is argued, did not occur here naturally, so every last one of them must go. The latest timetable calls for the present mule deer and elk population levels to be reduced by 50 percent by 2008, with the remaining populations removed by 2011. At that point, the largest animals on the island, other than transient sea lions, will be foxes about the size of toy collies. The unimproved road system on the island is also slated for destruction, meaning most of the rugged, mountainous island will be accessible only to backpackers - who are expected to be small in number, incidentally, because of the near-absence of interesting fauna.
We've reported all this before, and here is not the place to go into a long discussion of the pro's and con's of eliminating the deer and elk, not to mention the cattle ranching operation that was as colorful as any in the American West. What's worthy of note here is Wayne Long's prediction published here several years ago that the elimination of cattle from the island and the reduction of game numbers would lead to an improvement of range conditions and trophy quality. Was he ever right!
This season's results speak for themselves. Multiple Use Managers hosted 45 trophy deer........(continued)