Hunting on reserve makes sense

An avid hunter, fisherman and working biologist.

Your story on the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve [“Ecological reserve or hunting grounds?” Newslines, May 30] did not address the main point of the news story, which was the supposed conflict between increased hunting and the priority purposes of the reserve, which are habitat protection, research and education. I’m not sure if this was a CN&R oversight, or perhaps it may very well be that there are no valid conflicts.

You did include some outdated, inflammatory and misguided quotes about people getting shot, wildlife being scared away and children being traumatized by hunters, along with some supposed legal concerns. However, even if these were true problems and not just the manifestations of anti-hunters, these are conflicts with other recreational uses of the reserve, not conflicts with the priority reserve purposes.

The fact is, hunting is completely compatible with the primary purpose of the reserve, which is habitat protection. And, as I recall, the primary habitat being protected is for the threatened spring-run salmon and steelhead; I doubt increased hunting will affect a couple of fish species. There are very few research projects even being conducted on the reserve right now, so conflicts with the other priority research activities couldn’t be very many at the present time.

I recommend a simple solution: Look at the DFG hunting proposal, identify where this would impact habitat protection and university research, and implement measures to remedy these impacts. These may include area closures, season limits and/or gear restrictions.

For decades DFG has been using these management techniques on its wildlife areas, where hunting is completely compatible with other activities such as habitat protection, research, fishing and hiking. With more than 4,000 acres on the reserve, there is no reason these activities can’t coexist. Not unless there are forces at work to eliminate hunting on the reserve, which would constitute a violation of the public trust.

The University Foundation received millions of dollars in public money from the Wildlife Conservation Board to purchase the reserve, with the agreement that DFG would operate a hunting program. DFG is simply living up to its end of the bargain by implementing an effective, legitimate hunting program on the reserve, with constant diligence in making sure that this program does not conflict with habitat protection, research and education.

University staff have assured me on numerous occasions that the hunting program’s implementation is DFG’s responsibility (even though the hunting application fees go to the University Foundation). Now the University Foundation needs to live up to its end of the bargain and let DFG do its job. I am concerned that attempts are being made to conjure up conflicts in order to limit implementation of a legitimate hunting program up there, a dangerous pattern that will easily spill into other recreational uses such as fishing and hiking.