Catalina Island Officials Drop Plan to Shoot Deer From Helicopters

Catalina Island Officials Drop Plan to Shoot Deer From Helicopters

A mule deer at Dos Rios State Park in the San Joaquin Valley, in a file photo. (Brian Baer/California State Parks)

City News Service

City News Service

5/30/2024

Updated: 5/30/2024

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LOS ANGELES—A proposed plan to shoot Catalina deer from helicopters to reduce the island’s deer population has been scrapped, the Los Angeles County Fish and Wildlife Commission announced May 29.
In a special meeting Wednesday morning, the commission decided to rework plans to address the more than 1,770 mule deer on the island. The Catalina Island Conservancy had originally proposed the helicopter shooting operation because the animals are devouring native plants into extinction, potentially leading to long-term ecological damage that could leave the island more vulnerable to wildfires when more fire-prone vegetation thrives.
“We have heard the concerns expressed by residents and by Supervisor [Janice] Hahn, and per her request, we are working on revising our plan to prioritize other methodologies,” Lauren Dennhardt, senior director of conservation for the Catalina Island Conservancy, said in a statement.
The plan garnered opposition from residents and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Last month, Ms. Hahn, who represents Catalina Island, led the board to oppose the aerial shooting plan and asked the conservancy to reconsider alternative solutions, such as relocating the deer, extending the deer hunting season to thin the herd, and sterilization.
“I appreciate the conservancy for listening to the serious concerns people had about this plan, especially from people living on the island,” Ms. Hahn said in a statement. “I heard from residents who were terrified at the thought of bullets raining down from helicopters over their beloved island and others who couldn’t stand the thought of the deer carcasses that would be left in their wake.”
Ms. Hahn added, “I am hopeful that the next plan that the conservancy puts forward can earn more widespread support from residents and everyone who loves Catalina Island.”
Ms. Dennhardt previously told the Los Angeles Daily News that she had concerns that a two-year effort to restore the native plants that have been destroyed by the deer will fail unless the deer are removed. She said alternative methods offered by Ms. Hahn are unlikely to succeed, and unless native vegetation is restored, more invasive and flammable plants will emerge and raise the fire danger.
Ms. Dennhardt told the paper she also hates to see the deer population eliminated, but it’s the only way to save the island’s natural environment.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Ms. Dennhardt said future plans will take time to develop, but in the meantime a regular hunting season will take place this fall.
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