County Supervisors Oppose Proposal to Shoot Deer Population on Catalina Island

County Supervisors Oppose Proposal to Shoot Deer Population on Catalina Island

A mule deer moves through Santa Ynez Canyon in Topanga State Park in Los Angeles on May 21, 2008. (David McNew/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

4/24/2024

Updated: 4/24/2024

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors went on record April 23 opposing a proposal to eradicate the mule deer population of Catalina Island by shooting them from helicopters, a proposal being put forth in an effort to protect the island’s ecosystem.
The Catalina Island Conservancy has proposed the operation to eliminate more than 1,770 mule deer from the island, saying 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. A conservancy application to carry out the deer eradication program is still pending before the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“I understand the conservancy’s concerns with the impact of the deer population, but I disagree that shooting hundreds of animals from helicopters is the right solution,” Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents the island, said in a statement following the board’s vote in opposition to the plan. “This plan is extreme and I have heard from my constituents both on and off the island who oppose it. I am asking the conservancy to put this plan on hold and reconsider several alternative proposals they had previously dismissed—including relocating the deer, extending the deer hunting season to thin the herd, and sterilization.”
Under the motion introduced by Ms. Hahn and approved by the board, the board members will sign a letter to CDFW officials opposing the conservancy’s permit application.
“Through this letter, the board will advocate for the permit to be denied and if it is, the conservancy will be forced to continue to work on an alternative solution that could be more widely accepted and supported,” Ms. Hahn said.
Lauren Dennhardt of the conservancy said during the board meeting that quickly eradicating the deer population is essential to avoid “irreversible consequences” for the island’s ecosystem.
She told the Los Angeles Daily News 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, an 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.
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