Study Results Could End Hunting Restrictions in 19 California Refuges

If you live and hunt in California, then you better pay attention to this: The state of California could add over one million acres of public hunting opportunity if a proposal to allow hunting in state wildlife refuges is approved. But--no surprise--it's going to be fought tooth-and-nail...

From this story in the Silicon Valley Mercury News:
A century ago, when more families relied on hunting to put meat on the dinner table, it was a bold idea: set aside large swaths of land where killing animals was banned, so that deer and other wildlife could multiply and repopulate. Now, however, the California Department of Fish and Game says those refuges are a dismal failure, and it's quietly studying a plan that could end the hunting restrictions in 19 refuges across the state.

_The refuges cover nearly 1 million acres in 16 counties -- including sections of Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County, Mount Tamalpais in Marin County and parts of the Peninsula in San Mateo and San Francisco counties. Animal activists and conservationists are fighting the proposal, saying the department hasn't adequately notified the public of the potential change. Fish and Game officials, some contend, are hoping to end protections for deer, bears, turkeys, doves and other wild animals in an attempt to increase the dwindling numbers of hunters, and pump up hunting fee revenues.

"Wouldn't it be nice to hang onto the places in California where wild animals can go about their business without being shot?" said Eric Mills, coordinator of the Oakland-based group Animals for Action. "I think Fish and Game is out to improve access to hunters because it wants all the fishing and hunting license income that it can get to rescue their struggling budget." Fish and Game officials say the proposal to eliminate the refuges isn't about taking in more hunting fees. The idea is to eliminate archaic no-hunting designations that have proved of little or no value in maintaining sustainable populations of deer and other wildlife, department managers said. "None of the refuges have proven effective," Eric Loft and Sonke Mastrup, two high-ranking Fish and Game managers, wrote in an article posted on the department's website. "Nature's design for animal behavior has never coincided with man's implementation of a refuge function. Deer, among other animals, just don't do a very good job of following legislative mandates."_

Seems like a golden opportunity (pun intended) to cali hunters to get out and fight right back...