© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Harris' Hawk Blog, wrote up a post on invasive species, and the double standard upon which management issues are decided. (Forget about science based wildlife management!) He finished up with an open question:
"Think about the double standard. Should we be hunting pythons in Florida? Horses in Virginia? Nutria in Louisiana? Red fox, donkey, sparrow, starling, wild pig?" Python Season
I got to thinking about what Doug said. Personally I am all for hunting anything that doesn't belong on our native soil. The question becomes fraught with problems though, when you plug in the economic or political factor.
Take horses for instance. Out west there are areas where they have eaten themselves, and everything else that lives in their range, out of fodder. During the mid-nineties wild horses on the White Sands missile range died when there range became over grazed and water holes dried up.
"The BLM's current estimate is that there are 37,000 wild horses and burros on public lands in the West, about half of them in Nevada. (Opponents of the roundup believe it's more like 15,000.) However, nearly that many, 34,000, are kept in government-run corrals and pastures. Already this year, the BLM has spent $50 million to manage the wild horses in the West; last year, it was $36
million. As the numbers increase, so do the costs." BLM Report 12/09
I wonder how much forage 60,000 horses are consuming that would otherwise be feeding mule deer, antelope, and elk?
But the urban people and congress would never permit the eradication of the wild mustangs of the West. Never mind that the horse is domestic animal bred for human use; never mind that it just doesn't belong in the environment; and never mind that it is livestock and should be managed as livestock not as scenery!
That's just one species, a cute, romantic, and familiar one. But there others that aren't as cute or cuddly. Take the Gambian Pouch Rat now found on Grassy Key here in my home state.
Image Credit: WikiPedia
Again, here is a species that was illegally released into the wild by an irresponsible and undoubtedly brainless individual. My suggestion is to allow the use of powerful air-rifles and 22 rimfires within the confines of Grassy Key for the sole purpose of killing those danged Pouch Rats.
Silver River State Park and Morgan Island in South Carolina. Lionfish, native to the South Pacific are now in US Atlantic tropical waters.
I have a personal like for house cats. But many years ago a big female cat we had came home with a bright red Cardinal in her jaws. Poor Bubby was just a little fellow and saw the blood thirsty feline carrying her prize first. He chased that cat down and made her drop the songbird, but it was too late for the Cardinal. Bubby came to us bawling his bright blue eyes out, tears cutting tracks on his dusty face, the songbird in the open palms of his hands.
After a suitable service for the bird, we talked about the predator-prey relationship. I explained how cats have never lost their affinity for hunting and killing even though they have been "domesticated" almost as long as dogs.
After that though, I have forbidden the keeping of outside cats. The few we had on the hacienda were already neutered or spayed, and I was vigilant to try to secure them in the evenings.
I ran a series of Hav-A-Hart traps too keep the burgeoning population of cats down. The biggest problem was the possums and raccoons I regularly caught. But after several months, and dozens of trips to the local humane society, I had made a sizable dent in the feral cat population.
All of these animals, both wild and feral are potentially disruptive to the environment and destructive to our native fauna. As far as being vectors for diseases, I am not as concerned about that as I am with the destruction of our plants and animals. Most of the diseases that we can catch from any animal are treatable. (Well, most are See: Monkey Business.) Extinct on the other hand, isn't!
I strongly urge anyone with the ability and temperament to hunt, trap, or otherwise destroy invasive non-native species do so where it is legal to do so, and in a legal manner. In other words, don't bust out the unplugged 12 gauge Browning Auto 5 and shoot at the English sparrows on the bird feeder! Use good sense...
everyone knows a side by side 28 is better...
Albert A Rasch
Member: Bagram Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...