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PEER Fears National Parks Could Become Game Farms


    Sometime back in the 1980s, some angler hoping to hook something bigger than a native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake, took it upon himself to dump some lake trout into the lake. Now Yellowstone National Park fisheries biologists are trying to perfect a way to kill the lake trout before they wipe out the native cutthroats. The matter has become a biological travesty.
    Now, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Bush administration is advocating a move to basically turn some national parks into game farms “to provide appropriate visitor enjoyment.”

    PEER's allegation is contained in the group’s comments to the administration’s proposed revisions to the National Park Service’s Management Policies. According to the group, a section of the revisions would allow for artificially increasing fish and wildlife populations in parks.
    Additionally, PEER alleges a section of the revisions would “subject park wildlife to state hunting regulations and would substantially weaken wilderness protections.”
    Here are some of the revisions PEER points to in its comments on the proposals:  
    1. The Bush plan explicitly allows the stocking of fish and wildlife for the purpose of "recreational harvesting" in all park units where hunting and fishing is permitted.  Currently, introduction of wildlife is limited to restoring natural ecosystem balance, such as the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.  Similarly, the plan would allow for the removal of predators in order to increase the availability of game animals, such as elk, for hunters;  
    2. Under the proposed policies, states would be given "shared jurisdiction" over park wildlife, with respect to issues such as trapping, trespass, control of "feral livestock" and other management issues. This concession to state control would compromise the ability of national parks to set stricter rules when need to conserve park wildlife; and  
    3. The Bush plan is honeycombed with provisions that restrict or supersede wilderness preservation.
    PEER says Paul Hoffman, the assistant deputy Interior secretary who has had a leading role in drafting the revisions, has a record of clashing with park officials on hunting issues. Last year, the group says, “Hoffman forced the Mojave National Preserve to illegally set up artificial water sources in order to facilitate hunting of desert wildlife which would congregate around the piped-in water.  The Hoffman plan was retracted after PEER and other organizations sued.”
    "This plan certainly was not crafted by professional park managers; it bears the paw-prints of hunting groups who have long wanted greater access to park preserves," stated PEER Board member Frank Buono, the former assistant superintendent at Mojave National Preserve, who underlined a multitude threats posed by the plan to what he termed the fundamental "three W's of national parks - wildlife, wilderness and water."  "If the devil is in the details, this plan deserves to be consigned to a fiery pit."
    You can find PEER's press release on its comments, as well as links to those comments and details on Hoffman's dealings in the Mojave preserve, here.

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