To the Editor:
In a display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. It’s called U.S. Senate Bill 47.
Among other things, the measure protects 1.3 million acres as wilderness, withdraws more than 370,000 acres from mining around two national parks, expands the boundaries of several other national parks, and opens all public lands to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless otherwise specified. The Senate passed the measure by an overwhelming 92-8 vote. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, opposed the measure.
This public lands package is a big win for everyone who loves our public lands. Unfortunately, there’s a fly in the pudding. It’s found in Section 2410 — Wildlife Management in Parks.
Essentially, it says that if the Secretary of the Interior determines it’s necessary to reduce the size of a wildlife population on park lands, he or she may use qualified volunteers to assist in carrying out wildlife management.
“Wildlife management” equates to the “killing” of wildlife. This provision is alarming because of its potential for abuse by presidential appointees with personal agendas or vendettas.
In Yellowstone, for example, hundreds of bison are now culled every year. Some are captured and hauled away to slaughter houses; others fall victim to shooters waiting for them to wander outside the park’s boundaries.
This toxic provision would allow bison to be killed by so-called “qualified volunteers” inside the park.
The same provision could also allow predators such as wolves and coyotes to be hunted inside the parks.
Our national parks were created to preserve the natural order of things.
If wildlife can’t live unmolested inside our national parks, then where?
This bill goes next to the House, where it’s expected to pass with little opposition.
Urge your U.S. House representative to vote to remove this toxic provision of Section 2410.