Outdoors


Animal Rights Herd Gives Logical Plan Endangered Status

THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 1995

Annie Pierce called The Spokesman-Review’s sprawling Outdoors Department on Wednesday to protest Olympic National Park’s proposal to eradicate mountain goats.

Pierce doesn’t like the idea of park rangers shooting the beasts from helicopters.

Sportsmen imported goats to the Olympic Peninsula decades ago. The goats proliferated in the park, where hunting is prohibited.

Park officials, charged with preserving the park’s native flora and fauna, are convinced the non-native goats are destroying plants that exist nowhere else.

Previous attempts to trap and remove mountain goats have proved dangerous in the rugged terrain, not to mention futile.

When Pierce declared she was a non-hunter, the liberal rednecks in the Outdoors Department braced themselves for a teary appeal to damn the plants rather than slaughter furry animals.

“I know the goats aren’t native,” she said. “If they really are threatening the native plants and mosses the park is supposed to protect, then I can see why they should be eliminated.

“But it seems so stupid to hire rangers to blast them from a helicopter and leave them. I’ll bet hunters would pay a fee to go in and shoot them, then pack out the meat and hides. We could use the money to save the salmon or something else. What a waste.”

Asked the chances of anyone being allowed to shoot goats in a park so close to the West Side infestation of animal rights zealots, a Fish and Wildlife Department employee said: “The Wildlife Department can’t kill a few frickin’ sea lions to keep a steelhead run from going extinct - and fish have a lot of friends. There’s no way they’re going to get support for killing goats in the park to save a few plants.”

Stinging state parks: The Washington legislature is putting the squeeze on state parks. A Senate budget proposal would cut the agency’s capital improvement budget from $4.5 million to $1.5 million.

That would nix plans to upgrade deteriorating facilities at Riverside State Park. These facilities at the Bowl and Pitcher haven’t seen serious improvements since they were built in the 1930s. Makes one wonder if legislators think they’d be saving money if they postponed changing the oil in their cars.

Sudden sensitivity: Conservationists had to be moved by state Sen. Bob Morton, R-Orient, who supported homeowners protesting a swap that would trade land adjacent to Riverside State Park for the Quartz Mountain inholding in Mount Spokane State Park. If the swap is approved, Morton said a million dollars in timber could be clearcut and a housing development could be built next to Riverside park.

Ahem. Perhaps if Mr. Morton wasn’t such a staunch opponent of environmental protections and growth management, we wouldn’t have to fear logging and development.

Divided they fall: Without some intense lobbying by citizens for better wildlife management, the movement to restore powers to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission appear doomed.

Senate Republicans failed by only one vote Tuesday to bail HB1540 out of the Ways and Means committee, where it may be hopelessly stuck.

Senators voted the party line. Republicans favored the sportsmen’s cause of taking the power to appoint the Fish and Wildlife Department director from the governor and giving it back to the commission, which had the authority for more than 50 years.

Democrats oppose the move. Seems silly. Reducing the politics in fish and wildlife management makes sense regardless of one’s political affiliation.

But here’s the rub. State Republicans are in a froth to trash laws that protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Their sincerity for the well-being of wildlife is a veneer as weak as the Snake River sockeye run.

Democrats ask why they should support this Republican campaign to appease sportsmen while the right-wingers maul existing laws and agencies that protect wetlands, forests, streams and shorelines.

This standoff illustrates why wildlife management should be insulated from partisan bickering.

But the politicians just can’t get themselves to let go.

You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5576, extension 5508.


 
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