One of the most frustrating things about any state legislative session is all the time spent writing, debating, amending and voting on bills that are not in the best interest of the citizens.
A prime case in point is House Bill 1346, which would allow hunting in state parks. The bill calls for a three-year pilot project in four state parks to explore the feasibility, limits and benefits of hunting on lands currently protected from such activity.
Even a pilot project is a bad idea. The bill sits in the House General Government and Information Technology Committee — now that’s a mouthful — and that’s where the bill should die a quiet death.
The state already has 9 million acres of land open to hunting. The state parks system should be a refuge from hunting, a place where families and individuals go to swim, hike, camp, watch birds and pursue other passive forms of recreation without the threat of gunfire. In addition, the wildlife residing in state parks should be left to their own devices, free from the threat of hunters.
Let’s assume for a moment that one of the ideas behind the ill-advised bill is to use controlled hunts on state parklands to manage wildlife, perhaps to deal with nuisance animals or populations of animals growing faster than the habitat can sustain. There are other tools in the wildlife management toolbox, for example, capture and relocation, better suited for use in a park.
Meeting the requirements of a transparent pilot project would be time-consuming, cumbersome and costly. The state’s natural resource managers have more important things to do.
A continued prohibition on hunting in state parks is not a slam against hunters or hunting. State parks are just the wrong place for his activity.