By Randal South – September 13, 2020
Efforts to ban hunting at the Lake Earl Wildlife Refuge now appear to be centered on the US Fish and Wildlife Flyway Committee. The US Fish and Wildlife Flyway Committees are open to anyone who wants to be on them. For much of the last half century the flyway committees have been dominated by pro hunting groups, and currently all three seats on the US Fish and Wildlife Flyway Committee (California Western Division) are held by the California Fish and Wildlife Agency, a state agency that makes money from hunting licenses and is devoutly pro hunting.
Recently the Eureka chapter of the Audubon Society advised that not one single member among their organization would be willing to be on the flyway committee, and a teleconference between the Eureka Audubon Society suggest that some of their members are there for pro hunting interest. The last communication from Eureka was that they would approach the California chapter because they felt it was more of a California matter than a North Coast issue.
Its hard to tell who will ultimately end up replacing the three seats currently held by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but mounting public sentiment suggest that hunting at Lake Earl is no longer supported by the majority of Californians as evidenced by the more than 140,414 signatures on a petition to ban bird hunting at the Lake Earl Wildlife Refuge https://www.thepetitionsite.com/613/953/649/stop-bird-hunting-on-the-lake-earl-wildlife-refuge/ A number of people believe that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has a conflict of interest and shouldn’t be on the flyway committee since the flyway committee is supposed to be a neutral non-partisan advisory board that merely counts ducks and geese based on radar, but the record suggest anything but.
In spite of the public’s effort to ban hunting at the Lake Earl Wildlife Refuge, the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife is not without other options for revenue to replacing bird hunting licenses, and could easily sell organized bird tours. Currently there is already organized bird tours that take place on the south end of Lake Earl, but there is no reason this couldn’t be expanded to include the east side of Lake Earl. Future updates on the politics of the proposed bird hunting ban at the Lake Earl Wildlife refuge will be covered so that the public is kept informed.”