Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Poachers can do more harm than wolves

Having read the story (Feb. 10) about the poaching ring in the region, I'm reminded of a similar incident occurring in California's coastal mountains recently.

I had the opportunity to manage a large cattle operation high in the mountains overlooking Carmel Valley, Calif. Coastal blacktail deer were everywhere when I first came to the ranch. As time went by and seasons moved from one summer to the next, the number of deer on the ranch seemed to decline rapidly. As ranchers have plenty to do with fence repairs, calving, tagging, vaccinating, fixing water troughs, cutting brush and beating back poison oak, we all overlooked the declining deer population.

After stumbling across a freshly processed deer carcass in the back of a worker's car did we discover that one individual, over the course of several years, had killed, processed and sold the meat of some 80 head of blacktails. (We found the processing area hidden in the deep woods). The poacher killed indiscriminately. Small does', fawns' and bucks' heads and hides were discovered in a canyon on the ranch. The poacher was a pipeline for meat brought into the nearby community of Salinas.

The deer population on the ranch and nearby ranches had been wiped out.

Let's not blame the deer and elk population declines on wolves when poaching could be the culprit. Give Fish and Game the resources to aggressively pursue poachers. In my own experience, I have come to know that one poacher can impact wildlife populations to a larger degree than any natural predator.

Bill Pereira


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