May 3, 2005

OUR OPINION: Pulling the plug on wildlife

Victor Valley Daily Press

So the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmentalist group that has taken the appelation "tree huggers" to new heights, is again on the march in its attempt to control the desert. This time, the group has resorted to its favorite tactic — a lawsuit — to stop the conversion of wells left on abandoned ranches into "guzzlers" as watering holes for wildlife. Another environmentalist organization, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, has joined in the suit.

Daniel Patterson, speaking for the Center, told the Daily Press this week he was not opposed to hunting in the Mojave National Preserve — where the wells are — but that hunting "would be better" if a natural ecosystem were maintained.

"Better," of course, is entirely subjective. We're reasonably certain the Center would agree that the presence of a more accessible and dependable water supply would result in more wild animals, which, for hunters, means "better" hunting.

Absence of water would mean fewer animals, wouldn't it? So the Center seems to be making an argument that, if applied to housing, would insist that fewer houses make it easier to buy one. That's upside down.

But of course the hunting argument is a pretext. What's really of concern to the Center, and to PEER, is our old friend the desert tortoise. The guzzlers, they say, attract ravens, which prey on desert tortoise hatchlings.

But even that is wide of the real reason for all of this, which is that hunters are humans who like to go into the wild to pursue their avocation, and the Center for Biological Diversity and PEER, as do all environmental activists, think humans should be barred from places like the Mojave National Preserve.