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Steve Merlo

I understand that Tejon Ranch, a local ranching and real estate conglomerate, has allowed several biologists to conduct environmental tests on the northern stretches of their ranch to determine the overall status of bobcats and coyotes. During the tests, no coyotes or bobcats will be allowed to be killed by anyone, including ranch employees. Now, that doesn't make sense, if you ask me, knowing how well-regulated bobcats already are and how completely out-of-control coyotes are.

Counting coyotes and bobcats? That may be interesting in theory, but for what end is anyone studying a well-regulated furbearing animal like the bobcat and another out-of-control, non-protected, non-game animal like the coyote? Especially the coyote! Our public and private lands are so overrun with this no longer human-fearing animal that we may never regain control over them again.

I'll tell you why I'm so against these forays into the realm of biology and fact. As far as I'm concerned, these so-called studies have been created for the possibility of adding both animals to the California "not-allowed-to-be-hunted-anywhere" list, and obviously has the complete backing of Tejon's hierarchy. This is much to the chagrin of people already in the know about both animals' status: professional biologists of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

So why should anyone care what happens on that huge expanse of private property?

While the ranch does allow well-restricted hunting, Tejon Ranch is already famous (notorious?) for always being in the forefront of forcing inane hunting practices upon its clientele that eventually become state law. This occurs whenever someone gets a case of the let's-stop-all-hunting fever and needs a new course of action to further restrict the privilege, so they go to the folks in charge of the ranch and lay some sort of sob story on them, usually about protecting some sort of wayward wildlife.

For example, the ranch was at the forefront of the condor zone legislation that forced hunters to abandon lead bullets, which was fine in local areas where the birds spent their waking and foraging hours, but the ranch didn't stop there. Because of continuing pressures from outside influential's works, the zone now extends well north of existing condor flight paths and state legislation has now been approved to unnecessarily force the entire state to use non-lead bullets.

To top it off, under pressure from anti-hunting environmentalists, Tejon also made steel shot for bird hunting on its properties mandatory, which makes no common sense whatsoever except to severely handicap hunters and cripple small game. Now, thanks in part to Tejon's unfortunate collapse in the face of pressure from anti-hunters, new state laws unnecessarily banning the use of lead shot for small game hunting statewide are already in the works and waiting to be presented for the governor's signature.

In my humble opinion, I'm not sure anyone outside the DFW needs to study either coyotes or bobcats and that the ranch's population study is and will be based more on anti-hunter input, rather than factual and proven scientific data by the department. Remember, hunters are always the first to demand positive changes whenever any animal gets in trouble or suffers population declines, basing our knowledge of how to correct the problems on scientific fact, not bleeding hearts, whimpering and crocodile tears.

Such was the case back in the early 1990s when the same type of studies somehow and erroneously depicted mountain lions as being in short supply across the entire state. This resulted in the mountain lion's status improperly being placed on a ballot initiative, resulting in a moratorium on managing them solely based on feel-good and tree hugger input rather than sane wildlife management by professional biologists.

This ignorance of the facts by a totally uninformed general public ultimately caused a catastrophic lion population boom, which immediately maimed our already severely troubled deer herds and eventually killed off more lions than sport hunting ever did due to starvation and altercations between man, livestock and his pets.

All I'm saying is that laws need to be enacted that give the California Department of Fish and Wildlife sole jurisdiction on how to manage and control our fish and game, and not allow the wishes of an uneducated, Bambi-loving and voting public to stand in the way of scientific truth and knowledge.