OPINION — For some reason, the people in California don’t seem to be reading my column. I’m as surprised as you are about that, but the facts pretty much speak for themselves. If the folks running the Golden State did read my column, you’d think they’d’ve fixed a bunch of their problems by now. Not so much.

They still haven’t repealed their insane law, backed by failed governor Gavin Newsom, that all new cars sold in Cali must be electric by 2035, even though they can’t keep the lights on as it is, when only about four percent of the vehicles in the state are electric. They haven’t allowed mountain lion hunting in the state since 1972, despite an overpopulation of cougars, most of them four-legged. Last month Newsom signed a law that will require microstamping on all pistols by 2028, despite the fact it won’t help solve crime. And to top it off, you still can’t get a plastic straw in Cali, even though studies show that paper straws are actually worse for the environment. You have to use a paper straw, which comes in a plastic wrapper. For your protection.

Honestly, the great folks in Florida have made valiant efforts lately, but California is still, by far, the dumbest state in the Union. You’d think they might coast for a bit, do a few things that aren’t crazy, use just a little common sense now and then. You’d be wrong.

Catalina Island postcard

Catalina Island postcard

Cali’s latest debacle involves Santa Catalina Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean about 22 miles west of Los Angeles. It’s a pretty good-sized chunk at nearly 48,000 acres, but most of it is mountainous and rough, so almost all the hotels and tourist attractions are located along its coastline. The rest of the island is full of wildlife, like wild goats, feral chickens, snakes, lost tourists, and mule deer. Lots of mule deer. Way more mule deer than the flora of the island can support.

The mule deer were introduced to Catalina Island in the 1930s, and have proliferated profusely during the past century, since they have no natural predators there. They’ve gotten pretty comfortable, even wandering into tourist venues. They’re still wild, but they’ve figured out no one is going to shoot them. Visitors to the island often feed them, which is illegal, and the muley population has grown to about 1,800, which is about 1,600 or so more than the island can support, even with the welfare handouts. And as you can imagine, they’re destroying the ecosystem on the island, eating all the vegetation, causing soil erosion, and threatening the other critters that live there. ‘You other critters need to leave, or else,’ is the kind of thing the mule deer say, by way of threat to the other animals. They’re mean.

A Mule Deer

A Mule Deer

Even Californians can tell something has to be done about the muleys. So the Catalina Island Conservancy decided, way too late, of course, to thin the herd. And since there’s evidently no one in Cali who knows how to shoot a rifle anymore, they’re planning to bring in some marksmen from Connecticut to cull a bunch of the deer from helicopters with AR-15s. They’re doing it that way because it’s so much fun . . . I mean because so much of the island is difficult to access on foot. That must be it.

As you can imagine, that idea went over like a lead balloon with Cali’s sissies. A petition to stop the cull has over 3,500 signatures and counting. Dianne Stone, vice president of the Catalina Island Humane Society, said the planned hunt is violent and ugly. Obviously, Dianne has never had the supreme pleasure of shooting nuisance animals from a chopper. It is, without question, one of the most thrilling things you can do with a rifle. Well, to normal people it is.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Dianne, in an interview for the L.A. Times, said, ‘We are completely against the slaughter of innocent mule deer on Catalina Island.’ And that’s how you can tell Dianne has no concept of the role animals play in the world. Bless her heart.

This the problem with the bunny huggers. They think animals are innocent. They’re not. But then, they aren’t guilty, either. The rules that apply to people don’t equate to beasties. People can be innocent or guilty. Animals don’t even understand the concept. They can be dangerous or docile. Edible or toxic. Domesticated or wild. Typical or atypical. They can’t be innocent or guilty.

When a dog urinates on a fire hydrant, he’s not committing vandalism. He’s just being a dog. Wild animals operate by instinct, necessity, and experience, not rules and prohibitions. Their goal is survival, and the test is pass/fail. To say an animal is innocent implies that it could, depending on its actions, be guilty.

And if that’s the case, then the mulies on Catalina are all guilty. They’ve procreated beyond their habitat’s capacity, damaged their environment, eaten the vegetation down to unsustainable levels, and destroyed the ecosystem for its other inhabitants. Sounds exactly like the sins we’re always being accused of by the earth first crowd. So they’re guilty.

I’m a little more pragmatic. The way I see it, the mule deer do nothing but eat plants, procreate, and emit excretions and methane. Which is exactly what vegans do, and they don’t exactly improve the view, either.

But the bunny huggers are a pretty loud bunch, so they’ll probably manage to stop the cull, which won’t solve the problem. I guess they’ll have to get Newsom to pass a law. That should do it . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who shot a squirrel in his church building last week. Write to him at [email protected]

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