15 July 2009

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Your editorial against my proposal to thin the elk herd in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (“Elk Hunting in the Badlands,” July 8) missed the mark in several key respects.

First, nobody has proposed creating “a broad precedent for public hunting in the national parks.” My proposal applies very narrowly to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. And it does not call for an unregulated hunt; instead, it leaves full discretion to the National Park Service to set appropriate rules for the volunteer hunters who would help to thin the herd.

You also suggest that my proposal would result in shooting of bulls (male elk), as opposed to cows (female elk). My proposal does no such thing. It leaves the National Park Service full latitude to determine which elk should be culled.

Finally, you suggest that it would be less expensive to use “hired sharpshooters” than volunteer hunters. This simply defies common sense. Paying sharpshooters and using helicopters cannot possibly be less expensive than allowing North Dakota hunters to volunteer their time, at no cost, and to take the animal carcasses out of the park themselves—exactly the kind of solution Teddy Roosevelt would have wanted.

Byron Dorgan
Washington, July 9, 2009
The writer is a Democratic senator from North Dakota.