MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —
Some people believe that the sport of hunting holds a gross disregard for wildlife, but U.S. Marine Col. Jeff Holt, deputy commander, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton disagrees completely for a variety of reasons. For instance, the hunting program aboard Camp Pendleton helps strengthen the deer population and their health.
“Our population of hunting animals are managed at a certain level,” said Holt. “Onboard Camp Pendleton our game wardens will only allow a certain amount of deer to be hunted in accordance with California rules, and only while conducting proper and safe procedures. If an animal population grows too large then it can become unhealthy due to disease or lack of habitat to feed from. The Camp Pendleton hunting program serves two purposes: “To help strengthen the deer population and to provide hunters with healthy meat.”
The Game Warden Section (GWS) on Camp Pendleton believes that the hunting program is an important part of maintaining the stewardship of the environment on the installation.
“Many people don’t realize the intersectionality between hunting and environmental stewardship,” said Emily Romig, conservation law enforcement officer, GWS, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “Our hunting program is able to provide population ecology data and also gives us the funds to do research and go out and figure out other kinds of ways to sustainably hunt. Our hunters are some of the biggest volunteers, so whenever we have volunteer opportunities they are the first people to volunteer and go out with us to collect data and other things like that that we will need for future hunting.”
Romig said that the Camp Pendleton hunting program is a high quality sustainment program that is open to military and their families. As such, it is one of the safest and highest rated programs in all of California, because of its exclusivity.
“If you are new to hunting, Camp Pendleton is a great place to start out in,” said Holt. “You are going to find out that there are other knowledgeable folks available to teach you some things. Hunting is a challenge, it gets you outdoors and is a great exercise.”
Holt said that in 1930, Camp Pendleton was a ranch that supported 25,000 head of cattle. Ranchers invested in a lot of springs, windmills, water guzzlers and water troths to sustain that amount of cattle. They did very well in protecting their investment. To this day, many of those water sources allow Camp Pendleton’s wildlife to sustain themselves.
“This was a large cattle ranch so when we took it over in 1942,” said Holt. “We made this into a large training base for Marines before they deployed in World War II, but we never forgot who we were. We have been hunting on Camp Pendleton for as long as the installation was formed.”
The Camp Pendleton hunting program offers a wide variety of game animals to hunt which include: deer (with archery or rifle) in the fall, squirrel and coyote all year round, crow and quail, and waterfowl during the winter.
The Game Warden Office offers free hunter education programs and honors hunter education certificates from other states. Once potential hunters’ receive a California hunting state license, they can go to the Game Warden Office to get a base permit that allows them to hunt on base whenever training areas are available.
“We make sure hunters are out there are hunting safely, ethically and sustainably,” said Romig.
For further information contact the Game Wardens Office at 760-725-3360 or visit https://www.pendleton.marines.mil/Staff-Agencies/Environmental-Security/Game-Warden/