Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), one-time contender for the Republican presidential nomination, had the best of intentions for a trip to Africa. Having heard that there are 230,000 hungry refugees from Darfur currently residing in Chad, Hunter’s staffers called the country’s embassy and proposed that their boss come hunt wildebeest and distribute the meat to refugees.

Wildebeest. Photo: Mister-E via Flickr

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Problem? There aren’t any wildebeest in Chad. And even if there were, “the Government of Chad does not permit the hunting of large mammals,” according to a missive from Chad’s embassy.

Actually, wildebeest and other large game aren’t all that common in the places they usually reside on the continent. Wars have also taken their toll on the animals, and their annual migration between Kenya and Tanzania has been threatened by poachers.

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The embassy offered him the opportunity to take part in a more traditional method of food distribution to refugees, but apparently Hunter has decided instead to try a commercial hunting expedition in Kenya, Tanzania, and Southern Africa.

ProPublica reports that this isn’t the first, er, misguided hunting proposal from Rep. Hunter. A few years back, Hunter inserted language into the 2006 defense bill to convert part of the Channel Islands National Park into a private game preserve for disabled veterans and guests of the Pentagon, to the chagrin of environmentalists. The park has several endangered species that were being pushed out by non-native deer that have been taking over the park. Hunter suggested that the disabled vets could help take out the invasive species on the park’s Santa Rosa Island.

Problem here? Well, his provision would overturn a legal agreement that the National Park Service had to eliminate invasive deer and elk by 2011. And disabled vets weren’t actually that into the idea. Oh, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America declared the plan “not viable” after declaring the terrain too mountainous for anyone in a wheelchair. Hunter’s measure was rescinded in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill.