Friends of Animals is opposed to controlling free-living animals through hunting or birth control. The Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection’s idea of deer overpopulation is not based on science—it is propaganda from an agency that is wedded to every licensed hunter who is their client.
If the agency was not dependent on licensed hunters for its budget, it might be more considerate of the majority of the state’s population who are non-hunters. Connecticut residents who hunt—there were 46,000 in 2011—comprise just 1.3 percent of the state’s total population.
FoA is adamant that bow hunting on Sundays remains illegal so that Connecticut continues to have one day per week for nonhunters to enjoy the outdoors without having to contend with hunters.
To FoA’s dismay, on March 21, the Environment Committee approved HB 5080 that would allow the hunting in areas designated by the DEEP commissioner as overpopulated deer zones, such as Fairfield County, where it states there are 23 deer per square mile.
There are too many people, not deer in Fairfield County. The U.S. Census Bureau stats from 2010 reveal that there were 1,467.2 people per square mile in Fairfield County. So for every one deer, that’s 63 people. It’s time for the DEEP to acknowledge how humans’ reckless overdevelopment directly impacts and degrades our relationship with deer and other free-living animals. Deer should not be treated like pests in their own habitat.
Most of DEEP’s deer density data is in fact outdated. Only three of the state’s 12 deer management zones were surveyed in 2013 to determine deer density—all other zones were surveyed eight years ago in 2006.
Nature ensures that the deer population is limited by available food, territory and winter weather conditions, which restrict both food and range—thus, a natural balance. Hunting can actually cause the numbers to rise, according to biologists. In large populations, deer conceive later in the season, and that results in late-born fawns with a reduced chance of surviving through the winter. So although hunting reduces the population in the immediate sense, it stimulates early reproduction and augments the chances for survival in the next generation. And hunting—whether it’s focused on female or male deer—will mean more food remains for the survivors.
Bow hunting is a particularly brutal practice. A deer’s nervous system is as complex as our own, and when a deer is superficially shot, they suffer in prolonged agony and distress. It can take a hunter one or more days to locate a wounded deer, and when they discover it’s still alive they will cut its throat.
People need to be educated about the simple ways they can protect their flowers and ornamental bushes from deer. And they need to be made aware that hunting deer will not mean less car/deer collisions either. In 2002, Friends of Animals surveyed state wildlife departments regarding incidents in which drivers hit deer. Our findings indicate that shooting deer exacerbates the movement of deer during the mating season. The executive director of the Missouri Insurance Information Service has urged drivers to be especially cautious during the hunting season, when people are “chasing deer out of the woods.”
Notably, our study also found a significant increase in the number of deer hit by cars during hunting season: October, November and December.
The bill next moves on to the Senate. Similar legislation passed the House last year, but died in the Senate. State Sen. Ed Meyer, co-chairman of the Environment Committee, said he would push for a Senate debate on the bill prior to the midnight May 7 adjournment.
FoA is asking its Connecticut supporters to contact their local state representatives and senators and tell them you oppose HB 5080 and instead would like to see them help disseminate information about how to peacefully coexist with wildlife in the state. Click here to find a directory of your local elected officials.
You can email Meyer and tell him you oppose HB 5080 by clicking here or write to him at Capitol Office, Legislative Office Building, Room 3200 Hartford, CT 06106-1591.