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Nine Days of Hell in Devil's Den

November 16, 2004 | Deer

Darien, Connecticut -- When does the heavenly peace of southwestern Connecticut's largest nature preserve turn into hell on earth?

It's happening now, under the control of the wealthiest nature conservation group in the United States.

On the 17th, 18th, 19th, 29th, and 30th of November, and again on the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th of December, the Nature Conservancy will host an exclusive trophy hunt, transforming Devil's Den Nature Preserve into a hell for the deer who consider its winding trails and gentle hills their home.

Devil's Den director Stephen Patton has welcomed the hunters into the 1,746-acre preserve. Indeed, it was deer-hunting advocacy that led to Patton's recent appointment to chair a controversial deer management committee in the nearby town of Weston, Connecticut.

It's not the first time the Nature Conservancy has hosted hunts. The group claims shooting is necessary because the high deer population is having an adverse impact on flora and fauna in the preserve. Yet other methods exist for protecting sensitive areas from heavy browsing. For example, notes Priscilla Feral, president of Darien-based Friends of Animals, properly designed and constructed exclosure fencing can inconspicuously protect especially sensitive plants inside the preserve.

"The Nature Conservancy claims hunters can reduce the high number of deer in Devil's Den," said Feral. "Steve Patton and the government biologists who promote the yearly shoot must know, however, that violent population control schemes fail. Killing deer now only contributes to greater survivorship of fawns in the spring, and the usual result is a stimulation of the deer population to even higher numbers."

Feral adds, "The Nature Conservancy cites the high number of deer hit by cars in the region as an excuse to turn this violence into an annual event. But by stimulating a younger, less experienced population, these hunts may well increase the number of road accidents each autumn."

"When Steve Patton of Devil's Den tells us that the bodies of the deer will be donated to food pantries, that doesn't make this plan any more palatable," adds Feral. "Eating deer can pose serious risks to human health. The hunters are using one vulnerable group -- the poor -- as an excuse to harm another vulnerable group -- the deer. Then they get to show off the heads. These hunters aren't Connecticut's heroes. They are Connecticut's bullies."

Friends of Animals is an international animal advocacy organization with 200,000 members.

Comments

i certainly don't approve of this but i do of hunting in other areas that aren't areas where deer are supposed to be "safe"

San, Deer should be safe wherever they live. It is just as unconscionable to kill deer outside of a nature preserve as it is to kill them on one. Hunting is a form of violence no matter how, why or where it is done. Daniel Hammer,
Friends of Animals

Q. "How in the world can a preserve manager fence/protect a sufficient number of oak saplings to allow an oak forest to regenerate, especially considering the size of Devil's Den?" A. The Devil's Den preserve had been off-limits to hunters for 35 years. The deer were blamed for loss of vegetation without a valid study showing a relationship between the deer population and a loss of certain vegetation. There are many reasons why plants die off,and there are numerous options for protecting specific species of plants during their most vulnerable periods to reduce the overall impact of browsing. Deer-proof exclosure fencing can protect certain areas among the 1,746 acres at Devil's Den. The world's weathiest environmental organization can certainly afford that. Q. "Although hunting is very controversial, humans have messed things up so much (taken wolves and mountain lions out of the landscape, feeding deer artificially, rampant development) that sometimes we have to allow what we may not appreciate." A. In other words, continue a spiral of destruction? Surely asking questions about how to stop the spiral would be appropriate here? When, otherwise, would that destroying end? After we ruin everyone in the biocommunity save ourselves? Perhaps this rampant development has to stop. Recall the Native American warning about the last fish being caught, the last stream being polluted, and only then humans understanding that we cannot eat money. Q. "We must remember that deer have evolved as a prey species, and humans evolved as a hunter/gatherer. It is natural to consume meat, and by consuming deer, we are not supporting the cattle industry which harms an extraordinary number of species and plants (including rainforests) worldwide." A. Modern anthrolopologists have shown that we have evolved primarily as a gathering species. Hunting takes up a great deal more energy. Were it natural for humans to consume meat, we'd not be cooking it in order to digest it. We'd run out and sink our teeth into some animal the way a carnivore does. The vast majority of us would find that that does not come naturally to us. The question is not whether we ought to hunt or buy from the butcher. There is another possibility, and that's a healthful diet based on grains, beans, corn, and the great variety of herbs and spices nature provides. Q. "Friends of Animals will not convince hunters to become vegetarians, so by discouraging hunting, you are promoting the cattle industry and therefore harming wolves, grizzlies, etc." A. Basically, the argument for hunting is that it is essentially free-range meat, that the butcher offers a more destructive way to consume flesh. And the next part of the argument is that hunters won't become vegetarians. Most of us who are moderating this blog once obtained food from the butcher and fast-food joint (which is the "worst" way, environmentally) -- and yet we made a commitment to be vegetarians. Anyone can make the same decision. It is not the case that a person with a gun or a bow or a fishing pole will never put it down. Some soldiers, some hunters, and some anglers decide to look at the world, and the other beings in it, with new eyes. So could you. Lee Hall
Friends of Animals

To all- This is yet another example of how the human race has to dominate any and everything it can, including killing any and everything! I live backed up to 65 acres of wooded perserve (thank God) . I have been there for over a year and can count the number of deer in that time I have seen on one hand. This is a lame excuse for dominating another species that share this earth with everything else to be executed by the human race. In my opinion there are to many humans!

I also was shocked when I read this article. However, I am shocked by the baseless accusations that one can make while the people who read it blindly believe. Friends, when we read anything, we have to remember to question what others say, and if it sounds foolish, it most likely is. How in the world can a preserve manager fence/protect a sufficient number of oak saplings to allow an oak forest to regenerate, especially considering the size of Devil's Den? Impossible. Although hunting is very controversial, humans have messed things up so much (taken wolves and mountain lions out of the landscape, feeding deer artificially, rampant development) that sometimes we have to allow what we may not appreciate. We must remember that deer have evolved as a prey species, and humans evolved as a hunter/gatherer. It is natural to consume meat, and by consuming deer, we are not supporting the cattle industry which harms an extraordinary number of species and plants (including rainforests) worldwide. To put it bluntly, Friends of Animals will not convince hunters to become vegetarians, so by discouraging hunting, you are promoting the cattle industry and therefore harming wolves, grizzlies, etc. People, please rethink your stance.

Please save the poor and innocent animals. Put yourself in their shoes for one minute.

Why dont we look at the other side of the story, and not necessarily follow this persons one sided view? Hunters spend more money on conservation than animal rights groups. The reason they spend so much money isnt to benefit only themselves as most of you might think. Do you like to see animals in the wild in their natural habitat? Hunters do as well. Lets put our trust in our government. They study wildlife for a living, and they know what is best. The harvesting of a certain number of bucks will not lead to more fawns. if you take 15 bucks out of a certain area, thats 15 less bucks that will mate with does, meaning less fawns the following year.

I cant agree more, The nature concervancies continued efforts to purchase more land and enroll those additional properties in management practices that are intended to promote sustainable wildlife and flora populations on those properties is simply a foolish waste of money. They should instead, focus on spending the millions of dollars it would take to fence off, these properties from surrounding areas, properly designed and constructed exclosure fencing can inconspicuously protect especially sensitive plants inside the preserve. The idea of trying to equally manage both wildlife and plants... clueless, for the betterment of our world we must sacrifice one or the other!

Scott's idea above about putting one's trust in government shows that he knows one thing with certainty: government bureaucrats are deceitful apologists for hunters. As a result, hunters'have a stranglehold on wildlife policies in all U.S. states. One of the strategies hunters use to inflate their importance is to invent social benefits to excuse their killings, and the violence they enjoy. That charade is most vivid in their deer flesh peddling programs for local homeless shelters, and in their exploitative schemes using garden club members as hunting proponents. (Horrors, the deer ate my azaelas). The number of hunters in the U.S. has been in serious, steady decline. This obsessive, vocal minority represents only 6 percent of the population as a whole, yet there's hardly a politician seeking re-election who hasn't boasted about the recreational pursuit of pumping bullets into free-living animals. Hunting animals is a tradition we must challenge and outgrow. Tell hunters to grow up, post your land against hunting, and don't send a dime to any phony nature group that caters to hunters. Priscilla Feral Friends of Animals

I think this shows that hunters value neither the deer, or the people they expect to eat a carcas that they wouldn't eat themselves. This is totally without conscience.

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