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Eight Days of Hell in Devil's Den

November 19, 2002 | Deer

DeerThis deer was killed during the Nature Conservancy hunt at Devil's Den Nature Preserve
Photograph by Bill Mannetti, Animal Rights Front

Darien, Connecticut — When is the largest natu re preserve in southwestern Connecticut, with 1,746 acres and 21 miles of trails, hell on earth?

The nation's wealthiest nature advocacy group, The Nature Conservancy, will transform Devil's Den Nature Preserve into a truly hellish scene on November 20, 21, 25, 26 and December 3, 4, 9, and 10. On those dates, the deer, who have become acclimated to peaceful hikers, will find themselves under armed attack — an exclusive trophy hunt organized by Nature Conservancy staff.

In a November 8, 2002 letter, Devil's Den director Stephen Patton asks Weston and Redding neighbors of the Nature Conservancy's Devil's Den Preserve to "respect (their) decision to close the preserve" during the eight day shoot of habituated deer.

"It's preposterous that The Nature Conservancy expects respect for acts of violence and disrespect for the deer that are part of nature in Devil's Den, and which many members of The Nature Conservancy cherish," says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.

"People read the brochures distributed to hikers and visitors and believe that hunting is prohibited. Devil's Den's Mission is "to introduce people to this protected sanctuary and increase their knowledge and appreciation of nature, —or so their membership brochure states."

"In truth," Feral says, "The Nature Conservancy is justifying an annual deer hunt for a private group of hunters with inflated estimates of deer density, scare tactics to blame deer for deer-auto collisions, and empty promises that wild flowers, saplings and landscape plantings will benefit from shooting deer."

Based on FoA's findings in a recent nationwide survey into the underlying causes of highway collisions between deer and automobiles, hunting causes many deer/auto collisions by panicking deer to run blindly in fear.

Connecticut reports 3,098 deer killed by autos for the year 2000. Nearly half of them (1,495) are compressed into October, November and December hunting season. Of the dead deer, the number of dead females exceed that of dead males by 37 percent — effectively invalidating the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) theory that the collisions are caused by testosterone-crazed bucks during the rut season.

"Patton and his apologists at the DEP refuse to acknowledge that conserving nature doesn't mean guns, acts of terror, and blood," Feral says. "Devil's Den should be seeking peaceful solutions to problems such as creating discrete zones within the preserve where deer-proof exclosure fencing can be set in place. Exclosures will be significantly more effective for plant protection than shooting deer," Feral adds.

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