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Hunters, DEP, invent new justifications for killing

September 15, 2010 | Deer

Greenwich Time

Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

by Priscilla Feral

Each year, deer hunters get support for their violent hobby from Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection -- the agency that profits from hunter licensing and federal excise taxes on weapons and ammunition.

Nevertheless, and to the chagrin of the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, hunting is losing its appeal in our state -- mirroring a countrywide trend that has seen the hunting community wane for two or more decades.

Fewer than one percent of Connecticut residents hunt. According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 12.5 million U.S. residents purchased hunting licenses in 2006 -- a decline of 10 percent from 1996. In contrast, 71 million U.S. residents, or 31 percent, were counted as wildlife-watchers -- folks who observe and photograph birds and other free-living beings.

Without new generations becoming Nimrod's devotees, state agencies will be forced to talk about more than the interests of a minority who chase deer with bows and rifles. But officials are invested in careers of management and control. How will they keep encouraging the public interest in violently targeting deer?

As it happens, Nimrod appears not only as a hunter in the biblical story, but is also traditionally considered a leading builder of the Tower of Babel -- an edifice representing the confounding of everyone's speech. And the speech surrounding deerstalking promotions is becoming more confounded by the year.

Since it's no longer widely acceptable to call hunting recreation, hunters invent social benefits to excuse the rampages. We hear about the need to defend wildflowers from over-browsing. We hear about heading off collisions between automobiles and deer. We're told hunters feed the hungry. We hear that hunters protect our communities from Lyme disease.

The Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance recently released its "Economic Impact of Deer Overpopulation in Fairfield County," a report geared to soften resistance to deer killings on private property. The report empowers residents to blame deer for the above-mentioned perils. Officials can use the study to buttress costly notions that paying new fees to shoot deer will ensure public safety and save us all money on landscaping, medical costs, and auto-repair needs. But the data is derived from a 2003 survey of residents in Bernards Township, N.J., as an editorial on Sept. 3 in Greenwich Time and The Advocate pointed out.

If we're keeping score of overpopulation, let's begin with honesty and accuracy: We humans comprise the one species on Earth whose population is truly out of control -- overriding natural mechanisms that keep living populations in check. We fail to acknowledge how our reckless overdevelopment and penchant for procreation directly impacts and degrades our relationship with deer and other free-living animals, and how that diminishes us as a culture.

On top of that, hunting drives a phenomenon that's been tagged "evolution in reverse" -- making the smaller and weaker deer more likely to survive. And it can cause deer populations to increase in a cyclical reaction to us. The more you hunt, the more deer you get.

In contrast, nature itself works to balance deer herds according to available food, territory, the health of carnivorous animals, and winter weather, which restrict food and range. Numerous studies over the years have shown that limits to food and sheltering foliage causes animal populations to limit themselves; but it doesn't take scientific studies to make the point. Most people with common sense know this.

Deer do not cause Lyme disease. Black-legged ticks carry the disease when immature, on smaller mammals and birds. Our dogs can also carry the ticks (and wiping out deer would make the dogs even more attractive candidates for ticks). Vigilant checks for ticks on the body and prompt removal, especially in summer and early autumn, are important for preventing the disease.

Friends of Animals studied the matter of cars hitting deer. We found evidence that hunting exacerbates car accidents, as it can frighten deer out of their normal meanderings and into unfamiliar terrain and roadways. Of some 1.5 million reports of U.S. drivers hitting deer every year, about half of these accidents occur in October, November, and December. Hunters will attribute this to deer being sexually active, but these are the months when hunters themselves are active. The claim that hunting reduces car accidents is not solid, and we have prevention techniques that do work, such as reflectors combined with regular road maintenance and speed limit reductions.

Nature is being managed to death. It's time for communities to call for ceasefires, and reverse a trend that's bad for all of us -- humans and nonhumans alike.

Priscilla Feral is president of Darien-based Friends of Animals.

Comments

Hunting (also referred to as the thinning of the herd) serves only to preserve the sport of hunting itself and nothing else. The purpose of hunting is not to control the population of any particular species, nor is it to maintain an ecological niche. It's important to understand that if you are given the equation for 1. any restricted area (such as a park) with 2. fixed resources (namely a food supply) and 3. a herd population that is artificially controlled, you end up creating a "known" environment. When you reduce the size of the herd (through 'thinning' aka hunting) and all other factors remain the same, the members of the herd that remain will feed better, survive the winter, breed & as a result the herd as a whole will grow in number. If on the other hand nothing were to be done? In time the herd, with reduced & limited resources, would be forced to self-regulate its size: lower survival rates through winter, fewer births (self-abortions), and earlier deaths (disease, malnutrition, etc). But this process would of course negate the function and purpose of many hunting and state agencies.

I believe that if their(Coward Hunters) excuse to eliminate these poor animals is Overpopulation,,then why don't they practice Trap-Neuter Return...someone has to start doing something about it and Stop the Barbarism...

People blame Lyme disease on the deer, when as you say the ticks pass on Lyme disease.. BUT PEOPLE ALSO pick the ticks on their own by walking in the own back yards, and not taking care of their yards, allowing the grass to get overgrown or so dry the ticks thrive... There should be more emphasis on the laziness of people attracting ticks.

The stupidity of the general public is amazing! In an instant-gratification society, everything needs to be solved yesterday! Raising deer levels to what they are today cannot be solved instantly, nor has anyone the intention to do so. Why would the DEP cut off their noses to spite their faces? The FCMDMA can advocate the killing of deer all they want, and they will....but the DEP will only allow certain bag limits to ensure replacment of all killed deer in the form of twins/triplets next early summer - this is called the compensatory rebound effect, and they know it....while making people believe that they are actually working on lowering deer populations! Bah, humbug!

I am so glad that ope-eds like this have recently appeared in print in local newspapers - it's about time! People have indeed been dumbed-down in this country; they stopped thinking for themselves and prefer relying on lies and misconseptions as long as they aren't bothered with unpleasantness about animals! As long as they "don't know" about such uncalled for massacres of deer, they don't have to feel guilty about them. What a shame that there aren't more thinking people!

The so-called "Economic Impact" Report, commissioned by the Deer Alliance and other pro-hunt groups, may finally be the begining of the undoing of those groups themselves, because the desperation of their efforts to justify expansion of recreational hunting can be seen for what it is. The methodology of the "data" collection is absurdly flawed, and the resulting figures extrapolated from that "research" are so grossly exaggerated that laughter is inevitable. If there really were tens of millions of dollars of plants chewed up by deer (example: $13.6 million in Fairfield alone)-- supposedly every year-- every single year... there certainly wouldn't be any vancant stores in the mall, because they'd all be filled with nurseries. The public needs to ask close questions, about who is behind the drive to expand recreational hunting in Fairfield county, who the decision-makers are and how they influence the process, and who benefits when the blasting starts.

Who is behind wanting to expand recreational hunting? Both DEP and FCMDMA, but for different reasons - but the twain shall never meet! You need not look any further than the 1974 Deer Management Act! There were only about 3,000 deer in the whole state....hunted mostly as nuisance animals by farmers....by 1979, the DEP's wonderful deer "management" had already increased deer herds to over 21,000, and the rest is history! That's quite a hike in a mere 5-6 yrs. - seven-fold! That terribly flawed study from so many years ago, commissioned by the FCMDMA is a load of bovine excrement - so typical of using scare tactics by using $$$$, which they assumed would really catch people's attention - except there were at least some who saw right through it, including the Greenwich Time/Stamford Advocate editorial of 8/2. Better luck next time, dear pseudo-scientists of the FCMDMA!!!!

this i dont get, out of all this things this earth gives us, all the wonders and beauty and magnificent things we cant explain the only thing you can find to do with it is to kill the animals that are living peacefully, im not perfect, not even close to it, but im not a murder and any one who tells you hunting for fun isnt murder they're lyingto themselves, dont kill for fun or pleasure, hunt to live, dont live to hunt. peter age 14

The 1974 Deer Management Act was a brilliant plan - raise the number of deer in CT to an unmanageable (so they claim) number by design, to be enjoyed by all the Elmer Fudds, while making money from selling hunting licenses to pay the good ole boys' salaries, while they, too, enjoy spending their days hunting and pretending that it's work! Why isn't anyone asking why, after all the years of hunting, is there still a deer "problem"? DUH!

The CT DEP and the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance are actually at odds: The former wants to keep deer numbers at a high in order to satisfy hunters with a good and steady supply (the lazy bums don't want to waste their time in woods and backyards - they want to have a good pick!), and the latter wants to encourage everyone to allow killing deer on private and public land by demonizing everything about them! How can these two agencies work against one another, knowing full well that both would like to keep the status quo? Is this debate for real? Are people so stupid as not to see the truth about hunting?

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