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Re: Deer

I have never been a fan of hunting for pleasure - my brother (who
hunts) and I have had many heated arguments about this over the
years.  Hunting for sustenance is another matter, but I do not
believe (despite arguments to the contrary) that people living in the
eastern part of the US need to hunt to survive.

However, where the white tailed deer are concerned, I've come to
believe that *controlled* hunts are the only way to reduce herd sizes
- at least the most humane way.  

Watching a deer starve over an extended period of time (and it takes
quite a while for starvation to kill them), is not a pleasant sight
and, if I were a deer, I'd prefer a quick death to that.  Hard years
leave my local herd with ribs showing and signs of other diseases
that have attacked them due to malnutrition...I've watched this for
quite a number of years.  When wildlife get sick, they generally die
and not quickly or painlessly, either.

White tail deer do not migrate.  They stay in a relatively small
range in the immediate vicinity of where they were born.  When herds
become overpopulated (which they are throughout much of the US), they
eat everything within their territory - they are totally denuding our
forests of understory forbs and preventing the regrowth of tree
saplings because they keep munching them down.  I've read several
essays about the adverse affect they are having on native wildflower
populations (Trillium, for example). 

When everything edible is gone, they starve; they won't migrate in
search of food.  It's no wonder that they find suburban areas a good
habitat as we gardeners keep planting plants that are very attractive
to them and help sustain (and even encourage) herd size.  When they
munch it to death, we go out and buy a replacement for them:-)  

(I wonder if there is some nefarious deal between large scale
wholesale growers and deer to keep us buying plants?) ;->

Deer have no natural predators in much of their range.  Although
wolves and cougars are not a threat, deer keep reproducing as though
they were still in danger of extinction - most does have twins each
year, which, when large predators were around, helped ensure the
existence of the species, but now just adds to the problem.  About
the only predator they have left is man - either in the form of
hunting or via the automobile.  Deer are constantly getting hit
around here - drive the "back" roads around newly developing areas
and there are bodies by the side of the road all the time.  The auto
method of deer control is not only hard on the deer, it also costs a
lot in vehicle repair and often manages to reduce the human
population at the same time (not that this is, intrinsically, a bad

Studies are ongoing on this problem, but it appears that trying to
administer birth control drugs in any of the ways tried so far is not
being effective.  Relocation does not work, either.  Deer panic when
caught and confined to trucks or other vehicles and break legs,
etc...besides, there aren't any places to relocate them - the
population explosion has pretty well occupied every habitat that is
suitable for them in the first place.

So, _very reluctantly_, I've come to the conclusion that the only way
to keep the populations under any control is to hunt them.  I think
that controlled hunts, using only proven, experienced hunters are the
way to do this. 

I don't think just extending deer season for all the yahoos out
there, many of whom can't tell a horse or cow (or dog or other human)
from a deer, is what should happen!  IMO, it's not a "pleasure
activity" but more akin to the historical handling of herds of
domestic animals (cattle, sheep, chickens, etc.) raised for food.  

We moderns may choose to be oblivious to how we get our hamburger,
but controlled slaughtering of animals a fact of life and has been
since time immemorial.   Not a pleasant thought, but a fact and
that's how we ought to regard dealing with the overpopulation of deer
(boy..if this doesn't start a brouhaha.....)

I used to think that the resulting meat ought to be either sold to
raise money for public park maintenance or given to the poor.  But,
it appears that there's a disease, similar to mad cow disease, that
is getting fairly prevalent in wild herds, so I doubt that would work
too well.  

Oh, well, sorry to go on like this, but when I see the word 'deer' in
a thread it sets me off and the word 'hunting' just pushed my bell:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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> From: Kitty Morrissy <kmrsy@earthlink.net>
> Zem,
> I eat meat.  However, I have never understood the allure of
hunting.  I
> cannot grasp the thrill of the chase.  What is so great about
> something down and destroying its life?
> Kitty
> Last winter I had to kick my oldest and dearest friend out of my
house when
> she showed up with, not one, but 4 fur coats to show off to our
group of
> friends who were gathering at my house that night.  And she KNEW
how I felt
> about it.

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