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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

Letters

Letters re 'Time to cull deer'

Two ADOW members had letters published in THE JOURNAL NEWS regarding an article entitled "TIME TO CULL THE DEER." ADOW received a letter of criticism which appears here; our response is below it.  The original article is at the bottom:

Not our prerogative to hunt animals

(Original publication: October 13, 2005)

As your Earth Watch column stated, "Maybe we need to look at what some consider barbarism toward the animal world in a new light to foster a better ecological balance." It is unfortunate that the human race insists on imposing its view of the world on other species. Yes, deer graze in people's gardens. Since when are deer aware of property borders? "Property" and the owning of land is something created by humans. Native American tribes were unfamiliar with the concept when the settlers imposed the idea on them, and, furthermore, Native American culture is known for its respect of the earth and all its beings. Native Americans did not use hunting primarily as a sport. Hunting was traditionally for survival.

The very idea that any species other than human is one of lesser intelligence and that we should therefore have control over their population growth is valid indication that we should not expect them to play by our rules. Regardless of how much of a "nuisance" or an "ecological hazard" people think deer, woodchucks, rabbits, geese and any other wild animal are, it should not be our prerogative to hunt them. We, as humans, are intelligent enough that we should practice patience and kindness and understand that not all beings will cater to our ideals.

If you wish to keep deer off your property, use your human intelligence and keep your deer fences up and use the sprays. When we resort to guns and traps, we are disrespecting nature.

Alison Pierce, Ossining

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Column displayed pro-hunting bias

(Original publication: October 13, 2005)

First, columnist Greg Clary's "pity ploy" to get readers to hate the deer population is pathetic: An Eastchester man had his motorcycle in a state park when the poor thing hit a mean old deer — and now the motorcyclist has nightmares and headaches. Of course there's no mention of the deer, which was probably butchered by this man's recreational foray. Well, what does one expect when taking a fast, loud machine into a natural habitat where animals live in peace? Lesson: Don't do it.

Second, Clary manages to find a Hastings-on-Hudson psychologist, nonetheless, who doesn't "do" fences, and doesn't "do" repellent sprays because they're too much trouble, but has taken to shooting deer with a rifle. Here's someone I'd want to turn to in my darkest hour.

Third, Clary asserts — with unconvincing and one-sided statistics — that shooting deer is the "best way" to cull their numbers. What about immunocontraception vaccines? The Humane Society is conducting research on, and has had success in reducing deer populations on Fire Island and in Maryland with, porcine zona pellucida, a drug that is shot by dart into an animal, and uses the animal's immune system to prevent pregnancy. PZP has also been used to control wild horse populations, with water buffalo in California, and is even administered to elephants in some African natural parks.

In addition, hunting as been used for many years as a "solution" to the deer population "problem," in many parts of the United States, and still has not proven effective — hence, meaningless articles like this one every year.

Allison L Solin, White Plains  

The writer is a member of Animal Defenders of Westchester

RESPONSE FROM CARMEN:

I just finished reading a response in the Journal News written by one of your members. I have to say that it was the most ridiculous, hypocritical thing I have ever read. Ms. Solin maligned a person for riding a "fast, loud machine into a natural habitat." Does she have a car? Has she ever driven it where deer inhabit? If she hit one would she be a "butcher?"

She also states that rather then hunting with rifles (which isn't even legal in Westchester County) deer should be shot with the drug PZP. First of all, isn't she worried about the pain that would cause the deer? Every time I have received a vaccination it has hurt. Isn't she concerned about any pain or discomfort this may cause the deer? Let's also talk about the cost of this. Is Ms. Solin a multi-millionaire? Will she be paying for the whole undertaking personally? If not, why should Westchester County residents be burdened with such an expense? Perhaps Ms. Solin has no financial responsibilities, but the rest of us do.

Lastly, hunting has proven to be the only effective way to manage the deer herd. Even with all the deer that are harvested each year in New York State, countless thousands die due to deer/car collisions and starvation. I'm sure that Ms. Solin wouldn't want to see 100,000 deer die a slow painful death each year due to starvation, would she? She is aware also that no matter what you eat, some animal somewhere died so that you could eat it. Last year, 50 million groundhogs were poisoned to protect the potato crop. I hope Ms. Solin doesn't any potatoes with her tofu. I also hope that she doesn't wear any leather, own anything made out of wood, or take any prescription medications. Remind her that animals of all shapes and sizes were killed, displaced, or subjected to testing to bring all of those items to market.

Carmine

OUR REPLY:

Dear Carmine,

ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER has been around for three years now; we are a small group of dedicated volunteers doing really good work in the Westchester and surrounding areas.  How sad that after all this time the only thing we get from you is a hate letter.

The gentleman in the article was riding a motorcycle in a state park, i.e. THEIR home, the deer's home. Yes, a natural habitat.  He hits one while on his motorcycle, which he might have left home - several venues ban these types of 'vehicles' in parks - and now the deer should be killed.  And for this you try to insinuate that Allison is guilty of something?

Your examples about potatoes, wood, etc left out some points: what about plants?  Don't they feel pain?  We've heard it all, you invented nothing.  The way I see it, at least we're doing something for other beings.  What do you do beside kill 'em?  I know, you're 'conservationists.'  Right.  

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you are a meat eater; let me inform you what YOU'RE contributing to with your meat diet:

- Modern intensive farming contributes to environmental degradation. there are towns in the south that can't drink their own water;  towns where the air is fetid and unbreathable. Animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population - 86,600 pounds per second.  

- Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all the water used in the US.  It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.

- Raising animals for food requires more than one-third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the US.  Producing a single hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 mi. and enough water for 17 showers.  

- Of all agricultural land in the US, 87 percent is used to raise animals for food.  Twenty times more land is required to feed a meat-eater than to feed a pur vegetarian.

- You are contributing to skyrocketing health care insurance costs; burgeoning heart disease, diabetes and cancer rates drive up the cost of health insurance; all are statistically less likely to occur with a vegetarian diet.

- Additionally: Your meat diet contributes to what is arguably the worst disaster for animals in this century.  Modern farm animals never EVER see the sun, are shoved in stalls together so tightly they can't even turn around; their children are stolen from them at birth -and yes, they cry for their children the same way humans do (we'd be happy to show you films of this); chickens lay in their own filth and are starved to produce yet more eggs, finally being killed while still conscious (unless they're KFC chickens, which are stomped and thrown against walls before slaughter, did you see the video on NBC?) Cows terrible lives end being hoisted upside down by one leg and having their throats cut while their friends watch, knowing it's going to happen to them (for video go to Peta.org or Farmsanctuary.org) - 9 billion sentient, terrified animals who feel pain, fear and joy JUST LIKE YOU DO are slaughtered for your bit of flesh.  And you point the finger at us?

And finally, you bemoan the cost of sterilization programs as opposed to killing: I'm gonna go out on the same limb again and assume you voted for George Bush, who is a hunter and supports most of your theories.  Well, because you voted for Bush we're ALL contributing to the cost of an bloody, illegal, unjustified war - isn't the cost of that war up to ONE BILLION DOLLARS per week now? - and you complain about the FAR SMALLER cost of some kindness to animals?  Well, if you can direct most of my paycheck to Halliburton, I certainly have the right to request a FAR SMALLER portion of it go to the animals.  (By the way, it costs THOUSANDS to bring in the 'culling' people - do you think they do it for free?)

One more thing:  I think you, and the deer, would both choose the 'pain' of injection over being killed.  Just a hunch.  

If you'd ever like to learn how to help, please feel free to contact us.

ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER

---- Begin Included Message ----

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Earth Watch: Time to cull deer
By GREG CLARY
gclary@thejournalnews.com 

THE JOURNAL NEWS

About Earth Watch

Today is the debut of Earth Watch, a weekly column on environmental issues facing the Lower Hudson Valley.

(Original publication: October 7, 2005)

Gary Fetzer used to appreciate deer. That was before the headaches and the nightmares.

Fetzer, a 50-year-old fundraiser from Eastchester, was riding a motorcycle on a dirt road in one of the region's state parks when he ran smack into a medium-sized buck that darted into his path.

The motocross hobbyist couldn't avoid the collision and hasn't been able to avoid the ringing in his ears since, despite having a helmet on at the time.

"Can you imagine having a bad dream about deer," Fetzer said. "Every time I think about them now, I get a headache."

With $10,000 in medical bills, a totaled motorcycle and two lost minutes while he was unconscious, Fetzer's no longer a fan of the suburban grazers.

He's hardly in the minority in the Lower Hudson Valley, where the four-legged beauties have gone through gardens like a mammalian version of locusts, chewing up flowers, vegetables and the patience of homeowners.

"I actually don't like them; they're a problem," said Catalina Danis, a 53-year-old psychologist from Hastings-on-Hudson, as she browsed deer-proof plantings at Rosedale Nurseries in Hawthorne this week. "And I don't want to go through a whole lot to keep them out. I won't do the sprays and I won't do the fencing."

Despite concerns among her neighbors about the prevalence of Lyme disease a tick-borne illness Danis also hasn't taken to hunting, which wildlife experts across the country say is really the most effective way now to maintain healthy deer populations.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation estimates there are between 750,000 and 1.25 million deer in the New York. In 2002, when the state believed the number of deer reached the top of that range, hunters were allowed more kills to curb herd growth.

Counting deer is hardly an exact science, said Gerry Barnhart, the DEC's division director for fish, wildlife and marine resources. The best measure is the number of deer killed by hunters, because that figure is collected every season.

Since the deer population's peak three years ago, the numbers have declined somewhat, based on the hunting statistics. But DEC officials and those who make sure our drinking water is clean want to see stepped up efforts to control the animals' growth.

The issue isn't just about collisions between deers and vehicles, or the wreckage in gardens caused by deer foraging for food.

When deer proliferate, forests don't. One of the things deer like to eat are tree seedlings. You can't grow healthy forests without trees. Whoever heard of a forest of shrubs?

The concern isn't only aesthetic.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains the drinking water system for 9 million customers in the city and Westchester and Putnam counties, is opening more of its 120,000 acres to hunting when the season begins Oct. 15 to try to cull the deer herds that experts say have the potential to transmit disease through their digestive system to the reservoirs that hold and filter our water.

The best, and least expensive, filtration system is abundant land with trees large enough to naturally control erosion around reservoirs. Wildlife experts say if deer are allowed to eat tree seedlings in the watershed without control, it's just a matter of time until our water will have to be filtered by machines at a significant cost to the public.

A 10-year study out of the U.S. Forest Service's Northeast region showed the effects of deer overpopulation after wildlife experts in Pennsylvania fenced off square-mile areas and let 10, 20, 40 and 80 deer live in their natural pens. Because the animals normally don't range outside of a 1-square mile area anyway, the experts weren't creating any hardship for the animals or an ecosystem that was foreign to them.

The results showed that nature itself doesn't abide too many of a species in one place the 80 deer in the most densely populated area winnowed themselves down to 64 because they ran out of food.

The higher deer densities also wiped out natural re-foresting, even to the extent that ground-nesting species of birds had their habitats eaten and moved on to better nesting places.

The question, then, for those of us who appreciate the beauty of a majestic buck, or a fawn on its first legs, comes down to whether we realize the extent to which too much of a good thing can actually be harmful, whether our nature-loving sensibilities run to deer or to trees and birds.

It's not an either-or question ultimately, unless one side of the equation grows out of proportion, but what's the right number?

We wouldn't want to eliminate deer altogether, would we? The Bambi-lover in all of us wouldn't allow it, but maybe we need to look at what some consider barbarism toward the animal world in a new light to foster a better ecological balance.
 


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