Peter Muller on behalf of C.A.S.H., Wildlife Watch,
and the League of Humane Voters addressed the media in Buffalo, New
York to comment on the decision of the City of North Tonawanda and
the Town of Amherst to propose a “bait and shoot” programs in an
effort to control what some have perceived as an overabundance of
Peter, together with activists from the Buffalo area
-- including Jeffery Termini, of LOHV, Jennifer Manka, of Animal
Activists of Western New York and LOHV, Paul Goldsmith of Animal
Activists of Western New York, Randy Atlas President of Animal Activists
of Western New York, and Claire Jibb of LOHV-- stressed to local
media that the proposal was ineffective and brutal. They were joined
by one board member from each of the municipalities in condemning
the program. Many members of the community, not affiliated with any
Animal Rights group also spoke out including one hunter who roundly
condemned the proposed method.
After the media coverage two additional board members
from Tonawanda agreed to listen to a presentation that will present
alternative methods. That presentation will be offered to them in
The point raised here can probably be applied to other
areas where “bait and shoot” is proposed as a solution to perceived
The statement made to the media:
By going back to basics and asking the most naïve questions
we realize how unsound such a proposal is.
I suppose the first logical question would be: How
many deer are there?
The “City of North Tonawanda Deer Reduction Program
Summary” states: “The City of North Tonawanda has a whitetail deer
population that far exceeds the carrying capacity of the available
wooded habitat within the city boundaries.”
This doesn’t give us a number or any indication of
the methodology used to arrive at a reasonable accurate numbers.
The biological carrying capacity of a region is the
number of animals that the region can support. Clearly, the statement
is not referring to the biological carrying capacity. If the biological
capacity were exceeded then the deer population would start dwindling
precipitously – which is not what is happening.
Sometimes wildlife managers refer to what is called “social
carrying capacity” – which means the number of animals tolerated
by the human community. That is, of course, subjective and, in a
sense, an arbitrary number.
For someone who has a phobia of wildlife the social
carrying capacity is zero; for others who love to see wildlife, the
social carrying capacity may be the same as the biological carrying
How has the social carrying capacity been established?
Was there a poll taken? Was there a public meeting at which a consensus
It seems that we know neither the size of the current
deer herd nor the size of the herd we’re shooting for (pardon my
pun). When do we stop shooting? Or should we not start shooting at
Without knowing either where we’re starting from nor
where we want to go, the program doesn’t make sense.
We have no indication of how many written complaints
are on record at either municipality regarding the deer population.
12? 20? 100? What is the scope of the perceived problem? We are again
left clueless. The basic parameters within which the deer reduction
program is to occur are missing.
There are many non-lethal solutions to specific human-deer
Deer car collisions can be greatly reduced by the installation
of Strieter-Lite reflectors and lowering speeds in deer crossing
areas. Ornamental plants can be protected by sprays and fencing and
deer-proof plants can be used in landscaping lawns where deer are
We should also note that shooting out some of the deer
will not solve either of these problems. The surviving deer will
continue to eat attractive exotic decorative plants. Deer startled
by sudden bright lights approaching them at high speeds will continue
to be involved in deer-car collisions.
Deer reproductive biology is geared to respond to the
availability of browse. The more browse available to does the higher
the probability of pregnancy and multiple births. By shooting out
a part of the deer herd – we are increasing the browse available
to the surviving deer and thereby increasing their fertility. We
will wind up with a larger deer herd in the spring than we had before
the bait and shoot!
The proposed method does not address any of the perceived
problems – it may very well exacerbate them.
There are non-lethal deer reduction methods that are
cost-effective: immunocontraception has been used to reduce the size
of deer herds and other ungulates at a cost of $20 per dose for the
The notion of donating the carcasses from the operation
to “the poor” is another aspect that cries out for review and condemnation.
When the deer carcasses from a bait and shoot in Irondequoit in Monroe
County were offered to the Attica Prison – the prison insisted on
that all deer carcasses be inspected. Upon inspection all carcasses
were found to be unfit for human consumption and burned. Are we really
indifferent enough to feed “the poor” of our communities food which
is uninspected by the standards we require of our own food?
This program is solves no problems. We ask you to abandon
this program and work with experts in the area of non-lethal human-animal
conflict resolution to come up with a program that is effective,
cost-effective and humane.”