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CASH Courier > 2004 Fall / Winter Issue

Selected Articles from our newsletter

The C.A.S.H. Courier

BUFFALO, NY BAIT AND SHOOT

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 deer.

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 early December.

The point raised here can probably be applied to other areas where “bait and shoot” is proposed as a solution to perceived deer overpopulation.

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 capacity,

How has the social carrying capacity been established? Was there a poll taken? Was there a public meeting at which a consensus was reached?

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 all?

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 conflicts:

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 not wanted.

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 vaccine.

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.”

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