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CASH Courier > 2004 Fall / Winter Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

NEITHER QUALITY NOR QUANTITY DEER HUNTING!

Peter Muller of Wildlife Watch addressed the Ulster County legislature to urge them to oppose a memorializing resolution proposed by the Sportsmen’s Association of Ulster County, NY asking the legislature to petition the NYS DEC to endorse quality deer management in Ulster County.

This would normally have been expected to pass unopposed, however six of the 30 legislators were swayed to vote against the resolution.

The main points of the argument against the resolution are: the DEC should not manage deer populations to accommodate hunters at all. There are other “stakeholders” who are impacted by wildlife management for hunting. Ecosystems are impacting by management for hunting and the deer themselves.

The talk given at the legislature is as follows:

“The proposed memorializing resolution, which supports the three-year pilot program for deer management offered by the Bureau of Wildlife (BOW) of the DEC, should be scrutinized before committing the county’s support for it. The program, as other BOW programs, furthers the agenda of a tiny minority of its residents at a monstrous cost to the rest of the residents of the county. Instead of acquiescing to continue to manage wildlife for the benefit of hunters, we should demand that BOW manage wildlife populations for biodiversity of the eco-system. This would insure a healthy and robust eco-system instead of one that is precariously teetering on the verge of collapse because of the undue emphasis on managing for an abundance of a huntable species.

The memorializing resolution has built into it several premises that should be scrutinized further before assenting to them.

The major flaw is the embedded assumption that wildlife should be managed to accommodate the inclination of hunters rather than farmers, orchard growers, the citizenry that enjoys non-consumptive appreciation of wildlife, or – most importantly-- for the benefit of the ecological system and the wildlife itself.

Hunters constitute less than 5% percent of the population of the State of New York – yet BOW “manages” wildlife for their benefit with total disregard for the demands of the other over 95% of the population.

Let’s look at some specifics in the proposed memorializing resolution:

1) The most fundamental and basic flaw of the proposed resolution is the first premise:

“WHEREAS, deer populations in New York State are currently overabundant in many areas and hunting is the only effective tool for controlling deer numbers on a landscape scale...”

The first point to observe is that is wildlife management for the benefit of hunters, as practiced by BOW for the last 70 years, is precisely what has gotten us into to this quandary. The policy of BOW has been to consistently manage deer herds in New York State for maximum sustainable yield. This management policy has bloated the population to its present level where it has become socially unacceptable by many stake-holders other than hunters.

Hunting has been totally ineffective as a population control measure. After seventy years of management to accommodate hunters the deer herds are at historically high levels. The scientific reasons for the bloat of hunted herds vs. unhunted herds are detailed in an attached paper as supporting evidence. However it should be sufficient to observe that the deer populations are, in fact, at an all time high after being managed to accommodate hunters. The results are undeniable.

The switch to “quality” management -- attempting to temporarily reduce the population by stabilizing the gender ratio which has been mismanaged to a totally unnatural scale – is not likely to succeed due to the contiguity of deer herds. If there is a shortage of browse in one area and an abundance of browse in an adjoining area, the deer would migrate to the land of plenty just as surely as water would find its level in a pond.

To allow BOW (Bureau of Wildlife of the NYS DEC) - the source of the deer population problems - to attempt to accommodate a different set of hunters by regional quality deer management is like permitting the fox to guard the ducks after he ravaged the hen-house. In other words, if the agency could not accomplish its alleged goal of deer population reduction in 50 years, it’s time to get rid of them.

The fundamental question I would ask of all legislators in the state is: Should we continue to support The Bureau of Wildlife that is known to have destroyed the natural biodiversity of the wildlife of New York State in order to accommodate hunters and only hunters? Should we allow them to continue to employ various wildlife management schemes that continue to serve the hunting community at the expense of everyone else?

2) The proposed memorializing resolution further expresses the vain hope that change in management “could substantially increase deer hunter participation and satisfaction.”

Hunting has decreased nationwide by about 35% since the 1980’s. The reason is probably to be found in the sociological change in the society as a whole. The US population today is better educated, more urbanized, and more progressive than it was in the 1980’s. Hunting has commenced its relentless, march toward the dustbin of history where it will reside alongside slavery and witch-buring, and other glad-to-see-go practices. There is no change in wildlife management that will stem the sociological forces at work here.

We ask the Ulster County Legislature to endorse management for the benefit of all stakeholders in wildlife. These stakeholders include farmers, hikers, birders, and the general population that enjoys the great outdoors without feeling a perverse compulsion to destroy it – and most of all the wildlife population and the ecological system itself. Let’s pass a memorializing resolution that asks that BOW re-think its wildlife management goals. Let’s endorse a mandate to manage for biodiversity – instead of for a mono-crop of hunted species at an unacceptable cost to us all.”

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