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CASH Courier > 1999 Fall / 2000 Winter Issue

Selected Articles from our newsletter

The C.A.S.H. Courier
From the Fall 1999 /  Winter 2000 Issue

What You Should Know
About Deer Management

By Stuart Chaifetz

The Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife (Fish and Game) is a state agency that is part of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The salaries of Fish and Game employees are paid for by the sale of hunting licenses, and they must sell more than $11,000,000 worth of licenses just to cover their salaries and benefits. This creates a conflict of interest, as the state agency that should be protecting wild animals profits from their death.

HUNTING INCREASES DEER POPULATIONS

When a large number of deer are removed from a herd through hunting, competition for food, water, space and breeding opportunities is reduced. The herd reacts to the sudden kill with increased breeding, and, with plenty of food to go around, more females become pregnant, and twin and triplet births often occur.

In their 1990 report, "An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey," Fish and Game offered a detailed example of this process. It says: "One of the most dramatic examples of the effect of habitat improvement or food availability on reproductive capacity occurred in the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot in Monmouth County. Range conditions improved in this case by an annual removal of deer by hunting.

Between 1968 and 1973 the reproductive rate almost doubled, an indication that the herd was in much healthier condition. The estimated fawn crop in 1969 was 116 fawns produced by 122 females, a reproductive rate of 0.95 fawns per doe, compared to 1974 when 78 does produced 133 fawns, or 1.70 fawns per doe." (Burke et al. 1975).

Fish and Game's report shows that even during hunting seasons in which killing female deer was the objective, the remaining females had increased birthrates that not only replaced the ones killed, but increased the overall size of the herd.

EXAMPLE: MONMOUTH BATTLEFIELD STATE PARK

In 1990, Fish and Game pushed through an annual deer hunt at Monmouth Battlefield State Park. They said that this was to be a "deer reduction hunt," and that hunting was the only way to reduce the size of the deer herd. After nearly a decade, and the slaughter of 600 deer, hunting has completely and utterly failed to reduce the deer herd.

Before hunting was implemented at the park, Fish and Game stated that the population was 200. Other estimates showed the population was even lower, at 150. On March 28, 1998, Fish and Game performed an aerial deer census of the park. 254 deer were counted, a 27% increase since the hunts had been initiated.

EXAMPLE: LEWIS MORRIS COUNTY PARK

The Morris County Park Commission is using the Washington Valley Area to compare the size of the deer herd in the years before and after the Lewis Morris Park hunts. In 1997, an aerial survey counted 363 deer. In 1998, after more than 200 deer had been slaughtered, the count was 502, a 38% rise in the deer population since the hunts had been initiated.

The Park Commission's own documents also reveal a rise in birth rates after the implementation of hunting. In their 1997-98 report on the hunt, their data showed that the percentage of pregnant females rose 7.4% after the first year of hunting.

One participant in the Lewis Morris County Park deer hunt revealed the true nature of the hunts. His reason for killing deer? "I came for the pleasure," he said. (Daily Record, Nov. 20, 1997).

EXAMPLE: PRINCETON

Princeton has had annual bowhunting seasons for decades, but in 1991 they reinstituted a shotgun hunting season, claiming it would reduce the deer population. From 1991 to 1997, 1,052 deer were killed. Before the shotgun season began, it was stated that the deer population was at 800. After a thousand deer were killed in just 7 years, the stated size of the deer population for 1998 was 1,200, a 50% rise in the size of the deer population.

EXAMPLE: GREAT SWAMP WILDLIFE REFUGE

In 1974, a hunt was initiated at the Great Swamp Refuge to "reduce the deer herd." Hunters have killed more than 4,000 deer at Great Swamp, and yet the deer herd is larger than ever. When asked has hunting stimulated or made a healthier population, William Koch, Manager of the Great Swamp Refuge, replied, "We have healthier animals, and they have healthier reproduction." There have been more than 25 years of hunting at the refuge, and no reduction in the size of the deer herd.

GAME AGENCIES USE FEAR TO WIN PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR HUNTING
Lyme Disease:

There are those who know the power of fear, and prey upon it to further their own agenda. This is the sad reality of what has happened with the issue of Lyme disease. The truth is that deer are not the cause of this disease, and killing them will not make anyone safer. Lyme disease is a reason to be watchful for ticks on your body, not a reason to kill deer.

At the Aug. 5, 1993 Assembly Environment Committee, James Blumenstock, Director of New Jersey Consumer Health Services, spoke about Lyme disease. The following is a basic summary of his main points:

There is no significant relationship between deer management, specifically population control efforts, and the level of deer ticks and the incidence of Lyme disease for the following reasons:

1. Nymphs (a stage of the tick), which are responsible for most of the cases, get their blood meals on the white-footed mouse, not the deer.

2. Adult ticks will adapt if you reduce or remove deer from the area; they will seek alternative hosts.

Another important fact about Lyme disease comes from an article in Consumers Reports: "Killing deer has been suggested as a way to attack Lyme disease. But experts say such action is premature and dangerous. Deprived of their usual hosts, infected adult ticks become a more immediate nuisance, as happened when deer on an island off Massachusetts were virtually exterminated. Wandering ticks threatened the populace as they searched for new hosts." (Consumers Reports, June 1988)

If the slaughter of nearly every deer made matters worse, then using hunting to reduce the occurrence of Lyme disease is unwise and dangerous.

CAR/DEER COLLISIONS

Hunting, far from being a deterrent for collisions, is in fact a cause of them. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, most car/deer collisions happen during hunting season. It is not difficult to understand why hunting in the woods would send deer out onto the roads, in a panic.

The relationship between hunting and car/deer collisions was pointed out by the co-owner of M&S Removal, a state contractor that removes deer carcasses from roadways: "Many deer run onto roadways this time of year because 'hunters are scaring them out of the woods.' "(Asbury Park Press, Dec 14, 1997)

In an article relating a serious car/deer collision, which occurred on the opening day of the 1998 shotgun hunting season, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said "the presence of hunters in the woods puts animals, including deer and bear, on the run and often causes them to leave wooded areas." (Trenton Times, Dec. 8, 1998) A proven way to reduce the number of car/deer collisions is by the use of roadside reflectors. These devices create a barrier when light from headlights bounce off them, keeping deer off the roads. One such device, Strieter-Lite, has been tested for years and has been proven to reduce car/deer collisions from 60% to 100%.

AN EXCUSE TO KILL ALLEGED PREDATORS

On the one hand, Fish and Game claims deer hunting is necessary because there are no natural predators, yet on the other, they distribute permits to kill the natural predators. New Jersey's coyotes, like deer, have been targeted for recreational killing. NJ has both hunting and trapping season for this natural predator. One of the reasons they are being killed is that many hunters see coyotes as competitors for deer. Coyotes' effectiveness as predators was stated by Robert Eisele, one of the top coyote hunters in NJ:

"Coyotes have been tearing up the deer population down here," Eisele said. "You hardly see any fawns anymore. They don't eradicate them all, but they keep the population in check." (Bergen Record, Feb. 16, 1999)

At the beginning of this century there were few if any deer in our state. Hunters and the Fish and Game agency at that time restocked and bred deer for the sole purpose that they should be killed for recreation.

More than a 1,000,000 deer have been killed since that time. Deer are not malicious, they are simply a species trying to survive in a world that we created for them. They are, and have been, victims of those who take recreation in killing, and those who profit from that recreation.

Contact STU CHAIFITZ at Honor and Non-Violence for Animals, 45 Davos Road, Brick NJ 08724, veganman@idt.net  "Each and every animal is a unique being that feels joy and pain, and suffers as we would when harmed. They are all worthy of our defense and compassion."


There is now a bill in the NJ State Legislature that will allow deer to be hunted on Sundays under certain conditions. This is another in a series of bills promoted by farmers to kill more deer.

The bill in the State Senate is S2114. Its companion in the State Assembly is A3539.

It is important that people contact their state legislators and voice their opposition to this bill. To find out who your NJ state representatives are, call --1-800-792-8630

The following is from the bill:

This bill would allow the hunting of deer on Sundays in any deer damage management zone established by the Fish and Game Council as authorized pursuant to the bill, provided that the municipality within which the deer damage management zone is located has adopted an ordinance approving the taking of deer on Sundays in that zone. Where a deer damage management zone lies within more than one municipality, any such approval by a municipality would apply to only that portion of the zone lying within the jurisdiction of the municipality.

The bill requires the Fish and Game Council, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and after soliciting public comment and conducting a public hearing, to determine annually which deer management zones in the State, as also designated by the council, include a substantial acreage of agricultural or horticultural crops or seeded pasture fields that are experiencing significant deer damage. These deer management zones would be designated as deer damage management zones for the purposes of the bill.


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Photo by Anne Muller/Kingston, NY

SICK & TIRED OF THESE DISGUSTING SCENES?
HAVE A HUNTING PROTEST!

Tired of the NYS DEC profiting from the killing of YOUR wildlife? Wildlife belongs (by law) to ALL the people of the state, yet the DEC hands precious animals over to hunters (4% of the population) and MANAGES "game" ANIMALS into high numbers for hunters to use as "targets." Why? Because they receive a portion of excise taxes on firearms and ammo, and bows and arrows, depending on the number of hunting licenses they sell. They also pay their own salaries with hunting license fees.

PATROL POSTED PROPERTY KEEP TRESPASSING HUNTERS OFF

ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO ARE "DEER-CAR COLLISIONS" TO BRING LAWSUITS AGAINST AGENCIES, ENCOURAGE INSURANCE COMPANIES TO PRESS FOR AN END TO HUNTING PUT AN AD LIKE THIS INTO YOUR LOCAL PAPER TO FIND YOUR FRIENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL C.A.S.H. - COMMITTEE TO ABOLISH SPORT HUNTING AND WE'LL PUT YOU IN TOUCH WITH ORGANIZATIONS IN YOUR AREA.

Return to Fall 1999 / Winter 2000 Issue

 
 

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