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Issues of Special Interest

Deer Lady of Cheektowaga and the DEC

Deer lady paid harsh price for her principled stand


Judge Ronald E. Kmiotek sentenced the "deer lady," Anita Depczynski, to 15 days in jail for the horrific crime of feeding deer. The residents of Cheektowaga are safe now that this menace has been removed from their midst.

In reality, Depczynski stood on principle and chose civil disobedience to challenge the forces of rampant sprawl and Department of Environmental

Conservation thuggery on behalf of the deer in Stiglmeier Park who have become stranded by development.

The fact that anyone could face jail time for scattering a bit of grain for the deer is shocking.

It demonstrates that the heavy hand of the DEC has struck too hard. Wildlife Watch believes that Depczynski's appeal will lift the ban.

The DEC claims the rule is in place to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, but feeding deer in the park posed no threat of spreading CWD. Conversely, venison farms, game farms, canned hunt facilities and roadside zoos are all exempt from the ban even though they pose a more considerable risk. The rule subverts the best science on CWD, and its selective enforcement targets only those who love wildlife.

Depczynski has shone a light on the threat to wildlife in our midst. Towns like Cheektowaga must begin to include the needs of wildlife and concern for habitat in community planning.

Jim Van Alstine

Assistant Director, Wildlife Watch

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