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Deer Lady of Cheektowaga and the DEC

Wildlife Watch: Free the Deer Lady, save the deer

Wildlife Watch, Inc.
PO Box 562, New Paltz, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 845-622-7999 Email: [email protected]

Date: For Immediate Release, June 11, 2004
Re: The Deer Lady
Contact: James Van Alstine (845) 594-2528

Wildlife Watch: Free the Deer Lady, save the deer

Anita Depczynski, lately famous in Western New York as the Deer Lady is confronting the possibility of jail time as a result of erratic policy and enforcement by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Moved by compassion and fondness for deer, Anita has defied a DEC ban on feeding deer. The DEC is entrusted with the welfare of wildlife throughout the state, yet beyond animals who may be hunted it frequently shows a lack of interest in wildlife. The deer whom Anita and other park neighbors have befriended are a stunning example of DEC disinterest in non-target animals.

For 30 years the DEC, in spite of the agency’s responsibility for wildlife, never saw fit to concern itself with the deer. Suddenly faced with the looming specter of Ms Depczynski, the DEC rushes to save the deer from the Deer Lady. The DEC was negligent in its inaction and capricious in its action. Ms Depczynski should not be punished for the whims of the DEC.

The DEC enforced rule under which Anita has been prosecuted is ill crafted and poorly founded. While the law purports to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, it ignores much of the best science in the field while clinging to a flat-earth theory that the cause may be viral. As a result of this backward thinking, Anita’s harmless practice of feeding grain and fruit to the deer is deemed risky while the far more suspect possibility of CWD spread through tainted feeds used by venison farms, game farms and roadside zoos remains legal. Were the DEC serious about halting CWD the venison factory farms and game farms would be shut down and Anita would be free to go.

The DEC is well aware that game farms are popular, profitable tourist attractions and venison factory farms are lucrative niche marketers in the animals for slaughter industry. A few folks with bits of apples or corn for their deer friends are not an economic power or a political special interest to be reckoned with. So the DEC quietly lets deer exploiters and killers off the hook while prosecuting Anita with her little red wagon.

Meanwhile, the deer of Stiglmeier Park are the innocent victims of DEC neglect and unchecked sprawl. Wildlife Watch, as an advocate for the deer, urges the compassionate citizens of Cheektowaga to insist that the town develop a humane, sustainable and comprehensive plan to accommodate the deer. Wildlife Watch is willing to advise the town or concerned citizen groups on how best to compassionately live with deer.

Free Anita. Spare the deer. Shame on the DEC.

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