Wildlife Watch, Inc.
PO Box 562, New Paltz, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 845-622-7999 Email:
Date: For Immediate Release, June 16, 2004
Re: The Deer Lady
|Contact: James Van Alstine (845) 594-2528
Anita Depczynski, lately famous in Western New York as the
Deer Lady, was sentenced to 15 days in jail as a result of erratic policy
and selective enforcement by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Ms Depczynski chose to take a firm stand for her deer
friends and against unchecked development and a heavy-handed DEC regulation.
She declined community service or a fine and chose to stick to her
principles and do her time rather than yield to the DEC’s irrational deer
Within hours, Ms Depczynski was released pending appeal as
Judge Shirley Troutman found reasonable constitutional grounds to question
the DEC regulation. Ms Depczynski’s refusal of a fine or community service
and willingness to accept a jail sentence helps to force judicial scrutiny
of the DEC rule.
The DEC purports the feeding ban is in place to prevent
the spread of chronic wasting disease. As written, the ban is so broad that
people feeding birds or even home gardeners with compost piles could run
afoul of the DEC. Conversely, venison farms, game parks and roadside zoos
that pose far greater risk of introducing or spreading CWD are exempt from
the rule. Ms Depczynski’s case reveals DEC regulatory overreach, capricious
rule-making and enforcement, and a fundamental lack of scientific
understanding of CWD.
Throughout the trial and sentencing process, Judge Ronald
E. Kmiotek allowed the defense to enter very little regarding the DEC rule
its ill-conceived foundation. This lack of understanding was revealed in
court yesterday as Judge Kmiotek’s comments indicated a belief that CWD
could be casually spread from deer to children, as if it were bacterial. CWD,
like mad cow disease, is caused by a protein and would normally be
introduced through tainted commercial feeds (such as those used in cattle
ranching, venison farms and game parks). There is no CWD in New York and,
even if there were, the children of Cheektowaga would have to eat the deer
to risk contraction of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human version of CWD
or mad cow disease).
While it is shocking Ms Depczynski, or anyone, could go to
jail for tossing a bit of corn to some deer, the case provides opportunity
to overturn an ill-conceived DEC rule and shine a light on that agency’s
arrogant overreach and promulgation of flat-earth thinking. The deer of
Cheektowaga and Ms Depczynski are mere victims of DEC mismanagement and
rampant sprawl, but her courage may well serve to check these powerful
Free Anita. Spare the deer. Shame on the DEC.