Why Wildlife Management for Hunting Must Go
Muller, New Paltz, NY
May 19, 2012
In all my years of hearing hunters and pro-hunting advocates
provide fabricated reasons to kill deer, blaming deer for the decline
of bird populations stretches credulity to its limits. It is truly
The New York Times Op-Ed contributor, Prof. Cristol, was aware of
the problems with wildlife management for hunting purposes, but who
does he blame? The deer! Why is he blaming the victims?
Cristol touches on some of the disturbing practices of wildlife
management that intentionally create a large deer population, and
“outs” the real goal of wildlife management agencies: to increase
encounters between deer and hunters; but strangely, he then goes on to
blame the deer for being more abundant than he would like.
Prof. Cristol knows full well that wildlife management agencies
manipulate public and private lands to create overpopulations of “game
species” at the expense of the many other animals that share the
ecosystem. Shouldn’t we be putting the blame on the perpetrators of
what I would call a “crime against nature”? Should the answer be to
allow wildlife management agents to increase deer hunting? Or instead,
shouldn’t we demand a change in the policies and practices of wildlife
management? Why are we providing tax-payer support for agencies that
are destroying our environment, ecosystems, wildlife, and even harming
the economy? All of the energy and focus that go into providing a few
species for hunters to kill is taken from all other species that are
losing their homes and food sources. Those “other species” are 99% of
By failing to protect land for wildlife watching, a non-lethal form
of wildlife recreation, wildlife managers are losing an important
source of income and will continue to harm whole species, individual
animals, and the public.
Let’s look at some of the details of wildlife management practices.
Prof. Cristol pointed out that public lands are highly manipulated to
provide browse for deer at the expense of other wild animals. He also
stated that private landowners are encouraged to allow their lands to
be manipulated for the sake of growing high deer populations. He did
not say why: The reason is that the sale of firearms and ammunition,
and bows and arrows carry an excise tax that funds wildlife management
agencies. Consequently, wildlife management agencies manage wildlife
solely as targets for hunting rather than for peaceful, popular, and
lucrative wildlife watching.
What is not so obvious is that the guns and bullets that are used
to kill people in cities also provide revenue for wildlife management
agencies. The income is then used to creating more hunting. In other
words, our wildlife management agencies benefit from inner-city crime
committed with firearms. Shouldn’t that money at least be used to
compensate the victims or their families?
Another deplorable aspect of having wildlife agencies that promote
and manage for increased hunting opportunity is that of landowner
abuse. It’s one thing to “encourage” property owners to develop their
land for growing deer for hunting, and it’s quite another to try to
impose hunting on property owners who do not want hunters trespassing
on their land. The latter is happening all too frequently. Landowner
abuse by hunters backed by state and federal agencies is taking place
across the country.
In Pennsylvania, an attorney was charged with 5 counts of hunter
harassment for telling hunters to leave her property; in South
Carolina, a university administrator was charged with stealing a dog
collar that she had removed from a hunting dog in an effort to locate
the dog’s owner; in North Carolina, a mother and daughter were
harassed by hunters while the Forest Service changed map boundaries to
allow incursions onto their property; and in Michigan a teacher was
charged with hunter harassment for collecting firewood on her property
which allegedly disturbed a hunter.
These agencies basically serve only a small special interest group.
Hunters are less than 5% of the population. Sadly, if you enjoy
birding or other forms of wildlife watching, you are going to be very
disappointed by what the government offers. All too often “wildlife
watching areas” on public land are barren areas littered with garbage,
without interpretive signs; wild animals that have been spooked by
hunters are usually in hiding so that spotting them is an unfulfilled
My question is, why are we tolerating or suggesting even more
hunting/culling and other forms of lethal aggression against wildlife
when we need to take our anger out on the agencies and legislators who
have created the problems?
I agree with Prof. Cristol that wildlife management practices have
to change. I agree that it’s high time for wildlife watchers to have
full use of public lands managed for all species.
Where Prof. Cristol and I part ways is that he thinks the deer have
to go and we think that the current practices of wildlife management
for hunting have to go.
Anne Muller is President of Wildlife Watch.
New Paltz, NY