Hunting has increased deer population, not reduced it
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Hunting has increased deer population, not reduced it

September 2, 2010


It is very difficult to grasp the logic of the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance working closely with the state Department of Environmental Protection. The FCMDMA's mission is to reduce deer populations to 10-12 per square mile. But it must be aware that the DEP's "deer management" plan doesn't include lowering deer numbers permanently, because it would result in fewer hunting opportunities for its clients, and less revenue from selling hunting licenses! One of the DEP's policies set forth in the 1974 Deer Management Act is, "to allow for a sustained yield of deer for use by Connecticut hunters."

No one complained about deer before 1974; they were killed by farmers to protect crops, mostly in the rural northwestern corner of the state. In fact, prior to the DEP's involvement in "deer management," there were fewer deer in the entire state than there are in most towns today. The purpose of the Deer Management Act was to create hunting opportunities for everyone by establishing zones, hunting seasons, license fees, and bag limits to maximize birth rates in order to raise deer numbers in the whole state.

Current game management practices are designed to artificially propagate selected game species for hunters.

A text titled "Wildlife Ecology and Management" by William Robinson states quite clearly: "The general theory of harvesting animals is based on the premise that when animals are not harvested at all, growth and recruitment are balanced by natural mortality and that the average growth rate of a population at its carrying capacity is zero. Harvesting reduces the population size, but the reduction results in an increase in the growth rate of the population. This increase in growth rate is brought about because of higher birth rates and lower death rates resulting from decreased competition for resources. This increased growth rate provides a surplus of individuals above the number required to replace the population, and this surplus can be harvested."

Hunting only lowers deer numbers on a temporary basis. A study by Richter & Labisky, "Reproductive Dynamics and Disjunct White-tailed Deer Herds in Florida," in The Journal of Wildlife Management, determined that the "incidence of twinning was 38% on hunted herds and 14% on nonhunted sites."

Hunting serves no purpose other than to provide hunters with game, the DEP with funding, and residents with a feeling that "something" is being done about deer numbers, while ensuring that those numbers will replenish by the next hunting season, ad infinitum. That's why, according to the FCMDMA, even after a concerted effort of killing deer for so many years, populations have not decreased. Their solution would be to hire sharpshooters who are more efficient than recreational hunters, erroneously citing Harvard's Andrew Spielman as supporting a 10-12 deer population per square mile, claiming that Lyme disease would be eliminated.

According to "The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in A World Out of Balance": "Harvard's Andy Spielman showed, however, that getting rid of deer in a region didn't eliminate Lyme disease."

In fact: "Eradication ... is not achievable for any vector-borne infection," S.R. Telford, in "Ecology and environmental management of Lyme disease." 

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