Articles and Media CoverageUse fences, not bullets, to rid Teatown land of deer
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Use fences, not bullets, to rid Teatown land of deer

By David Bernheim,
January 2014

Re “Teatown reservation plans sharpshooters to kill up to 75 deer,” Jan. 8 article:

Deer are beautiful gentle animals. Teatown Lake Reservation in Yorktown has decided to conduct a rifle fire deer slaughter to kill 75 deer. Fawns are to be killed as well as their mothers. Teatown proposes to lure deer onto its property by laying down bait, a practice which legitimate hunters condemn as unethical. The shooting will occur at night, by riflemen using night vision goggles.

Some of the deer will be shot dead. Others will likely suffer excruciating wounds. Bellowing in agony, they would flee their tormentors, wind up on up on the lawns of homes in the vicinity of Teatown where they could suffer slow death. Impressionable children could be exposed to these horrific sights.

Bullets fired by rifles have a range in excess of three miles; could this endanger Teatown’s neighbors and their children?

Teatown obtained a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation to kill 75 deer based on rather misleading statements. Teatown’s application states that “Studies at Teatown have shown that our deer herd is approximately 70 deer per square mile ...” According to its DEC permit application, it appears that, contrary to the usual practice, Teatown didn’t count deer on its property. Estimates appear to be derived from counting pellets (feces) left by deer, a method that can overstate the number of deer because individual deer deposit multiple feces. The statement that there are 70 deer per square mile on Teatown’s property looks to be a wild exaggeration.

One individual who has been walking on Teatown’s trails for 35 years has signed a sworn affidavit that the number of deer in Teatown is small.

Moreover, deer slaughters are not an effective method of reducing deer population. Qualified wildlife experts agree that rifle fire “culls” do not reduce the deer population because of a “rebound effect.”

The deer population increases after a slaughter because the cull results in more food being available to the surviving deer. As a result, the females become more fertile, giving birth to twins and triplets.

Anti-deer fencing

Teatown could have fenced in its property with anti-deer fencing that has proven to be effective in excluding deer. Indeed, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, Ph.D., a professor of botany and the director of the Botanical Gardens at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has signed a sworn affidavit that since anti-deer fending was installed he had not seen a single deer inside the gardens. He stated that he considers the fencing to be a completely successful solution to their deer problem. Other leading nature preserves have successfully fenced deer out of their preserve, or used fencing to protect sensitive areas within their preserves.

Teatown admits that it has chosen not to fence. It acknowledges that the deer scheduled for annihilation are deer from the neighborhood that wander in and out of Teatown. Teatown acknowledged in a written statement that after the slaughter, other deer, living outside Teatown, could wander into Teatown, replacing the deer that have been killed.

In addition to fencing, immunocontraception is a scientifically accepted method of permanently reducing deer populations. Indeed, Hastings-on-Hudson recently adopted an immunocontraception program to reduce its deer population.

Teatown has abandoned its mission of protecting wildlife. It has issued misleading information to a governmental agency. It proposes to engage in animal cruelty. It is endangering its neighbors. It is baiting deer, some of which have no nexus with Teatown, to wander into Teatown’s kill zones. It has failed to consult with neighboring property owners. It has disseminated incorrect biological information.

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