Animal Rights Group Fights Deer Hunting
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Animal Rights Group Fights Deer Hunting

FROM Chris Eberhart, The Rye City Review
June 18, 2015

A local animal defense group is looking to protect deer from hunters by threatening to take legal action against Rye, Mamaroneck, Westchester County and the state if they move ahead with a bow hunting or firearm hunting program in an effort to curtail the local deer population.

Last month, Delice Seligman, attorney of the Kingston-based law firm Seligman and Seligman, who is representing the Animal Defenders of Westchester, filed a “notice of dangerous condition” against Mamaroneck and Rye mayors Norman Rosenblum and Joe Sack, both Republicans, along with state and county officials. Seligman said they’ll seek a restraining order if the hunting plan continues.

According to the notice, hunting in Mamaroneck or Rye “may cause serious injuries to the general public as a result of impaling, goring, shooting or death, along with emotional and psychological distress to the public and other risks including the possibility of increased deer/car collisions resulting from frightened deer running into the road way.”

Laura Simon, a wildlife ecologist for the Urban Wildlife Program, said bow and arrow isn’t a quick-kill method, therefore there’s a high crippling rate, and when people see an arrow-struck deer in their yard, that can be traumatic for children.

The notice comes four months after Rye hosted a February deer summit in Rye City Hall that included Sack, Rosenblum, the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Westchester County Conservation, Parks and Recreation Department, which conducted a preliminary count of the area and said there were 74 deer in a quarter of a square mile in the Greenhaven section of Rye and the Jay Estate property on Boston Post Road.

During the summit, John Baker, director of the county Conservation, Parks and Recreation Department and head of the county’s deer management program, said the county will likely launch a deer hunting program in the Rye Marshlands, which is owned by the county, during the next hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

Kiley Blackman, founder of the Animal Defenders of Westchester, called Westchester County’s plan to hunt deer in the Rye Marshlands “a reckless course of action.”

“The appropriate concern has been raised about public safety, to the close proximity of homes and generally crowded areas, but was quickly and arrogantly dismissed by the Westchester bow hunters,” Blackman said, “despite the fact that bow hunting is notoriously inaccurate.”

Some of the inaccuracies of the bow and arrow, Blackman said, can lead wounded deer leaving blood trails throughout the neighborhood or dying on residents’ lawns.

Sack said he was never served with anything. He said he respects the opinions of the animal rights activists, but “people come first.”

“For those of us who actually live in Rye and the Sound Shore area, deer overpopulation is a real and serious issue,” Sack said. “Our ecosystems are being eaten down to the nub, and that’s bad for all other animal species. We’ve got herds of deer squeezed into postage stamp-sized plots, which wasn’t the case just a few years ago.”

Sack said if you add that to the threat to human life with the spread of Lyme disease and deer leaping in front of cars, then there’s a real public health situation.

Rosenblum said the notice serves as “an attempt to intimidate.”

“Under no circumstances will we be intimidated,” Rosenblum said. “We’ve received just as many concerns from people who are asking us to do something about the overpopulation. We’re not trying to kill Bambi; we are trying to deal with encroaching wildlife.”

But Simon backed Blackman’s claims of the ineffectiveness of hunting because of the deer’s ability to adapt. Simon said, killing them “is an exercise in futility.”

“Their numbers will keep bouncing back up,” Simon said. “They’re amazingly adaptive. They’ll produce more fawns and breed at an earlier age after their numbers are reduced. So the cull is continually repeated at much expense and to no avail.”

Simon said she sees the same pattern in many communities: deer are killed each year, their numbers bounce back and the complaints continue. “It’s a vicious cycle,” she added.

On the other hand, non-lethal methods, such as fertility control options like surgical sterilization or immuno-contraception, prevent deer from having fawns to cut the bounce-back numbers, according to Simon.

“It’s true that fertility control options are more expensive, yet the pay-off is a population that slowly declines,” she said.

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WESTCHESTER4GEESE is an adjunct of ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER. We advocate against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation, including hunting, experimentation, fur, circuses and rodeos -