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Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Hunting is no answer to deer overpopulation

Published Saturday, 12/08/01 in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

To the Editor:

Re: "Too many deer, not enough hunters" by J. Michael Kelly, The Post-Standard, November 22:

Is an increase in hunting necessary to manage the deer population in Central New York? Not at all. Overhunting has caused deer to overpopulate the State in the first place, and only a reduction in hunting can solve the problem.

Dozens of state game management and university studies show that deer instinctively regulate their pregnancy rates based on the forest food supply. When competition for food is normal, a mature doe may bring one fawn into the world. But if the does are very well fed -- as when hunters drastically reduce the population -- the surviving females will produce many more deer than the forest can feed. They will have twin fawns, or will become mothers at age one instead of the normal age of two, which results in an overpopulation problem the following year.

This is a well known phenomenon in Department of Environmental Conservation and hunting circles. "In fact," explained New Mexico Fish and Game Director Wayne Evans, "hunting maximizes fawn production. . . .

More animals are produced for the gun." ... And for our gardens and roadways.

The best solution to the problem calls for a reduction in deer hunting in New York state. By issuing half the number of licenses next year, we would reduce the herd to its self-sustaining forest level and end the dangerous cycle of deer overpopulation in Central New York once and for all.

Rob English



The Evans quote is cited in The American Hunting Myth by Ron Baker, Vantage Press 1985, "No one will ever be so rash to claim that if there is no hunting, the population will grow to infinity or sink to extinction. In fact, hunting maximizes fawn production. . . . More animals are produced for the gun."

-New Mexico Fish and Game Director Wayne Evans, PhD, in a letter dated July 26, 1978

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