A recent excellent article by Timothy Frod outlined the idea of bringing a consultant for the Humane Society of the United States into the city to solve the urban deer problem. I can’t believe Sandy Baker, aka “Deer Doctor” He has no solution to the problem.
First, I tried to look up her professional qualifications and found nothing. Dozens of universities award Ph.D. Degrees and master’s degrees in various aspects of deer management, and it seems she didn’t get one of them. In other words, as a citywide deer management expert, she appears to be uncredited. If the city wishes to bring in overseas experience, many qualified professionals with extensive degrees and experience are available.
Second, in the cases in which Baker consulted, they offer little other than what any representative on the council could find using a simple internet search. What do deer like to eat? What do they avoid? What kind of fence provides an effective barrier? This information is worth knowing, but it is also important to understand that while some individual homeowners will benefit from renovating their landscapes, others will not. Many parks and other types of undeveloped properties and buffer zones will continue to provide ample food and significant cover. Most of the deer-friendly city’s habitat will not change significantly.
Third, Baker cannot offer any solution to the larger problem, one I wrote about in the Jamestown Gazette in October. Many people think that deer are in the city because their space has been invaded by humans, but this is not the case. Ten years ago, we had far fewer deer inside the city and there was a time when no deer lived in the city. They have moved and multiplied because many of them now live out of town. Deer are a very prolific breeder, so any effort to put up with the number of deer now living in the city will result in more deer. This means that “Humanitarian” The solution is not humane.
Fourth, it is inhumane to force deer to live in a habitat that does not fit their status as large wild animals without predators. Deer are not considered rabbits that are under the control of foxes. They are not a squirrel preyed upon by hawks and house cats. But like rabbits and chipmunks, deer are predators. This is an indisputable fact, and all predators need predators. In some habitats, wolves, mountain lions, bears, and humans are primary predators of deer. In western New York, man is the only primary predator of deer, and when man cannot play his part, deer will suffer.
Right now, we have a growing problem across the country. Chronic wasting disease (CWD), the transmissible deer spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) disease of deer, spreads slowly and surely, and when it infects deer in a densely populated environment, it spreads more rapidly and destroys them. Is it humane to allow deer to be so overpopulated that this or other disease takes a heavy toll?
When deer are overcrowded, malnutrition becomes a problem as well. Deer fail to reach normal growth. Contrary to what many believe, it is not nice or humane for deer – or any wildlife – to allow overpopulation.
Moreover, a lot of deer are destroying the habitats of other wildlife. Do you enjoy songbirds? Deer will exterminate native plants, even to the point of destroying the songbird’s nesting habitat. No wild animal species live in a vacuum, and certainly not those beautiful brown-eyed girls and their adorable spotted offspring. Deer cannot be allowed to overcrowd the habitat, whether rural or urban.
Solon, Ohio, a city similar in size to Jamestown, also has a very large number of deer and uses the services of a baker. A little sleuthing on the internet shows that Solon’s problem has not been resolved.
Becker and her backers are well-meaning, but her expertise lies in one narrow aspect of this problem. She can help individual homeowners with individual problems, but as an overall solution, her approach and that of the organization she consults is not good for deer.
Wildlife in America is managed by state agencies. In New York, the state’s DEC is better equipped to manage deer than the Humane Society of the United States or any of its advisors. Jamestown should put pressure on DEC to help resolve this issue. It is in the interest of the DEC to do so, otherwise any non-poaching or anti-hunting organization would be in a position to usurp its power.
I urge Jamestown City Council to consult real wildlife professionals, use wildlife management tools, and hunters in and out of town, to solve this problem. Urban deer are no more special than rural deer, and they must be controlled in the same way.
Steve Sorensen is a nationally recognized award-winning outsider writer, field contributor to Deer & Deer Hunting magazine, and lives in Russell, Pennsylvania.
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