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Issue Date: September 2011

Buck Shot

As deer fill up backyards and roadsides, Northeast Ohio once again wrestles with a dilemma: to shoot or not to shoot.
Marsha McGregor

We never saw what hit us, even in broad daylight.

Something slammed into our left front fender. "What was that?!" my husband and I both yelled. He jammed on the brakes.

Then we saw the deer. It stumbled to its feet and staggered off busy state Route 91 into someone's front yard, heading toward an open field.

Some part of us limped away with that beautiful animal on that day four years ago. We felt diminished.

This afternoon, driving in Hudson with my teenaged daughter, I saw a doe lying twisted on the shoulder of Stow Road, a turkey buzzard plucking at its carcass.

We shuddered. As often as we witness this kind of scene, we cannot get used to it. Nor should we.

Eight deer are struck by vehicles in an average month in Hudson. Those are just reported collisions. Last year alone, Hudson police officers were summoned to end the misery of 31 injured deer with a bullet to the brain.

Living on 3 acres bordered by woods, I welcome and expect to accommodate some wildlife. If I once stood in awe at the sight of deer, these days I scold a small herd of whitetails away from my deck, waving a dish towel like Granny shooing varmints from the Beverly Hillbillies' cee-ment pond.

The deer lounge in the yard like shift workers on coffee breaks. They gaze with insouciance from their raid on the bird feeders or look up, mid-chew, from the few pitiful perennials that remain.

Clearly, Hudson has too many deer. So last year, town officials reintroduced a discussion about deer management strategies. They included the possibilities of allowing controlled bowhunting or hiring sharpshooters to thin herds.

Lethal weapons in the woods my husband and daughter roam with the dog? No way, I thought. There has to be a better solution.

Towns throughout Northeast Ohio are confronting the same issues. Summit County saw 575 reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2009, which ranked it third among Ohio's 88 counties. Cuyahoga County placed 15th at 419 crashes.

The first question of deer control is, shoot or don't shoot?

Solon employed professional sharpshooters for four years to thin its herds. It was costly at $345 to $570 per deer, but it dramatically reduced deer-vehicle accidents in the city from 165 in 2004 to 64 in 2010.

Results aside, Solon council members may feel as if they've pinned targets to their chests. An initiative headed for the town's ballot this November, organized by a vocal national activist group, calls for a total repeal of Solon's culling ordinance.

Nearby, Bentleyville and Hunting Valley have achieved significant drops in deer-vehicle collisions and landscape damage with controlled bowhunting programs. They've extended limited permits to qualified hunters with very little cost to city budgets, no safety incidents and few resident complaints.

Hunters aren't released willy-nilly into the woods. The best of these programs require hunters to shoot on privately owned properties of 5 or more acres from elevated tree stands and release their arrows toward the ground. They undergo background checks and an archery proficiency test. Police can refuse anyone a permit at their discretion. Permits must accompany written permission from property owners. Neighbors are informed of hunting days well in advance.

Many of the deer are processed and donated to area food banks. This past spring, thanks to a hunter's donation, I helped serve a tasty venison sausage stew to more than 200 people at an Akron soup kitchen. It was a welcome protein boost for folks who often rely on the cheap but empty calories of starchy foods.

No one seems to love the idea of lethal deer culling inside town limits. A hunter assured me there are plenty of better hunting environments. Towns have turned to sharpshooting and bowhunting as a last resort when nonlethal methods failed to reduce deer-vehicle collisions for the long term. Lower speed limits, more signage, deer-resistant plants, repellents and bans on feeding deer seem to merely dent the problem.

Fencing long stretches of city-owned property is impractical, costly and simply moves herds around. Feeding the animals in so-called contained "deer parks" actually increases their numbers.

Opponents to lethal culling insist that a product called Streiter-Lites, which reflect headlight beams into deer's eyes, are proven deterrents. Yet many communities have tried and abandoned them as ineffective over time.

Cleveland Metroparks rangers began shooting deer to cull herds in 1999.

"We can't let the deer literally eat the other animals out of house and home," says Jane Christyson, the Metroparks' director of marketing. "Humans made the problem. Humans have to fix the problem."

The Metroparks spent nearly half a million dollars over five years experimenting with a contraceptive vaccine but concluded it was not effective enough and it was difficult to deliver to free-ranging herds in large numbers.

Nonsense, says Lane Ferrante, Ohio state director of the League of Humane Voters. Her organization is largely responsible for this November's "Solon Deer Preservation Act" — the ballot initiative against lethal deer culling in Solon — and an initiative that repealed Broadview Heights' culling ordinance last year. She thinks Ohio should pursue deer birth-control methods and calls Cleveland Metroparks' concern about over-browsed vegetation threatening other wildlife habitats "a bunch of propaganda."

Ferrante doesn't believe there's an overpopulation problem. At the same time, she insists that deer culling results in a "rebound effect" that actually increases herd sizes. Statistics from Cleveland Metroparks and local towns using culling methods do not bear that out.

Ferrante is passionate. But her rhetoric, and that of her organization, is so strident, it seems designed to block all avenues of reasonable dialogue.

"Urban hunting is about backroom deals between hunters and the Department of Wildlife aided by legislators," says Ferrante.

A guest blog post on the league's website goes further: "It's not such a long way from culling deer to invading countries."

Huh? Forget puzzling through that gigantic leap of logic. Once someone hurls a bomb like that, it's all over but the shouting. Yet sometimes shouting gets results. Ferrante's group was Broadview Heights Mayor Samuel Alai's worst nightmare.

"They ran a great campaign; I'll hand it to them," Alai says. "They scared the daylights out of everybody. ... They made people think children would get shot and lots of bad things would happen in Broadview Heights."

Alai believes lethal culling is the only way to stem the burgeoning deer population, especially in communities close to national park land. "But the voters spoke, so we are in a quandary," he says. He fears uncontrolled deer herds will breed disease and escalate property and vehicle damage.

Hudson officials have ruled out sharpshooting because of the high cost. They're leaning toward adopting a bowhunting program. I'd support that measure with a clear conscience.

Abundant evidence suggests that with rigorous safety measures and careful oversight, thinning herds with bowhunting is effective, economical, ecologically prudent — and ultimately humane.

Any responsible hunter will tell you it's no small thing to take a creature's life. Far better to harvest deer to feed the hungry than to allow them to suffer slow, miserable deaths on our roads.

Thursday, September 01, 2011 9:54:03 AM by Anonymous
I believe that eithical and legal bow hunting would be a great way to help thin the deer heard. As a hunter I never release an arrow that I am not confident of a good shot and a quick humane kill.
Friday, September 02, 2011 5:36:20 PM by Lucy McKernan
Less than 2 percent Ohio's hunted deer get donated to the hungry and three other states have recently banned it due to NO TESTING.

No media source yet has had the guts (will this publisher?) to publish the truth that Solon's "comprehensive deer management program" WILL and most certainly WILL incorporate "captive net and bolt." Designed specifically and SOLELy for use on cows in slaughterhouses, and not on prey animals that thrash around when caught in nets, the stunning bot repeatedly hits unintended parts of the deer, such as eyes, throat, etc., before hitting the brain and even cows in factory farms feel this pain and thrash around.

Don't believe the crud er, the very eloquent, very well-written, very crafty article here. Deer numbers rebounding is well-documented in every state. Even the Ohio Division of Wild"Death" admits to keeping a high number of live targets and that's because MOST OF THE OHIO DOW REVENUE COMES FROM HUNTING!

Hunting in urban/suburban areas makes about as much sense as having another Civil War. There were actually less men killed in all four years of the Civil War (620,000) than deer are killed each year across America. Millions of deer die when hit by vehicles less than 200 people die when involved in deer-vehicle accidents.

Shouldn't our dialogue be more about keeping drunk drivers and text messagers off the road?

At least the writer had the sense to consider the sentient beings she witnessed dead and suffering in the beginning of the article. I almost thought someone was actually coming to their senses, but my heart ped when I read the rest. Just more intelligent spin. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Writer of this article, did you ever consider that the League of Humane Voters of Ohio, including its leader Lane Ferrante, might know something you don't?
Saturday, September 03, 2011 3:28:34 PM by Bach
Ms. McGregor assures us that bowhunting is humane. That statement in itself is ludicrous and I'm sure she will be getting plenty of feedback . In fact , that statement negates any other point she was trying to make in this poorly written oped.
Monday, September 05, 2011 4:16:48 PM by Anne
The following website should be disseminated far and wide:
Erie Insurance company was one of the few companies to actually study car-deer collisions and found that they hunting exacerbated their occurences.
Why do folks only look at the results and not causes.
If you take the time to realize that whatever damage you feel you are suffering as a result of deer, the population is CAUSED by the game agents who increase populations for hunting. Cut out hunting and your problem will disappear.
Thursday, September 08, 2011 11:59:51 AM by Anonymous
Bach sure has a way of twisting a study. This study by Erie in NO WAY mentions that hunting exacerbated occurences.

"Drivers should be extremely alert for deer while driving in November, which is peak mating season for deer and a time when a large number of deer claims occur."

In addition to the peak hours of collision are during non-daylight hours when HUNTING DOES NOT OCCUR.
Thursday, September 08, 2011 3:52:20 PM by Anonymous
Having eaten more than my share of venison (which is delicious), I agree with Ms. McGregor: I'd rather they be hunted and eaten than wind up on my windshield. Yes, they're beautiful animals and a picturesque addition to our semi-wooded backyards, but at the end of the day, they're wild animals. They're part of the food chain. And as such, they're fair game for a hunter's bow, just as they've always been since man invented more efficient ways to kill prey. To eat. To survive. Nature can be harsh like that. So, I don't apologize for not losing any sleep over the tragic loss of more deer than men in the Civil War. I just try to keep a rational perspective, eat my venison steak, and thank God for the food.
Friday, September 09, 2011 5:44:21 AM by Anonymous
have you of the instance where a child was injured by a deer that was running out of fear after an arrow was shot in its side??? not all bow hunters can have perfect shots at a moving deer ...
Friday, September 09, 2011 6:18:25 AM by Kit Parker
The first question here IS NOT to shoot or not shoot, not by a long, bad shot.

The first question is WHY the Ohio DNR isn't doing its job to manage hunting as the oh-so-effective population control our wildlife management institution (and sportsmen) claim it is.

Is it because there isn't enough hunters? No. It's because agencies are desperate and greedy and want more hunters to buy a tag, come to THEIR state next season...So hunting seasons are managed to CREATE high populations and our MIS-managed gun tax dollars have perpetuated this problem for too long.

The antiquated (1930's) Pittman-Robertson Act, stricting dictating in part that increasing tag sales to compete for more than $300 million a year of gun tax revenue drives too many states to promote hunting at ANY COST, yes, even auto collisions.

A DNR's hunting brochure has a goal to brag about "highest harvest rates". Hunters want easy killing, so excessive populations works like a charm to attract them.

The author almost makes a good argument but when anyone claims an arrow is capable of a "quick-kill", a reader should question all other statements. Bow-hunting should not even exist. The .22 was eliminated as an effective weapon to quick-kill a deer, but the bow&arrow is more humane? Not remotely more possible!

The hunters & hunting management industry need to clean up their act. They need to read and enforce their "code of ethics" upon themselves and each other. This can be found on NRA's page - NRA being a group that opposes ANY legislation that leans towards animal welfare & ethics, including Canned Hunting.

What's that you say? Hunters don't approve of canned hunting (or baiting, or using live animals as bait, etc)? Well then, they best begin to Prove it!! Where are all those "ethical hunters"? If they are so numerous, are they simply too gutless to stand up and defend their "honorable heritage" against their buddies?

Because the "heritage" of today's hunting is losing respect just as fast as the public is learning the reality behind "conservation management". We are all stakeholders in our wildlife and Alai is right, the voters are expecting their elected officials to stand up against a minority special-interest lobby. There is a new Lobby in town, and it has too much truth behind it to be ignored.
Saturday, September 10, 2011 9:04:15 AM by Thaddeus
Hunters control their pleasure in torture and killing. There is no such thing as humane murder. Take the same words the hunters are using and substitute a human child or yourself instead of deer and you get the picture.

Deer (or any animal) are not our underlings or things, they are not natural slaves, they are not objects to reinvent according to our moods. They are sentient beings who have a right to live and who need to be respected as our own lives.

When the human heart is not moved, there is no amount of reason that will touch them in mind or heart.

Exploitation is a manifestation of violence and murder is murder no matter who you murder. Is it less murder to kill a black man than a white man? Of course it isn't, but a few hundred years ago, that was not the case.

The question is why has society tolerated this sordid violence for so long.

Says Reverend Andrew Linzey, Both the pain of the hunted and the pleasure of the hunter should equally concern us morally. Both constitute an offence which is so grave and so deep that abolition is the only moral course open to us."

John Henry Newman, vicar of St. Mary's University Church in 1842 said,

"but there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it."

Violence against the defenseless is the worse kind of violence.

Stop taking away land from wild animals and start implementing birth control to people as well. Deer have natural rights to their lives AND their land.
Saturday, September 10, 2011 1:50:53 PM by Ruth Eisenbud
"The reason for killing
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side." Bob Dylan

The following is a response to the suggestion that deer must be hunted down to prevent their impact with motor vehicles:

Since there are so many deer, motor vehicle collisions, the solution seems obvious. It is the cars that are invading the natural habitat of the deer. Therefore motor vehicles should be re-directed away from deer territory. However the USA, being a Christian nation, rooted in the cruel religious doctrine of dominon, is unwilling to share nature with the animals who also call it home.

You undoubtedly will find this suggestion laughable, as that is the way by those who claim dominion over the animals:

"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish in the sea into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.'" Genesis 9:1-3

Any suggestion that animals are entitled to live out their lives free from harm meets with derision. You might be interested in knowing that it is against the law to cull any animal in India due to the broad-based compassionate and intelligently conceived Wild Life Preservation Act. Indians, whose mainstream religions of Hinduism and Jainism, have a more generous and respectful view, called ahimsa, of the sanctity of life than the violence of the judeo.christian view of animals.

As is the case with dominion a suitable excuse to kill and terrorize innocent creatures can always be easily manufactured:

"Many of the deer are processed and donated to area food banks. This past spring, thanks to a hunter's donation, I helped serve a tasty venison sausage stew to more than 200 people at an Akron soup kitchen. It was a welcome protein boost for folks who often rely on the cheap but empty calories of starchy foods." Cleveland magazine

In this case justifiable slaughter is claimed because it feeds the poor, who along with the wealthy would be more healthfully nourished with a vegan or vegetarian diet. But dominion being what it is, prefers the thrill of the hunt despite its innate cruelty, then seeks to ameliorate the cruelty by claiming if feeds the poor. Recently in India several wild elephants went on a rampage in Mysore. Due to the wisdom and compassion of ahimsa, the elephants were not harmed, but transferred from city limits back into the wild. There were no excuses made to justify the killing of the renegade elephants. Rather one official, acknowledged the problem was indeed created by man:

"One official blamed the rampage on human encroachment into areas traditionally inhabited by elephants. "Unregulated expansion of farm lands and increasing movement of people and vehicles through the elephant corridor are making the wild jumbos enter into villages and towns in search of food and shelter," he told AFP." bbc news (see appendix A)

Those who adhere to the premise that animals exist for the benefit of man, always fall back on the dominion sanctified option of slaughter, to solve any human/animal boundary disputes:

"Towns have turned to sharpshooting and bowhunting as a last resort when nonlethal methods failed to reduce deer-vehicle collisions for the long term. Lower speed limits, more signage, deer-resistant plants, repellents and bans on feeding deer seem to merely dent the problem." Cleveland magazine

Rather than kill harmless deer, consider the root of the problem: religious doctrine which sanctifies violence to animals for human error. A religious doctrine that is unable and unwilling to extend compassion to animals has resulted in unmitigated animal and human suffering, as it promotes the value that might makes right.


Ruth Eisenbud

"I have little regard for an individual's religion whose dog or cat are not the better for it." Abraham Lincoln

appendix A
Elephant rampage causes terror in Indian city

The three-hour rampage caused panic in the streets of Mysore

Two wild elephants have gone on a rampage in southern India, killing at least one person, officials say.
The elephants left a trail of destruction in a suburb of the city of Mysore, in the state of Karnataka.Officials say the animals walked into the city from a nearby forest, leaving residents running for their lives.Officials say that one elephant barged into a women's college compound and wandered the grounds, while the other wreaked havoc in a residential area.Forest rangers and officials from Mysore Zoo later tranquilised and captured the animals.Encroachment A 55-year-old man who left his house in the Bamboo Bazaar area of Mysore after hearing the commotion was trampled to death, Karnataka state Higher Education Minister SA Ramdas told AFP news agency.
The elephants are thought to have come from a nearby forest
Mr Ramdas said schools and colleges in the city were closed throughout Wednesday and extra police had been deployed as a precaution. State forest department officials said the young elephants came from forest about 35km (22 miles) from the city.They say that two other elephants remain at large on the outskirts of Mysore.One official blamed the rampage on human encroachment into areas traditionally inhabited by elephants. "Unregulated expansion of farm lands and increasing movement of people and vehicles through the elephant corridor are making the wild jumbos enter into villages and towns in search of food and shelter," he told AFP.Mr Ramdas said that the two captured elephants would be released back into the wild.
Sunday, September 11, 2011 9:51:19 AM by Tricia
First of all there is no humane death for deer or any other animal. When hunters thin the herd, the herd intuitively increase their numbers as self-preservation.
I have seen deer starve to death with an arrow though their necks, sides and one with an arrow through her mouth. Bow and arrow is one of the more sadistic cruelties invented by our ignorant and greedy species. Leave the deer alone and their numbers will decrease.
Sunday, September 11, 2011 4:33:47 PM by Gayle
Deer/auto accidents are minimal compared to auto accidents. Why are we not more concerned with getting drunk drivers, texting drivers, and drivers on cell phone off the road, instead of trying to massacre the entire deer population. There is a birth control pill for domestic animals and wildlilfe. That should certainly be tried first.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 8:56:49 AM by Lee
God & Religion is a sorry excuse for cruelty.

I am a Buddhist. We don't do such things. Shame on you Christians!

Thursday, September 15, 2011 6:31:16 PM by Serena
Why can`t we live together in harmony. Wild animals put up with so much because of people can`t we show just a little more compassion for them. The idea pf using arrows against deer belongs to the middle ages and should stay there. Bettter still has nobody heard of Deer birth control, it`s out there!
Saturday, September 17, 2011 11:58:31 AM by Lee
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." (Matthew 23:15 )

When people need to control animals or others, they usually got it backward. Those who are not reasonable or being rational are those who don't consider animals as sentient beingsthey become pests, those who cannot see that they have an interest in their lives that they don't exist for us. This is dishonest thinking & speech for me as a Buddhist. Those who are unreasonable are those who continue to fabricate non-huiman animals as things to use and manipulate public opinion toward the irrational. Non-human animals are sentient feeling beings that have an intrinsic value onto themselves for themselves. They are not targets, they are not pests, they are not things to re-invent and rename. Buddhism teaches not to disturb beingsto love each being as if they were your own child.

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