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HUNTING IS USED AS A TOOL TO INTENTIONALLY INCREASE

DEER NUMBERS

From Marilyn Bensley:


A text titled Wildlife Ecology and Management by William Robinson states quite
clearly: "The general theory of harvesting animals is based on the premise that
when animals are not harvested at all, growth and recruitment are balanced by
natural mortality and that the average growth rate of a population at its carrying
capacity is zero. Harvesting reduces the population size, but the reduction results in
an increase in the growth rate of the population. This increase in growth rate is
brought about because of higher birth rates and lower death rates resulting from
decreased competition for resources. This increased growth rate provides a surplus
of individuals above the number required to replace the population, and this surplus
can be harvested."

*"The Olean (New York) Times-Herald of September 30, 1978, quoted


[NYS regional wildlife manager Terry] Moore as stating that in order to
increase the success rates of big game hunters, 'we will attempt to increase
the number of deer until we experience high incidences of deer-car
collisions, depredation of agricultural crops becomes
intolerable and/or the effects on deer habitat begin to result in
deterioration.' " (quoted in The American Hunting Myth_ by Ron Baker (Vantage
Press 1985).

*from the DEC’s (Department of Environmental Conservation in NY) “The


Conservationist”: “Ideally,..if the desired number of...deer are taken each year...a
maximum fawn crop will be produced each summer.” [Sept./Oct., 1976]

* “A quick surge in a deer population can occur if hunting is implemented where it


hasn’t been before. In any event, if hunting is started, it’ll have to continue.”
Former trapper --Thomas Eveland, Ph.D., “Why Killing Deer Makes Poor Park
Management,” public presentation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 15, 1998

*At the beginning of this century there were few if any deer in NJ. Fish and Game, in
their 1990 report, “An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey”, shows us clearly
how our current state wide situation with deer began:
“Deer were re-established in New Jersey by sportsmen-conservationists for the purpose
of sport hunting. Since that “restocking period” the responsible agency (now the
Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife) has been managing the deer resource for this
purpose.” (pg.7)
In “An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey,” Fish and Game offered a detailed
example of this process:
“One of the most dramatic examples of the effect of habitat improvement or food
availability on reproductive capacity occurred in the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot in
Monmouth County. Range conditions improved in this case by an annual removal of deer
by hunting. Between 1968 and 1973 the reproductive rate almost doubled, an indication
that the herd was in much healthier condition. The estimated fawn crop in 1969 was 116
fawns produced by 122 females, a reproductive rate of 0.95 fawns per doe, compared to
1974 when 78 does produced 133 fawns, or 1.70 fawns per doe” (Burke et al. 1975)

* “The most visible weakness in the assertion that hunting is necessary to control deer
populations is that it has largely failed to do so over the last two decades. … Just
because deer are being killed doesn’t mean that deer populations are being controlled.”
--Allen T. Rutberg, Ph.D., “The Science of Deer Management: An Animal Welfare
Perspective,” in The Science of Overabundance: Deer Ecology and Population
Management, William J. McShea, H. Brian Underwood, and John H. Rappole, eds.
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington & London, 1997.

*"The long-range objective of our deer management program in N.Y.S. has been to
provide the largest possible harvest of antlered deer compatible with land use and deer
herd health . ...."
"It ensures that deer will be in good physical condition and can grow and reproduce at
optimum rates." -
The Conservationist, N. Y. S. D. E. C.

*This increased productivity of a population is now well documented. The exploitation,


by reducing density, lessens competition and enhances productivity ....
- The Natural History of Deer - Rory Putnam

*SPORTS & LEISURE MAGAZINE July 2006, “Woods and Water,” by Tim
Wright. He writes: "With most deer populations being below management
goals, the number of deer management permits (DMP) will be reduced
significantly for this upcoming season, approximately 60 percent to about
49,000 permits. This will allow deer populations to start increasing
toward management goals."

The author then goes on about Quality Deer Management. He says "As deer
populations and success rates decrease, interest is rapidly growing in New
York in promoting an alternative deer harvest strategy known as Quality
Deer Management (QDM)."

*"New York State has rapidly seen its whitetail deer herd grow from modest thousands
to more than an estimated million animals today. Every county in the state has a good
population of deer, and many have too many. Management techniques by DEC have
changed from how to increase our herd to how to keep it under control and successfully
manage it for future sportsmen."
Bow Season Bounty by Craig Robbins, New York Sportsman, 9/2001

*"Some Accomplishments of Modern Wildlife Management."


White-tailed deer:
1895--less than 500,000; extirpated from more than half of its range in (the) U S.
and Canada.
1984--approximately 15 million in 45 states and 10 Canadian provinces.
"Placing Wildlife Management in Perspective," Wildlife Management Institute

By the late 1800's in New York State, the white-tailed deer had been virtually eliminated
due to over-exploitation and land use practices. Tighter hunting restrictions along with
reductions in the legal "harvest" were implemented to save the remaining deer.
In 1912, New York State. passed the "buck law" which restricted hunters to killing only
bucks. The remaining does were then free to reproduce at their maximum capacity due to
less competition for available resources, such as food. According to The Conservationist,
the primary objective of this law was to foster the greatest population growth by
protecting all fawns and adult females from hunting. This regulation contributed greatly
to the increase and spread of the deer population that took place in the state during the
next thirty years.

*"Game management is the art of making land produce sustained crops of wild game for
recreational use."
- Game Management, Aldo Leopold

*The frequently heard justification of managers that they manage deer for the "carrying
capacity" of the range was a bit of self-delusion, often dressed up by the euphemism
"scientific management."
-. White-tailed Deer Ecology and Management, Wildlife Management Institute

The goal of a deer management program is arbitrary, not scientific, which may be
upsetting news to some wildlife biologists and other resource managers as well as
citizens. Science does not make the decision. People do. Protectionist groups have
recognized intuitively that decisions by biologists and managers may have been biased
toward hunter interests, as the overall goal of maintaining sustainable harvests has been
pursued.
.. Ibid.

*Deer Management Techniques:


· Sex ratio manipulation-
To achieve maximum production, managers need to determine what number of males and
females in the population can produce the largest number of offspring, that is, what
density of animals provide the highest net production.
Managing Our Wildlife Resources, Stanley H. Anderson

Ideally, if the desired number of antlered and antlerless deer are taken each year, the
population will comprise the highest number of breeding females and lowest number of
adult males that collectively can be supported on the critical winter range. As a result, a
maximum fawn crop will be produced each summer.
The Conservationist, N. Y. S. D. E. C.

· Birthrate response to reduction-

Management of white-tailed deer populations through harvest regulation is based on the


premise that: (1). the more food available, the greater the rate of deer population increase,
and (2). the further a deer population is reduced below habitat carrying capacity, the
higher the rate of population increase.
White-tailed Deer Ecology and Management, Wildlife Management Institute

If a population is stable in the absence of hunting, then it cannot be harvested without


reducing the population. Two options are available to the wildlife biologist or manager to
increase such a deer population: (1). increase the deer's food supply through habitat
management; or (2). reduce the deer population temporarily, thereby making more food
available to each deer remaining in the population.
Ibid.

.......exploitation acts to reduce numbers. In doing so, it brings the population once more
below the level at which it is limited by environmental resources, effectively releasing the
density-dependent brake on population growth. Reproduction increases, juvenile
mortality falls, and the whole population's age structure shifts towards the young animals,
which have a faster growth rate and higher efficiency of food conversion. Productivity of
the population rises.

*Wayne Evans, PhD, assistant director of the State of New Mexico Department of Fish
and Game said, “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."
“The American Hunting Myth,” by Ron Baker (Vantage Press 1985). On page 79 Baker
quotes a portion of a July 26, 1978 letter by Evans to a Brandon Reines.

*"To many wildlife biologists and resource managers, it is an article of faith that deer
populations need to be hunted. That a hunting harvest is sustainable is not the same as
(its) being necessary. "
White-tailed Deer Ecology and Management, Wildlife Management Institute
* “The Good Old Days Are Now
Never before have New York's deer hunters been so successful
Success rates for bagging bucks have doubled in the past 20 years.
Hunter success has increased largely because many deer herds are now more productive.”
From the N.Y.S.D.E.C. Big Game Guide.

* [from Gary Yourofsky: http://biteclubkc.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/hunters-are-


the-terrorists-of-the-animal-world/] In 1971, there were about 500,000 deer in
Michigan, but that wasn’t enough to appease the hunting community. So the DNR
decided to change Michigan’s “old forest” situation by instituting the Deer Range
Improvement Program. The DRIP clear-cut 1.2 million acres of forest to create a more
accessible food supply for deer and further stimulate reproduction.
Add to this the disproportionate number of licenses issued to kill male deer and you have
a major increase in numbers. Killing male deer increases the herd by causing the females’
internal reproductive mechanisms to go haywire, resulting in the births of twins and
triplets. Any wildlife biologist not associated with the hunting community will aver that
this is fact.
The DRIP program and buck-hunting caused the deer herd to reach two million last year,
an increase of 1.5 million since 1971. That makes the hunting community solely
responsible for the increase in deer-car collisions.

Here’s what Dave Arnold, a DNR executive, told the Free Press on Jan. 1, 1980:
“Don’t lose sight of the purpose of the (DRIP) program. When the DNR decided
several years ago to try and increase the herd to about one million animals, we knew
the auto collision rate and crop damage would rise.”

PREDATOR/PREY RELATIONSHIP
*Lack of predators: the prey population effects the number of predators, not vice versa:
The fact that in the majority of cases populations do eventually stabilize at some
equilibrium point even in predator-free environments suggests, however, that there must
also be a series of intrinsic factors which may effect population performance in these and
other deer populations, in such a way that populations will eventually stabilize on their
own.
- The Natural History of Deer, Rory Putman

DEER-CAR COLLISIONS
* See Dave Arnold in first section
*According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, most car/deer
collisions happen during hunting season. It is not difficult to understand why the hunting
in the woods would send deer out onto the roads, in a panic.
An article in the Dec. 8, 1998 Trenton Times related a serious car/deer collision that
occurred on the opening day of the 1998 shotgun hunting season. A spokesman for the
state Department of Environmental Protection said, “the presence of hunters in the woods
puts animals, including deer and bear, on the run and often causes them to leave wooded
areas.”

*Sudharsan, K., Riley, S.J., Winterstein, S.R. (2006), “Relationship of autumn hunting
season to the frequency of deer-vehicle collisions in Michigan. Journal of Wildlife
Management 70(4):1161-1164.
“It can be reasonably argued that if in fact hunting advocates believe the rut is
partially to blame for these accidents, hunters who douse themselves in estrus deer
urine should be culpable.”

*Deer-car collisions: an inevitable by-product of recreational hunting. The states with


the most hunters have the highest numbers of deer and deer-car collisions. The number of
deer-car collisions has risen steadily along with the size of the deer herd in New York
State.

FOR WHOM ARE DEER MANAGED?


*From an article entitled "Deer management dilemma will affect our future seasons”
(Vol. 2, Issue 3, 12/05), by Brian Dam, outdoor writer, for the Central New York
Outdoor Journal

"What is the reason for the management problem? Hunters, who have paid
the freight with their license dollar, have always asked for more deer.
Biologists have responded with various techniques that allow deer herds to
build beyond the carrying capacity of the forests, and now they are paying
the penalty with declining forest regeneration. The basic premise is that
biologists have kept hunters happy but ruined the forest."

“The dilemma - hunters are never happy with the numbers of deer they see and forest
managers are never happy unless the forest dollars per acre are maximized.”

Dam, referring to a quote in the latest issue of National Wildlife, in an article entitled,
"How Deer are Redesigning Our Forests," by James P. Sterba, a staff writer for the Wall
Street Journal, uses Gary Alt's statement "deer management has been the biggest mistake
in the history of wildlife management." Alt refers to it as "malpractice." (Alt was the
Chief Deer Biologist in PA until he resigned in 2004).

LYME
* “Killing deer has been suggested as a way to attack Lyme disease. But experts say
such action is premature and dangerous. Deprived of their usual hosts, infected adult ticks
become a more immediate nuisance, as happened when deer on an island off
Massachusetts were virtually exterminated. Wandering ticks threatened the populace as
they searched for new hosts.”
(Consumers Reports June, 1988)

FUNDING OF WILDLIFE AGENCIES


*A large percentage of a wildlife agency's support comes from the sale of state hunting
licenses and federal funding (The Pittman-Robertson Act) distributed to each state
depending in part on the number of licenses sold. These agencies are dependent on
hunters for their livelihood. Hunters then use the influence their license fees and tax
dollars to direct the policies and programs of wildlife agencies - toward providing them
with game animals to be hunted. Although a United States Supreme Court declared,
"Wildlife is held in trust for all citizens," wildlife is being managed with an utter
disregard for the interests of the majority who do not hunt.

STARVATION
*As is pointed out at the beginning of this report, game species such as deer are
"managed" to produce a surplus of animals for hunting above what nature would be able
to create and maintain. As a result, a larger-than-normal number of deer - i.e., more than
the winter range can sustain - may be carried over into winter. Severe weather will reduce
the herd through winter kill regardless of the "success" rate of hunting in the fall.

Starvation is a process of natural selection: Natural selection, simply put, is the


mechanism employed by nature to create the survival of the fittest (Ritchie and Carola,
1981). This, in a word, is evolution. The processes of natural selection include such
factors as predators, parasites/disease, starvation/thirst, hot/cold (thermoregulation), and
accidents. These are natural test factors that any and every population is subjected to. It
produces a genetically superior gene pool and creates an improved population that is
better adapted to its environment than the one before (Ritchie and Corola, 1981). Though
these processes may at times appear cruel and unjust to humans, they have no doubt
(been) proven (to be) extremely successful devices by nature. For those species that
satisfactorily complete these tests, there is at least a short-lived guarantee, barring major
catastrophes, that future generations will carry on. Within the past decade though, some
professionals, including wildlife managers, have become concerned over the disruption of
natural selection factors by sport hunting and fishing.
Dr. Thomas Eveland

DEER REGULATE THEIR OWN NUMBERS WHEN LEFT ALONE


*In analyzing the population dynamics of Michigan's George Reserve white-tailed
population, McCullough (1979) found that more male fawns were conceived in years of
high density (and hence a suboptimal nutritional plane) compared with their proportion at
lower stocking levels. Verme (1969) postulated that, coupled with a decline in ovulation
rate, the tendency for does to produce a heavy surplus of male fawns could accelerate
natural population reduction (emphasis added) as the range progressively deteriorated.
White-tailed Deer Ecology and Management, Wildlife Management Institute

*Mortality is also known to change with population density. Neonatal survival of


juveniles is far lower in populations of high density.
_ The Natural History of Deer, Rory Putman

*.... most deer populations appear to respond to increasing density by a reduction in


fecundity and an increase in mortality (particularly... juveniles... ). Ultimately, rates of
reproduction and rates of mortality or emigration will reach zero and the population
numbers stabilize at some equilibrium level determined by the availability of
environmental resources.
The Natural History of Deer, Rory Putman

*Weather influences the movement, productivity, and mortality rate of white-tailed deer
by affecting the growth and seasonal availability of food and by placing an energy stress
on (the) animals.
- White-tailed Deer Ecology and Management, Wildlife Management Institute

*In a corralled herd of white-tailed deer in N.Y.S., the average number of fawns born to
each female was 1.9 when food was plentiful, but dropped to only 0.43 when food was
scarce owing to higher (emphasis added) population densities. (Chaetum and
Severinghaus,1950).

HABITAT MANIPULATION TO INCREASE DEER NUMBERS FOR


HUNTERS

*The Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Michigan


increased the deer herd from 4000,000 to one million by clear cutting 1.3 million acres of
state forest to create deer browse. According to officials, this was done "because a forest
managed by nature cannot produce a fraction of the deer needed by half a million
hunters." A side effect of this deer production program was that 171,207 of these deer
starved to death during the 1978 - 1979 winter."