Why there are too many deer

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Federal and state game managers are fond of explaining that hunters have to kill deer to save them from starvation.  What they don't tell you is that there are more deer competing for the same food supply as a result of their game management policies.  There is an excellent book devoted to this subject: The American Hunting Myth   by Ron Baker  Unfortunately, it is now out of print, but Wildlife Watch may still have a few copies.  Their address is PO Box 284  Tomkins Cove NY 10986.  The book is hard cover and the price under $20.

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Below are a number of articles by different individuals with

specific information on this situation.  Except for the first item (a general explanation of how wild animals control their populations), they are in loose chronological order with the latest items first.  The last item is one of the best.  Click here  to go directly to "Sport Hunting -- More Deer for the Gun" by the late Luke Dommer.   Click here 171 to jump to more recent news and views added after January 1, 2000
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Wildlife 'game management' policies criticized
     by Bina Robinson Sunday Democrat and Chronicle (Jan 11. 1981)

.....All wild animals have evolved means of limiting their population in proportion to the food available to them. Otherwise the earth would have been overrun eons ago.

When a certain number of a species has been removed by predation, the remaining animals will replace them next time around.  When predation is particularly heavy, as in deer hunting, they will even overadapt and produce surplus offspring as insurance.

It is a scientific fact that a pair of guppies in a tank will reproduce until they have achieved a population as large as the tank can support.  Additional young will be eaten by the adults as soon as they are born.  If a portion of the population is removed, subsequent young will be allowed to live until the maximum population the tank can support has again been reached.

Other animals have evolved different means of controlling their numbers.  Communal birds are limited in breeding by the number of available nesting sites.  The breeding of other birds and territorial animals like wolves is limited by the amount and quality of territory open to them.

Even rabbits, famous for rapid reproduction, have the ability to reabsorb embryos into their womb when conditions get crowded.  The embryos of kangaroos remain in a state of arrested development in a dry season when food is scarce.   In the case of the white-tailed deer, many does simply fail to ovulate when the population is above its optimum level.

When the population falls below this level, however, production speeds up.  One of the most dramatic examples of this has occurred in Europe where there has been a systematic campaign to wipe out all foxes.  Vixens have been unearthed there with litters of 10, nine of them females!  The stress of hunting causes white-tailed does to ovulate at an earlier age and more twin fawns to be conceived.

THE POLICIES  of fish and wildlife departments are devoted not to "controlling" the number of deer, but to furnishing hunters with the maximum number at the start of hunting season.  The food supply is increased by clear-cutting and burning forest areas to create more browse.  This practice not only discriminates against tree dwellers like birds, squirrels and raccoons, but also results in many ground dwellers being burned or asphyxiated.

The additional browse causes more fawns to be conceived when, in some areas, there is already a population imbalance from too many deer.  The imbalance is exaggerated by restricting the number of does killed so that the population is replenished in numbers, if not in wisdom and experience, when the fawns are born in the spring. 

Without human interference there would be approximately one doe for every buck.  Now, there are almost eight does for every buck.  As deer are not monogamous, the stage is deliberately set for a population boom.

Because of this artificially high female sex ratio, the most dire predictions of mortality by game mangers would probably come true if deer hunting were suddenly to cease.

If hunting were to be phased out gradually over a period of five to 10 years, (1) however, giving deer a chance to achieve a normal sex ratio and adapt to the reduced predation, these animals would control their own numbers in proportion to their food supply.

Inasmuch as some deer look upon farm crops as part of their food supply, it probably would not be possible to stop killing them entirely, but hunting as we know it today, almost a form of warfare, could become a thing of the past.

In short, "game management" consists of deliberately stimulating deer to overproduce and then saying that they must be 'harvested" to save them from starvation.  This procedure often causes serious inconvenience to others in pursuit of other forms of outdoor recreation, and,  as a recent letter pointed out, to landowners who are often deprived of the safe use of their own property. (2)

It was in 1842 that the Supreme Court decided that wildlife should be "held in trust for all citizens".  This trust has been violated as far as over 90 percent  of us are concerned.   END

(1) Subsequent research has determined that this would happen in less than 5 years.
(2) Automobile accidents caused by deer are also a big factor, especially during hunting season when the rate escalates by a factor of five  on the first day.

Watchung Reservation deer hunt enters 6th bloody year

Honor and Non-Violence for Animals, 45 Davos Road, Brick NJ 08724
Stuart Chaifetz  January 11, 1999

More than 700 deer slaughtered since hunt enacted.
Deer population has increased

In the past 5 years, more than 700 deer have been killed, and dozens more have been crippled during the Watchung Reservation deer hunts.  The Union County (NJ) Parks Department says that this slaughter has reduced the size of the deer herd.  It has not.

27% rise in deer population since hunts were initiated

In 1994, an aerial count of deer showed 139 deer on 4600 acres of land, 2000 of which was the Reservation. In 1998, another aerial survey took place. This time 177 deer were counted.  After 5 years and more than $200,000 of taxpayer money wasted and 700 dead deer, the population was larger than before the killing started.

This happened because hunting, far from reducing deer herds, actually
increases them.  When a large number of deer are removed from a herd through hunting, competition for food, water, space and breeding opportunities is reduced.  The reaction of the herd to the sudden kill is increased breeding.  With plenty of food to go around, including all the food that the County put out as bait, more females got pregnant, and (more) twin and triplet births often occurred.  This new, high birth rate not only replaced those that were killed, but it added significantly to the size of the total population.                                                  continued
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This is how they were able to kill 700 animals and still see an increase in the population.  All that has happened is that the County has turned