Friday, May 05, 2006

Deer Me!

An interesting article in today’s WaPo on the ongoing battle to control deer herds in the DC suburbs.

A couple of points caught my attention.

First, suburban Marylanders appear to have no common sense. (Some NoVans aren’t much better, but the malady is more widespread in the blue state across the river.)

““I'm so petrified to leave my house that I've become a prisoner in my own bedroom," said Kim Thompson, whose back yard borders the park where Norman [the man employed to cull the herd] shoots deer. It's not sharpshooters she's afraid of, however, it's the deer, which are notorious for darting in front of cars."

“Her husband, Joe, shook his head. "I don't want bullets whizzing around here," he said. "I'm much more afraid of guns than any deer."” Ma’am, why are you “petrified” of the deer? Are you an idiot or just employing hyperbole? I admit that deer on the roads are cause for caution, especially where there are too many of them, but it’s hardly cause for alarm. Sir, I’m not sure where to start with you.

And we meet other stalwarts of the Old Line State:

“Tom Morton, 62, a graphic designer, said he doesn't see a need to kill deer. “I just hate to see the poor things be shot,” he said. “Why can't they just load their guns with tranquilizer and take the deer somewhere where they can live happily ever after?” Because, sir, that just transfers the problem. You have a problem with large numbers of the creatures, and relocation isn’t the answer (as if it was even feasible). And no animal lives happily every after, anywhere. This is reality, not Disney.

“My goodness, they use bullets?” asked Pasternak, 35, an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor. “A high-powered rifle right behind our house? I can't imagine anyone would support that.” (Grasseater!)

Fortunately, there are folks quoted in the article who do see the light, and who do support the efforts. Unfortunately, I think they are a minority in suburban MD.

Moving right along, as Kermit the Frog might say, we come to this:

“The construction boom has destroyed deer habitat, forcing the animals to wander in search of food. Suburban greenery offers the highly adaptable deer a new habitat, one with few predators.” Damn right it has, and this in my opinion is one of the primary reasons to cease the construction boom. You see, I like the deer. I like to see them in the mornings and the evenings. I want there to be places close to me where the deer can live undisturbed and I want places close to me where I can hunt them, too. More development, less habitat; less habitat, more problems. Preserve places for the creatures to live, allow selective hunting, and you’ll have healthier and stronger deer herds on lands that can support them, and you’ll have homeowners whose gardens are relatively safe from consumption and who have no reason to be “petrified” of deer accidents. Keeping some land in suburbia open to hunting also preserves and promotes an honorable and much-needed way of life: hunting.

Hunting, not killing. Hunting, practiced by those who revere and treasure wildlife, takes by removing some animals but gives back by conserving the land and the water. Culling the herd, at night and with technological superiority, is just killing. We might have to do it now, because of the state of things, but culling is just killing. It is, to quote (if I remember correctly) the great African hunter, Peter Hathaway Capstick, “a dismal business.” (Interesting point: Capstick grew up hunting and fishing and revering the rural life in… northern New Jersey.)

One of the very nice ladies I was working the polls with on Tuesday told me that she lives in northern Loudoun county, in a community that is still somewhat rural (though not for long). When she moved there, she was “anti-hunting.” Pretty quickly, she saw what an absence of hunting does to a deer herd. Now, though she doesn’t hunt, she’s all for it.


Blogger Shane said...

About twenty years ago I heard that nationwide, deer kill about 150 people a year during mating season. If that was true then, I would think that the number of human deaths will increase as deer move into increasingly urban habitats. The deaths were generally adult human male hunters and outdoorsmen, so they were pretty much ignored by the media. Due to the fact the deer are now in greater and greater contact with women and children in subrurban and urban areas, I would expect women and children to be injured and killed more frequently.

10:25 AM  
Blogger victorysten said...

hey, great blog. I see you also post on I'm a fellow VMI alum ('96)
and if you are interested you can check my rant and rave blog at

1:08 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

Those quotes are laughable - yet sad! C'mon, people - if there are too many deer, some of them need to be killed! They shouldn't be foraging out of peoples gardens, etc.
Grasseaters, indeed! Great post :-)

3:18 PM  
Blogger vmijpp said...

thanks shane, barb and victorysten. please come again soon!


ps: victorysten, send me an email at

3:30 PM  

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