Wildlife “management”. We’ve all heard this term. But what exactly does it mean? Recently there has been much public debate on “controlling” the growing whitetail deer population in a prominent park very near our home. During the economy boom just before the recent crash, people were moving in droves into newly constructed McMansions (over-sized houses of the cookie-cutter variety placed on under-sized lots) built right up against the borders of this beautiful natural park. What a nice place to live. You can enjoy your enormous, impeccably decorated home and watch deer and other wildlife in the park through your rear windows. Sounds appealing, right?
In the tiny yard surrounding your McMansion you plant your garden and wait anxiously for it to mature into an even more beautiful setting. Splashes of blooming color now also surround you just outside your windows. You’ve felt especially ambitious and even decided to plant and raise your own tomatoes in your new garden. After all, we all know how wretched those Styrofoam tasting tomatoes in groceries are…
On a rare trip out into your little yard to harvest some ripe tomatoes, you notice that some of your flowers have disappeared where there should now be blooms. Your tomatoes don’t look so great either, as many are now gone and the plants have been pushed over. The lower branches of your new carefully planted little trees are snapped off at about half their length. You glance down and notice a place in the grass that has a foot imprint in it that is not yours. It is a tiny print of an animal with cloven feet. What could possibly have happened in your garden last night? Whatever it is….this simply WILL NOT DO!
You’ve decided to set up surveillance by looking out your windows more. You diligently keep an eye on those flowers and tomatoes even after the sun goes down. Finally the culprits unveil themselves. It is a small family of whitetail does. They have come into your yard and are munching away! All that colorful beauty is GONE!
A call to the Park Management is now in order. You make your call only to find out that you are only one in a long procession of previous calls made by your neighbors. Something must be done! Your garden is RUINED! And deer carry diseases too! And the ticks are just terrible this year! And ticks carry diseases! What if you get sick? This is just AWFUL! The park ranger who has taken your call now feels pressure from the “public” to somehow make this tragic situation “right”. A formal count of deer in the park is now in order.
It doesn’t take an exceptionally bright person to know that whenever wildlife and people clash it is always the wildlife that looses. It has recently been decided that the whitetail deer population in the park will be reduced by three-quarters this fall. Yes, I did say THREE-QUARTERS. It is the plan by park officials to bring sharp shooters into the park during a predesignated week. These marksmen will wait in hiding as deer come up to feeding stations placed solely for the purpose of blowing their brains out. Maybe next year’s tomato crop will be better…
The deer population within the park has indeed increased over time, as it has nearly everywhere else in the U.S. where they live. Man is directly responsible for this, as we have systematically annihilated any and all natural predators of this animal so they are left to reproduce with very few casualties. If this “problem” inside the park had been addressed before complaints had been filed in droves, then perhaps a kinder solution could have been found. Sterilization is a gradual solution that would have been quite effective over time.
(Above) A small family of does runs across a walking/bike trail within the park.
(Below) A doe watches me watching her. Deer in the park and surrounding areas have very little fear of people, as they share the same space in close proximity. I was on foot walking two dogs when I took the picture below. Quite relaxed near me this doe lowered her head again to graze.
(Below) Bucks generally are shy and tend to be more active at night. In the following two photos I tried to capture the ghostly nature of these magnificent creatures. In these photos they almost look as if they are on fire, which I think aptly defines their wild spirits…
(Below) A two month old fawn is attracted by our mineral block. Life for wild animals is precarious at best. With the added pressures from man, one can never know how long a pretty little creature like this will survive.
(Below) this three month old fawn is a sitting duck for the horror that is to come. Killing these human acclimated animals will be like shooting fish in a barrel. To me this short-sighted solution seems like a terrible injustice, not only to the deer but also to ourselves…
“Noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, esp. those that appear commonly and are difficult to control, such as flies, lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, and rats.”
Has man added the whitetail deer to this list?