opinion   |   letters

LETTER: Deer cull not the answer to overpopulation



deer

A deer crouches low in the brush near a house in downtown Bloomington. White-tailed deer have overpopulated the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve for years, damaging forest ecology by feeding on plants. Lydia Gerike Buy Photos

While I agree with the Editorial Board that action needs to be taken to address deer overpopulation in the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, I disagree with the Board’s general endorsement of hunting, as well as its specific endorsement of hunting in the Preserve

I believe that the overpopulation problem has not been satisfactorily resolved with the passage of Ordinance 18-15 and that Bloomington should continue looking into non-lethal management options, like sterilization, contraception and fencing, if not for this year, then at least for the future.

As for the Board’s more general endorsement of hunting, I believe that hunting, or killing cows to make steaks for that matter, is wrong and should be avoided except in the most extreme circumstances. 

Very few humans, if any, living in the United States today can claim that hunting is a necessity — that they won’t be able to feed themselves if they can’t. The old age of hunting is of little import. Slavery and the subordination of women are also old.

As for the Preserve, the three main objections to non-lethal methods seem to be DNR approval, effectiveness and cost. To these concerns, I say if the DNR won’t allow these methods, the city should do what it can to change that. 

While sterilization and contraception are not immediately effective — we have  to wait for the deer to die before they stop eating the vegetation — the long-term effect is indistinguishable from killing the deer.

As for cost, it does not appear that non-lethal methods would cost substantially more. While it cost $43,000 to kill 62 deer last year, the Deer Task Force said in its 2012 report that contraception and sterilization cost between $600 to $1,000 per deer and that effective fencing can be built for $6 to $8 per foot. 

But even if non-lethal methods do cost more, the cost should fall on humans, since it is we who created the problem. Our fellow humans impose all kinds of costs on the rest of society, but our solutions to those problems rarely involve killing them. The same should hold here.

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