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Deer are the new varmints

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According to the New York Times (free registration may be required), deer populations have exploded so much that they're throwing the ecosystem out of whack, eating gardens and peoples' shrubbery, and creating hazards in the roads.In a related article, the New York Times also notes that with the spread of deer across the country also comes the spread of a predator: mountain lions. According to the article, with the increase in prey populations and the restricted hunting season, there may be more mountain lions alive now than were alive before the Europeans came to the United States.

From Aureth: Deer as pests is rather old news in the area I grew up in...Back in the early 90s, there was a large debate about what to do about the severe overpopulation that was occuring. With the spread of urban areas, and the decrease in predator populations, this is a problem that won't go away. It is interesting to note, however, that for several years in the mid 90s, coyote populations in the area exploded.

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One way or anohter this problem can be traced back to hunting.

Humans have hunted so many species in this country, we have knowcked the ecosystem out of whack.

You know what? I am willing to bet that if hunting was completely banned in the USA the ecosystem would balance itself out in less than 10 years. The predetors and prey would return to healthy levels, as they have in other nations or parts of nations where hunting doesn't occur.

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Oh, I doubt that. Lack of hunting is the problem. Not just humans hunting, but the lack of predators like wolves and mountain lions. See, as long as humans keep moving into their territories, predator populations will shrink. 'Problem animals' will be dealt with. Heaven forbid some nasty coyote eats our pets, or a puma attack our children. And the deer population will grow, since nothing is hunting them, and they have a wonderful new food source in our farm fields and backyard gardens. If humans don't hunt the deer, they will continue to overpopulate themselves. And the only way to control the herd will be through sickness and disease, like the wasting disease found in Wisconsin herds.

I don't suppose you've ever wondered why there are so many diseases attacking people every year? Maybe because we have no natural predators anymore, we've overpopulated the planet, and Nature needs some way of keeping us in check.

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What you said, sister!

I love Bambi as much as the next fur, but humans are PART of the ecosystem, not above it. If we allowed ourselves to interact with it in a normal predator fashion (i.e. hunting the weak, wounded & sickly for food), this problem wouldn't be a problem much longer. Deer populations would be healthier to boot (so long as trophy hunters don't take the healthiest & strongest).

Diseases hardly need an anthropomorphic Nature, tho. It's the same reason giant, homogenous food crops have pest problems - put a lot of the same species in one place and diseases have a wonderful chance to spread & evolve simply because there is so MUCH of their host with few other species to confuse the issue.

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So...let me get this straight...we humans move into nearly every inch of the territory formerly occupied by predators and prey living in a sustainable ecosystem...we make things so difficult for the predators that their populations are reduced dramatically...

...and folks are SURPRISED when there's more deer than their remaining scrap of land can handle?

Seems like we're the pests, not the deer.

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Back in my hometown in Ohio, we had a huge deer problem. The wildlife division was going to hire some sharpshooters, closer off a park, and pick off does in order to reduce the population.

Some people protested, saying that it was better and more human to feed a birth control drug to the deer, something which sounded cool until you found out how much it cost.

The debate struggled back and forth, until one day, on a suburban street, some children saw a deer and her fawn walk out of the woods onto the road... And a coyote attacked. It ran up, attacked the fawn, and dragged it off into the woods.

The reaction was immidiate and hysterical. "That fawn could have been our children!" was the cry, and an unofficial hunt began to find the coyote that dared to attack so close to human habitation. Wildlife officials tried to calm the public, to no avail. Eventually, a dead coyote was produced. Whether it was the coyote that actually killed the fawn or not seemed to be irrelevent.

The irony was that Nature had presented a natural solution to the deer problem. The public's response was to kill the solution. =P

But, yeah. Deer overpopulation might be news to New Yorkers, but it's old hat to people living in the mid-west. ;)

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It's not just deer. Canadian geese have had a population explosion, and many people complain about how much of a niusance they've become. They tear up the ground, leave their droppings everywhere, and they can be dangerous, especially to small children.

Starlings are another problem bird. They are not native to North America, but were released here sometime in 19th century in an effort by some literary buff to promote Shakespeare by releasing all of the fourteen or however many species of bird that are mentioned somewhere in his works. Of those, starlings have been the most 'successful', populating areas of the continent to the point where populations of other native species have suffered due to competition from them for food and territory.

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Actually the answer is to ALLOW hunters to kill and eat the excess deer.

It is sad that in most of the USA it is illegal to harvest deer commercially for their meat.

I for one would LOVE to be able to buy venison at the supermarket.

VENISON the other red meat! :P

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Unfortunately, Chronic Wasting Disease (the cervine equivalent of Mad Cow Disease) is spreading rapidly across the country. This has already reduced hunting in Wisconsin, as the article notes, and would make commercial hunting infeasible.

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this is generaly what happens when we diminish the natural habitate of natural preditors - nothing wrong with killing it if you're gonna eat it and eating it if you kill it (deer, rabbits, et c.) - and nothing wrong with letting natural preditors rome the streets - yes they might just eat your children at that - but neither you nor your childrend need to be in their path -
i don't mean to sound like i'm suggesting feeding our children to natural preditors as a way of bringing our own overpopulation into balance -
we could after all spay and neuter ourselves -
we could make it a lot cheeper or even free for humans to do that -
maybe even provide some sort of tax rebate if they did -
whatever solution, good, bad or indefferent is ultimately found - we as humans WILL have to live with it ...
i still think something in the water supply to lower human fertility accross the board - draconian as that may sound - is probably the most practical and effective solution
famine, war and disease are the most probable outcome of failing to do so ...
of course we could design our communities to more compatably live side by side with the other creatures we share the planet with ...
something dumb like setting out poisen our pets and children will likely get into anyway is what i'd guess is most likely to happen in the short sighted short term ...
but even socialy transmitted diseases are part of nature's way of trying to tell us there's way the heck and gone too blessed many of US ...

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I can't really comment on the deer problem, as I lack any real knowledge on it (and I strongly suspect many of my fellow posters here are just as ignorant). I will recommend, however, that you folks should go and take a look at Bjorn Lomborg's /The Skeptical Environmentalist/, which strikes a good balance between pointing out just what really needs to be done.

Stop believing the propaganda of EarthFirst and Al Gore, people. Get some hard facts, and then make a decuision based on reason rather than off-the-wall theories.

Ardashir

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I have gotten hard facts, I've done the research.

And I'll stand by my belief that we have no right to try and regulate nature, especially after what we've already done to it. Nature has proven itself capable of regulating itself, it doesn't need us or our help.

Nature always finds a way, I've seen it happen here with deer, hunting is limited here, nature served up a population boost in coyotes, coyotes are great at killing young deer, as such the deer population went down. Of course leave it to people to complain that now there were too many coyotes.

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And for a balance check on the balance, read the long article in Scientific American, "Misleading Math about the Earth." Just like the "Junk Science" website that claims to debunk poor scientific reasoning but is often far more guilty of twisting numbers than the "junk scientists" it claims to be fighting against, a real look at "hard facts" suggests that the self-proclaimed debunkers are often more guilty of pushing political agendas rather than science as the environmentalists they're always attacking.

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