The last place you would expect to see an animal rights group is protesting alongside a hunters’ rights group, but that’s exactly what is happening on Long Island’s East End. When town, state, and federal authorities announced the plan to remove as many as 3,000 deer from the local population, it polarized the community—and created unlikely allies. This is the first landscape-level cull in the region, and it has certainly garnered its share of opposition.
Local sportsmen were outraged over the use of hired guns to manage the local whitetail population. As with a lot of areas, access for hunters is extremely limited on Long Island. Now taxpayers are going to fund a service that hunters would happily provide for free?
Not surprisingly, local animal rights groups were equally opposed. Their protests and petitions started almost immediately. Senators were called, local officials were inundated with requests to stop the impending actions. Many questioned the biological implications of removing so many deer, as they are a keystone species. Mostly, though, the animal rights groups just didn’t want to see that many deer die.
But before you applaud or admonish a deer cull, it’s important to first know how these things actually work. That’s where I come in. As a wildlife specialist for USDA Wildlife Services, I participated in three deer culls over five years. [ Read Full Post ]