Tucked away within the peaceful woods of Northern Westchester, N.Y., behind the beautiful, historic farmhouses and winding nature paths, lies an impending bloodbath.
This month, sharpshooters will be culling 75 deer at the Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, NY.
The so-called nature conservatory claims that the deer are killing the reservation by eating the foliage and wildflowers that once grew there in abundance.
According to the article which appeared in the Journal News on Tuesday:
Specially trained biologists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture will shoot deer over several nights, using bait to entice them and night-vision equipment to see them, according to federal and state permits. The meat will be donated to charities that distribute venison to the hungry.
Of course, the wealthy neighbors whose large homes surround the Teatown property agree that the deer population is out of control, and that the decrease in shrubs and trees has resulted in less bird life. Furthermore, residents claim that reducing the deer population will also reduce the number of car accidents and fatalities along the Taconic State Parkway which runs through Westchester and is surrounded by woods.
I grew up in Tarrytown, which is all but a ten minutes drive from Teatown. I visited there with my school, with my family on weekends, and with friends during parties. I walked their nature trails, bought souvenirs in their gift shop, and stared for hours at the rehabilitated owls in their preserve.
I felt the need to post about this because although many citizens of Westchester are furious about this, Teatown refuses to respond to any criticism that is posted to their Facebook page. As a matter of fact, all comments and posts were deleted almost immediately after they were composed. Now I understand that they don’t want to deal with an angry mob, however, it’s Social Media Best Practice #1 that you never delete posts, even if they are challenging. Teatown’s refusal to engage in any type of conversation about their decision is unacceptable to me.
What I find appalling about this situation is this:
1) Hunting deer does not decrease their population. Were that true, there would be nearly none left given the fact that bow-hunting is an extremely popular sport in Westchester.
2) Reproductive rebound. With all the scientists and government officials who are supposedly knowledgeable about a situation such as this, none have thought or read about this? If you’d like to, check out articles here, here, and here. In the book Primate Life Histories and Socioecology, the author writes that in another species of mammals “populations are maintained less through the ability of adults to survive droughts and other natural catastrophes than the the rapid reproductive rebound of those that do survive.” The same rule applies to deer.
A better and more humane way to control the deer population would be through sterilization through a dart injection. Hastings on Hudson, another Westchester town, will be attempting this method this winter. While I appreciate their consideration to adopt a gentler approach, I still take issue with the fact that porcine zona pellucida, the ingredient used in the birth control shot, is harvested from the ovaries of pigs in slaughterhouses. So while it may seem like a cruelty-free option on the surface, they are really just borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
3) The citizens of Westchester are to blame for the abundance of deer. With huge and ornamental homes, condos, and gardens, it’s no wonder the deer stick around. They are providing them with a smorgasbord of food that is undoubtedly richer than one they would have to forage for themselves. Not to mention the fact that the puzzle of highways that we have created runs directly through deer territory. Westchester is literally packed like sardines, it’s becoming like Manhattan — where on Earth do we expect the deer to go?
4) Rifle hunting is illegal in Westchester County. Why is it okay for the government to break the law to initiate this unnecessary slaughter of deer?
5) Teatown states in their mission that their goal is:
To conserve open space and to educate and involve the regional community in order to sustain the diversity of wildlife, plants and habitats for future generations. We are devoted to conserving biodiversity, teaching ecology and promoting nature-friendly living.
What type of environmentally conscientious education center would promote this type of behavior? Furthermore, where do we stop? USDA Wildlife Services already rounds up and kills countless geese in the metropolitan area. As I was reading the original article in the Journal News, I noticed comments stating that this culling is long overdue, particularly given the amount of vehicle accidents on the Taconic State Parkway. So now whenever there is any type of inconvenience, the answer is to just kill? What an excellent example to set for our children — if something is a nuisance, you can simply excise it.
Guess what – we live in a suburban area. With wildlife.
My cousin lives in Maine and has to avoid moose on the road. He actually totalled his car from hitting a moose a few years ago, and he’s not alone. And guess what? Maine’s solution was to install special lights to help commuters avoid hitting these animals while on the road.
As for all that venison they are promising charities? Think again. Federal law does not require venison to be inspected under the federal meat inspection law. Therefore, it may be refused from charities who deem it unworthy of human consumption. See the case of the Irondequoit, NY bait-and-shoot program, during which they planned to donate the venison to Attica prison. Well, the prison didn’t want the deer meat, and it was discarded.
Teatown needs to hear from you.
1600 Spring Valley Road
Ossining, NY 10562
1 (914) 762-2912, the director’s name is Kevin Carter