“Animal rights activists also came to the reservation, armed not with shotguns, but with bullhorns and with candles they lit Monday afternoon, in solemn protest of the hunt, which they described as a slaughter of innocent creatures.” (Boston Globe)
As a conservationist and a hunter I cannot help but laugh at the general lack of knowledge and science on the subject of white-tailed deer overgrazing in the Northeast. “Innocent creatures” is a strange term in my mind because Mother Nature does not recognize innocence, or protect species from the harshness of the wild, even in the blue hills hunt. More importantly, science puts white-tailed deer far from the list of “innocence” when it comes to a balanced habitat and healthy forest in the northeast.
Deforestation is a term we hear often, but far less often we hear the more relevant term (in this case) ‘Forest Degradation’. This term brings me to ask one basic and fundamental question to this out cry against the Blue Hills hunt in Massachusetts. What about the countless species threatened throughout the Northeast as a result of uncontrolled white-tailed deer populations that cause mass overgrazing resulting in forest degradation? Are you protecting their “innocence”?
You want a face to those species? Let’s start with the Canada Warbler, a bird that is listed as ‘threatened’ as a direct result of white-tailed deer overgrazing in Massachusetts. How about the Frosted Elfin, a butterfly listed as endangered or threatened in every Northeast state? Again the number one culprit to this species is the white-tailed deer. The list is rather long and very serious.
According to The Nature Conservancy, in New York “scientists report that one-third of New York’s forests are currently compromised as a result of excessive herbivory” from white-tailed deer. Even more concerning the TNC reports “unfortunately, the harm is often overlooked, or worse, accepted as somehow ‘natural.’”
As we bring up the word “natural”, I’d like to open the healthy and often overlooked debate of anti-hunters. You are a mammal and you are in fact a hard wired predator. 10,000 years of farming does not excuse you from millions of years of evolution as a meat eater. At what point did we as humans have a right to dismiss ourselves from the food chain?
According to HunterGreen.Org, “Humans do not have multiple stomachs like most herbivores or any evolutionary advantage designed to break down cellulose, which is the primary design of plant eating animals. The human digestive system is almost a complete failure when it comes to breaking down cellulose and B12.” To put that in landsmen terms- we are far from being vegetarians.
Let’s not get to off topic and come back to the responsible management of a deer herd that science has unquestionably proved necessary. It has been argued that “alternative” methods should be used, such as a new dart that renders a doe sterile for a few years. As a conservationist, I find such modern practices far from natural, but even more importantly far from practical. According to the fiscal report on MassWildlife, 97% of their funding (not from federal & state grants) comes from the purchase of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Why would we use a budget up for something that hunters are willing to do free?
If you at any point find the fact that I, as well as many other Massachusetts residents, want suitable and healthy meat for our family’s dinner tables, from the very natural and healthy practice of white-tailed deer hunting to be unnatural, you should rethink your fundamental stance of the future of the environment and planet. Corporate meat trade, massive deforestation of the rain forest for soy beans, the house you live in that permanently destroyed habitat are real threats to Mother Natures balance, not the blue hills hunt. The attack on the locavore movement of white-tailed deer hunting is far cry for “animal rights” and a disgusting display of miss education and reckless emotions.