“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 hunter, I cannot help but laugh at the lack of knowledge about whitetail deer overgrazing in the northeast. “Innocent creatures” is a strange term indeed, for Mother Nature does not recognize innocence or protect species from the harshness of the wild. When it comes to a balanced habitat and a healthy forest in the northeast, whitetail deer are far from innocent.
We often hear the term deforestation. Far less often we hear a more relevant term: forest degradation. I have one fundamental question for this outcry against the Blue Hills Hunt in Massachusetts. What about the countless species threatened by uncontrolled deer populations degrading northeastern forests through overgrazing?
The list of species affected is rather long and very serious. The Canada Warbler is a bird listed as threatened directly because of whitetail overgrazing in Massachusetts. How about the Frosted Elfin, a butterfly listed as either endangered or threatened in every northeastern state? Again the number one culprit is the whitetail.
According to The Nature Conservancy, “Scientists report that one-third of New York’s forests are currently compromised as a result of excessive herbivory […]” from whitetail deer.
The TNC reports, “Unfortunately, the harm is often overlooked, or worse, accepted as somehow natural.”
Speaking of “natural,” I would like to open up an old healthy debate with anti-hunters. You are a mammal, a hardwired 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 it simply: we are far from being vegetarians.
Let’s come back to the responsible management of deer herds. Science has unquestionably proved its necessity. Some have suggested alternative methods, such as a new dart that renders a doe sterile for a few years. As a conservationist, I find such modern practices artificial and freakish. They’re also impractical. According to the fiscal report on MassWildlife, 97% of their funding comes from the purchase of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. Why would we use up a budget on something that hunters do for free?
If you want to claim that it is unnatural for me and many other Massachusetts residents to want suitable and healthy meat for our families’ dinner tables, you should rethink your environmental convictions about the planet. The corporate meat trade threatens the balance of Mother Nature. Massive deforestation of the rain forest for soy beans threatens the future of the planet. The house you live in required the permanent destruction of habitat. Attacking the Blue Hills Hunt is a disgusting display of miseducation and reckless emotions.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.