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Long Island comprises about 1, 200 acres and is home to more that 500 families. During the 1960 s, deer on the island were kept in check through restricted hunting. But in the 1970 s, this limited population control was ended when residents made hunting illegal on Long Island. By 1983, overpopulation had created a stunted sickly herd of deer serious problem for the Fish and Game Department.
Since most residents were still opposed to killing deer, the department was forced to use supposedly more humane methods. However, years later, reality had set in for most of the islands residents, as the results of mismanagement were starkly evident. The deer were in a pathetic condition. Some literally staggered or were to weak to hold up their heads while walking, and the ribs, spines and pelvic bones of many deer were clearly visible (Shedd and Monahan 6). The detrimental effects of deer overpopulation can be witnessed in any scenario similar to this account of Long Islands deer control problems.
Since the humanity of hunting is often questioned, many alternative methods of population control have been developed and executed. These methods, however, have proven unsuccessful in the effort to diminish deer overpopulation. Due to the excessive amount of evidence demonstrating the problems of overpopulation and the failure of hunting alternatives, it can be concluded that hunting is both a viable and humane method to control the negative effects of deer overpopulation. In order to effectively assess this issue, it is necessary to examine the harmful effects produced by overpopulation, the outcomes of failed alternatives to hunting, and the benefits of controlling deer population that only hunting can provide. Showing the growth of the deer population Stephen Budiansky, of U.
S. News & World Report, states that, From a mere 500, 000 at the turn of the century, the deer population now stands at 20 million and growing (85). Surely, this huge boom in the population of this animal raises some question as to how many are too many. Land that was once quite capable of handling its capacity of deer is now, unable to support the numbers of deer living there with remaining food supplies. Humans must intervene in order to bring deer down to acceptable levels.
In 1996 the Pennsylvania Game Commissions official stance was a goal of, 21 deer per square mile (Belsie 4). This was however a liberal goal, as David deCelsta, of the US Forest Service, on the topic of deer population in Pennsylvania, wants it cut to 10 (Belsie 4). The actual number of deer however, was estimated to be around thirty plus deer per square mile. This population size is three times what deCelsta claims would be ideal for the land to handle. Part of the problem of these excess deer can be attributed to how the deer breed. The natural breeding tendencies of a female deer are to produce as soon and as much as possible.
The magazine the Conservationist states that, mature females may have two fawns each year and females may start breeding when one year old (6). In order to grow and meagerly sustain these large numbers the only thing the deer must do for themselves, is find food. These animals have found this food from a resource which was once not available to them, mankind. By moving into rural and suburban areas deer are able to scrounge up food from farmers and suburbanites. In one such situation Warner Shedd and Philip Monahan, of the magazine Outdoor Life, state that, residents of Long Island were feeding the deer, thereby exacerbating the population problem and habituating the deer to human contact (6). Deer who get used to living in areas populated by humans quickly become nuisances.
In the article Deer + Humans Means Disaster it is stated that deer destroy $ 11. 3 million in landscaping plants and shrubbery each year in New York alone (Deer + Humans Means Disaster 8). Laurent Belsie, with the Christian Science Monitor, states that, each year deer eat an estimated $ 80 million worth of crops (4). That 80 million dollars in lost crops could go a long way to help feed the nations starving people, and at the very least it would be extra money in the pockets of struggling farmers; yet every year it goes to feed these ravenous animals. With such a high price on damages it would seem that deer might be more than a simple nuisance. The persistence of deer trying to eat gardens often gets homeowners in a fluster. What is there to do, after all, with such large numbers of deer it seems as though there could be no solution, even those solutions that are tried often fail?
Some suggest planting those plants that deer wont eat, but as Charles W. Petit shows if theyre hungry, the deer will eat them anyway (70). Still others try and detour deer by erecting high fences, Laurent Belsie states At the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum, for example, horticulturists have tried everything form deer repellent to a Jack Russell terrier to protect their rose garden. Finally, two years ago they erected a 9 -foot-high fence. Still, the deer can be seen wriggling on their bellies to get under it (4). While roses and shrubs may be the most annoying plants for deer to eat, they arent the only plants dealing with the onslaught of deer.
The very forests that the deer usually call home become damaged when deer populations get too large. In general a healthy forest would be full of small undergrowth (i. e. seedlings, saplings, thorny undergrowth, and various wild bushes). However, when an overabundance of deer exists these plants tend to disappear. Jan E.
Dizard best explains this phenomenon in her book Going Wild, Under normal circumstances a forest like the Quabbins would have a profusion of sticks: small saplings, tangles of vines, and thick patches of wild raspberry and other early successional plants woven in and out amongst the more mature stands of trees. In the summer especially, a visitor to the forest would be confronted by a nearly impenetrable screen of vegetation that would be as hard to see beyond as it would be unpleasant to move through (35). Dizard later goes on to say that, instead a visitor to the forest has a nearly unobstructed path before them, other then the old growth trees and countless ferns on the forest floor (36). While this scene may seem both natural and serene it isnt a standard healthy forest. The absence of saplings and fruits on the forest floor can be very detrimental to the growth of the forest.
Not only does this absence prevent the forest from regenerating, but it also tends to diminish the other wildlife in the area. In a study by William Mc Shea, of the Smithsonian Institution, a ten-acre plot where deer were allowed access was shown to have only ten percent of the squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, wood rats, and mice as that of a ten-acre plot where deer were denied access (85). It would seem that a mass of deer simply grazing end up doing more then just feeding themselves, thier eating removes undergrowth that would normally provide shelter and food to animals and insects. Mc Shea later goes on stating that in some of the areas where deer were denied access rare migratory birds appeared to eat the insects that depended on the undergrowth for food and shelter (85). Not only has the overpopulation of deer been hurting other animals, but deer have also begun to harm humans. With the number of fatal car collisions involving deer on the rise, and the spread of Lyme disease (an illness carried by deer and transmitted to humans by ticks, that can causing life-long problems) deer population control has now become a necessity in order to help human lives.
Michigan drivers hit 55, 666 deer in 1994 causing five deaths and 1, 753 injuries; deer crashes increased to 67, 000 in 1997 (Deer + Humans Means Disaster 8). These statistics worsen with a nation wide look at the problem. The Insurance Information Institute states that, in the U. S. during 1995 more than 29, 000 people were injured and more than 200 were killed as a result of car accidents involving deer (McAleese and Submit 97).
With a reduced number of deer surely some of these lives would have never been wasted in car accidents. Tens of thousands of other Americans are affected each year by painful Lyme disease. According to Current Events, In 1996 16, 000 Americans were infected with Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause painful headaches, aching, and swollen joints (3).
The larger the number of deer is allowed to grow, the larger these accidents and infection rates will grow. It seems that as deer numbers grow larger they hurt more humans and more wildlife, but it also turns out that in the long run, they hurt themselves. When deer grow to large numbers even their ravenous eating habits tend to leave them poorly feed. What generally happens is a deer herd will grow to a population size too large for the land to handle and the food supply will dwindle. As Nelson and Banaszewski state in their article Too Many Deer, during winter mo...
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Research essay sample on Controlling Deer Overpopulation Through Increased Hunting