FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How to Obliterate Deer in Federal Parks

by LEE HALL

In the midst of a federal shutdown, the Antietam and Monocacy battlefields in Maryland and the Manassas battlefield in Virginia are closed—to us. They have become quiet deer refuges. But the luck of the deer is unlikely to last, given a plan in the works to gun down more than 2,800 of them.

The biggest slaughter would happen in Manassas, where more than 1,600 deer are targeted. The National Park Service announced this deer-killing operation at the three Civil War battlefields in the name of defending vegetation and “other natural and cultural resources.”

The Service would, according to its plan, put surviving deer on contraceptives, assuming those substances become approved for such use.

There is no emergency. This plan simply expands a policy initiated at Valley Forge and Rock Creek national parks, where the Service is promoting a shooting-contraceptive “bundle”; methods announced in tandem to exert total control over deer.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars go into the annual wintertime management of deer in these parks. By shooting most deer before they become mature, the government is creating groups of only very young animals. And chemical contraceptives mean deer must be hunted down and captured; physical results may include abnormal antler development, inflammation, pain and abscesses.

Treating deer as experimental subjects, which has been going on for 30 years, involves the pharmaceutical sector, university laboratories, and the Humane Society of the United States.Not only is this a horror for deer whose bodies are invaded and examined; it also puts natural predators out of a job.

For indeed coyotes curb deer populations in a timeless and biologically natural way. The Park Service claims that coyotes in and around the Battlefields are merely scavengers. In fact, coyotes hunt animals as large as elk, according to the Service itself—not in its Battlefields Plan, but in other available materials.

A study in South Carolina found decreased deer following an increase in coyotes; in Alabama, coyotes were the leading cause of a 67 percent mortality rate among fawns in Auburn deer. But coyote populations are suppressed by human trappers and hunters in both Maryland and Virginia. The National Park Service has avoided confronting the harm this does to the biological balance of the region.

Meanwhile, researchers at Ohio State University and the National Park Service itself are challenging the science that suggests deer ravage ecosystems. High deer populations promote biodiversity when their waste enriches soil, with ripple effects throughout the food web, starting with earthworms, spiders, ants, slugs, snails and insects, snakes and salamanders.

Evidence shows plants’ vital uptake of carbon increases where both herbivores and carnivores exist. This has significance for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation—and it’s impossible to overstate the urgency of this point. By 2100, rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases and subsequent climate change are expected to modify plant communities so drastically that nearly 40% of land will change from one major ecological type—such as forest, grassland or tundra—into another.

The Interior Department can’t stop those changes on its own, but it can direct its National Park Service to stop substituting firearms and pharmaceutical control for nature. Unsuppressed by hunting and trapping, coyotes would need time to resume their roles as organized and effective predators—but the government could play a helpful role by guiding people to acceptance and safe co-existence. They’d then spare our money from federal contracts for unending cycles of killing ever-resilient groups of animals.

Lee Hall is a candidate for Vermont Law School’s LL.M. in environmental law (2014). Previously, Lee taught animal law and immigration law, and worked for more than a decade in environmental and animal advocacy. Lee, who co-founded the Coyote Coexistence Initiative to supplement the case against deer control at Valley Forge, is the author of On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth (Friends of Animals’ Nectar Bat Press, 2010). Follow Lee on Twitter:  @Animal_Law 

 

Lee Hall, J.D., LL.M., is an independent author, an adjunct professor of law and legal studies, a retail worker, and the creator of a studio for the Art of Animal Liberation on Patreon, for which support is always welcome and deeply appreciated.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail