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Deer herds and hunting



Hello all,

Sam, ssevier@ditell.com wrote;
>The deer herd here in Utah has been genetically weakened by two forces:
1) most predators are gone and 2) our deer hunters, nattily sporting a
room temperature IQ consistently go after the biggest and strongest to
kill. I would venture to guess that at some time in the future our
entire herd will be so weakened that it will not survive the winter. Two
things should happen to promote a healthy herd: bring back the predators
and extinct the deer hunter. Yes the herd is large, but a disaster lurks
just out of sight.<

Apparently there is a problem in perception at work here. We deer hunters
do not always select the biggest, strongest, or most well antlered
specimens. Here in Arkansas the Game and Fish Department use the fees from
us hunters licenses to study the needs of the herd and schedule seasons.
Doe only hunts, encouragement to harvest poor quality members of the herd,
and other programs designed to increase not only numbers but quality of the
herd, again are paid for by us dimwitted hunters. These fees also provide
access ramps to streams and lakes for all, help buy wildlife management
lands that are carefully controlled, and provide hunter safety courses that
are free. There are more whitetailed deer in Arkansas now than there has
ever been, and without the hunters money our state would be less enjoyable
for all.

I submit that a much larger, and unmentioned, problem exists here. As a
former resident of the western US I know for a fact that livestock grazing
has a very negative impact on the deer's winter food supply. Take away the
cows and sheep and the hunters impact would be minimal. Mule deer, the
species in Utah, come down from the mountains when the snows deepen, and
they find overgrazed lands where there was always food before. If the
situation is as critical as Sam thinks then I suggest the BLM, Forest
Service, or other governmental offices have a different agenda than
wildlife management. Rather than point an accusing finger at hunters, ask
how much land is set aside for the preservation of wildlife as opposed to
give-away leasing for bovine profiteers.

To blame us hunters is the easy way to explain a very complex issue. I take
great offense in being blamed for a problem we are more concerned about
than non-hunters.

As for predators being out of the picture, again look to the livestock
industry. Wolves, bears, and mountain lions threatened the domesticated
herds so they were eliminated, not by hunters but ranchers. There is no
logical way to blame hunters for this. Unnatural selection and
environmental alteration, driven by greed, have forever changed the face of
the west.

If you are just opposed to hunting in general then be opposed to forces
acting much more directly to diminish your deer herds as well. Be aware
that without our monies, in some places the ONLY money, wildlife and the
evironment would be the poorer. Don't blast hunters for loving game species
in a way non-hunters will never understand. Every deer we see in the wild
is not a target! Don't make us your target or you become the glazed-eyed,
uncaring, and dimwitted fool totally withouit respect that we hunters are
supposed to be.

"Extinction of hunters" is a knee-jerk reactionary response that has
neither a basis in fact nor respect for our enormous efforts to assist
wildlife on several fronts. Oppose hunting and you oppse the very wildlife
that our efforts have raised to unprecidented numbers. Ask a Ducks
Unlimited member if  the wetlands they buy for nesting grounds is
threatening waterfowl's existance. With a little insight and tolerance us
hunters become less the savage killers and more the environmental advocates
than the media or animal rights activist would have you believe. We that
are ethical hunters care a great deal, and not for totally selfish reasons.
Hunting, for me, returns my spirit to a time when these skills meant
survival or no. Like it or not some of us must retain those skills, or our
species is diminished.

Roger A. Stephenson
rstephen@cswnet.com
ethical bowhunter, concerned evironmentalist, above room temperature IQ