Killing Deer in Pennsylvania: Hunting, or Population Control?

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In Rick Bass's Caribou Rising, he addresses hunting, and his motivation for it. Specifically, he claims that "Hunting is, largely more about desire than anything--more about desire than even the quarry itself. There's a desire for wild meat gotten fairly, knowledgably, and intimately--but, at the risk of sounding exceedingly simple, or worse yet, artsy-fartsy, it's about the desire to hunt: the act, the condition, of desiring to hunt" (Bass, 50). Moreover, motivations for hunting are quite varied, and range from survival, to sport, to population control. The latter of which certainly applies to hunting deer in Pennsylvania due to an alarming overpopulation. Yes, hunting allows one to immerse them self in nature, and partake in perhaps the most primal of activities, obtaining one's own food, but in certain instances, hunting is not all about thrill-seeking as most non-hunters in Pennsylvania, like myself, may believe. Most hunters are seemingly motivated by the act it self or simply immersing them self in nature, but just because hunting motivations are seemingly not rooted in sustenance, does not mean that the mass hunting of white tail deer in Pennsylvania is in vain. "When deer reach high population densities they may push into urban areas, where they can pose a threat to people because they often carry Lyme disease ticks. Deer also pose as a serious threat to drivers, causing about 34,000 accidents per year in the state of Pennsylvania" (Naturetourism.com). Hunting white tail deer, and subsequently decreasing the population in Pennsylvania also positively effects farmers, because deer "are troublesome and an annoying pest[s] to farmers and gardeners. Every year many farmers lose valuable crops to deer which results in the loss of money" (Sportales). Furthermore, the benefits of hunting white tail deer in Pennsylvania far out-weigh its negative associations. To learn more about the benefits of hunting white tail deer in Pennsylvania visit either of the websites cited in the references.

References:


1) http://sportales.com/hunting/hunting-and-its-benefits/

2) http://naturetourism.allegheny.edu/essay_deeroverpopulation.html

3) Bass, Rick. Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge / Rick Bass. San Francisco: Sierra

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3 Comments

I find this post to be very interesting. I actually am quite opposed to hunting for sport, and in Pennsylvania I had always thought that most people were hunting for the thrill of the chase, and bragging rights as to “who had gone and done caught the biggest buck” (in my best hillbilly accent). However, after reading your post, I can see the advantages in it.

I have always been the kind of person who was an “animal huger”. I was the little girl that wanted to release the lobsters from the tank at Red Lobster. I have always been against hunting wildlife, just because I find it sad. To me-the only time it was necessary was if one TRULY needed it to sustain life. In central PA, I feel that most people are well off enough to go to the local deli or Wegmans and purchase meat. While I know these animals have still been killed, for some reason, to me, it’s more humane than going into the woods and shooting Bambi so that you could have some quality deer jerky…or whatever.

However, after reading your blog, I can begin to see the benefits of hunting. I never thought of population control, nor did I think about deer bringing forth lime disease and ruining crops. I myself have had a near accident after several dear were trying to cross the road late at night. After thinking on it, perhaps hunting isn’t as bad as I thought it was. Perhaps, like many things in life, it’s a necessary evil.

I agree with your post concerning the population control of deer in Pennsylvania. I know numerous people who have wrecked cars by colliding with them. I approve of hunting deer though I don’t hunt, because the deer are quite overpopulated with very few natural predators left. Also, one could think about the animals slaughtered by factory farms and the miserable existence they must have prior to ending up on our supermarket shelves. At least the deer get to live in natural, unconfined conditions prior to being harvested. I have seen disturbing videos of how chickens are kept in massive coops where they basically peck each other’s eyes out and live in fecal squalor 24/7. I also wonder about the hormones injected into animals raised by factory farms and what happens when these chemicals go up the food chain and enter my own body.

The negative aspect from hunting seems to be that people prefer to do it with firearms, which I feel contributes to a culture of violence in the United States. I feel that pistols and assault rifles are particularly unnecessary to own and would provide no advantage hunting for food or otherwise. I feel it might be safer if we restricted the hunting of white-tail deer to bow and arrow. This would be much safer considering that arrows do not travel for miles when shot. If these hunters want a connection with nature this is about as historically close as one could get. It makes sense that mankind would still have an impulse to hunt in this day and age as this desire has sustained her through her evolutionary history.

If you choose to eat meat, it is hard to deny the advantages of eating game meat as opposed to factory farm raised animals. I have no desire to hunt, though I very much enjoy the natural atmosphere of being in the woods. It is a little bit of a drag when I am out hiking or mountain biking in Scotia and realize that I forgot to wear orange or if hear the sound of gunfire nearby. I think guns make the idea of hunting a bit unfair and can result in hunting accidents at a rate higher than a bow and arrow would. Perhaps it is just that in this culture we want to push a button and immediately receive results without concern for the greater impact of our choices. Overall though, I think the hunting of white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania is a needed public service (as long as it is done safely) and provides a better source of meat for the carnivore.

I very much enjoyed this post, and was glad to see that someone had written on the subject of deer. The white-tailed deer population in Pennsylvania is definitely much higher than it ought to be. One factor for the species’ overpopulation is the fact that white-tailed deer no longer have any natural predators here—wolves and mountain lions are effectively extinct in Pennsylvania. Without any carnivores to keep them in check, the deer have been allowed to multiply. Hunting is the only way to keep the population numbers down.

Every so often I meet people who believe that hunting is cruel or barbaric, and I always have to laugh at them. Hunting deer is the best way to keep the population at a manageable level. Should the deer remain unchecked, they pose health hazards to humans in the forms of sickness and potential car accidents. They would also overgraze and cause a lot of damage to plant populations. Eventually, without proper population management, the deer would become unhealthy and start dying in droves. Nature has ways of keeping itself in balance—often through use of predators and prey. Since humankind has eliminated the large predators here in Pennsylvania, however, it falls to us to step in and manage the prey.

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