We respectfully ask that the Carrboro Board of Aldermen remove Ecosystem Recommendation #2, the deer-killing program, from the Community Climate Action Plan.
The Carrboro Energy and Climate Protection Task Force released its Community Climate Action Plan on November 4, 2015, which was presented to the Board of Aldermen on November 10, 2015. Among their many recommendations, the Task Force presented “Ecosystem Recommendation #2: Pursue Deer Herd Management…through culling.”
“Excess deer” (whatever that means) are not the primary cause of decreasing plant diversity and spreading of exotic species.According to a review in the journal Science, “For terrestrial ecosystems, land-use change probably will have the largest effect, followed by climate change, nitrogen deposition, biotic exchange, and elevated carbon dioxide concentration.” In other words, humans are the primary cause of a decrease in plant diversity and the spreading of exotic species.
The Task Force has failed to prove that Carrboro is an area with deer overpopulation, or that such overpopulation is the cause of the spread of exotic species. Deer and other large wild animals rarely exceed their biological carrying capacity. If there is not enough food available to support the population, the weaker individuals will die and the does will absorb some embryos and fewer fawns will be born in the spring. Further, humans, not deer, are making the purchasing and planting decisions that are the major reason for the spread of invasive species.
Wildlife management is code for recreational hunting. According to In Defense of Animals, “Wildlife management, population control and wildlife conservation are euphemisms for killing–hunting, trapping and fishing for fun. A percentage of the wild animal population is specifically mandated to be killed. Hunters want us to believe that killing animals equals population control equals conservation, when in fact hunting causes overpopulation of deer, the hunters’ preferred victim species, destroys animal families, and leads to ecological disruption as well as skewed population dynamics.”
Deer killing does not reduce deer population. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Deer kills do not keep deer numbers down. Deer are highly prolific, and their high reproductive rate can quickly compensate for declines in their population. When deer numbers are reduced after killing programs, the remaining female deer will often respond to greater food abundance by giving birth to twins or triplets. Fawns also have higher survival rates and earlier onset of sexual maturity. The end result is a quick ‘bounce-back’ in numbers.”
The deer-killing program in neighboring Chapel Hill has failed to reduce the deer population there, even after 60 deer were killed over 5 years. In fact, it’s likely that there are now more deer in Chapel Hill.
Deer hunting is cruel. According to In Defense of Animals, “Bow hunting is, next to trapping, the cruelest way of killing animals. A report summarizing 24 studies of bow hunting demonstrated that there is little chance that deer die instantly when struck, but more typically bow hunters take an average of 14 shots (!) to kill an animal, and there is a 54% wounding and crippling rate. For every deer killed and dragged out of the woods, another one is wounded and runs off only to die hours, days or even weeks later, all the while in pain, defenseless against further attacks by natural predators.”
Carrboro has rejected two other deer-killing proposals as unsafe and unsuitable for a densely populated urban area. According to the organization Safe Backyards, “While it is true that accidents with bows and arrows are less common than other forms of hunting, they do happen… Most go unreported, as people remove errant arrows from their yards, homes, garages, etc., without notifying the authorities. There are also deliberate killings with bows and arrows. It’s the prosecutions of these crimes that are rare.”
The NC Wildlife Commission has no interest in reducing deer populations in Carrboro or anywhere else. Their mission is to “provide programs and opportunities that allow hunters, anglers, boaters; other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy wildlife-associated recreation.” In other words, they exist to provide humans the opportunity to kill for fun.
Submitting a letter of intent to participate in the Urban Archery Season abdicates control to the state. The recommendation “that the Town consider submitting a letter of intent to participate in the Urban Archery Season program of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission” is particularly troublesome, as this “letter of intent” ruse was exactly how the neighboring town of Chapel Hill was duped into implementing a deer killing program without the express consent of the Council, and before the public had a chance to address the issue.
Killing deer does not improve the health of the herd. “Improved health” when applied to free-living animals is hunter-speak for improved fertility. It creates more animals, not fewer, which is exactly the opposite of the stated goal of the task force.
Killing deer does not decrease deer-vehicle collisions. According to Erie Insurance Company, the number of deer-vehicle collisions actually rises “nearly five times on the first day of buck season and doe season.” And according to the Missouri Insurance Information Service, increased deer activity associated with hunting is a “major factor” in the rise in deer-vehicle collisions in the last three months of the year.”
For more information and references, please visit Friends of North Carolina Wildlife.
Bow hunters make up only 1.4% of the population of the United States (94% of all hunters are white, and 84% of bow hunters are men). We suspect that the number in Carrboro is even lower. Carrboro is a town that values peace, justice, and non-violence. We ask that the Board of Aldermen consider these values and remove this violent, unjust recommendation from the Community Climate Action Plan.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this matter.