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Let coyotes, not hunters, control Valley Forge deer, animal-rights advocates say

October 18, 2010 | Deer

By Jeff Gammage
Inquirer Staff Writer

Deer graze in Valley Forge Park...

For months they've run on the periphery of the debate over the plan to shoot deer at Valley Forge national park: Coyotes.

A small number have taken residence inside the park, among the "urban coyotes" that dwell in places from New York to Chicago to Beverly Hills, Calif.

Now, animal-rights advocates are arguing that the number of coyotes in Valley Forge should be encouraged to grow, as a way to provide a predatory check on the deer and eliminate any cause for gunfire.

"It would serve as a natural form of population control," said Matthew McLaughlin, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Friends of Animals.

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David Forjan, Let me begin with Curt's 2 cents were refreshing. You, Mr. Forjan seem to to prefer rhetoric and reminding us of the brutality of the cruel world, but let's get back to the animals... Clearly, you enjoy the outdoors and your land. I greatly appreciate that. But, if you and your brethren choose do nothing about the massive infestation of deer, there will be none of that for future generations to enjoy as you do! A deer herd can be reduced and in a matter of a few years will regenerate. The damage they do the forest, takes decades. I have to say the sharpshooter method is quick and painless. Although it may be natural to be disemboweled by a pack of wild canids, I'd rather never know what hit me. You seem to be far better equipped than the rest of the human population to deal with the deer. You seem to be implying that the victims of deer vehicle collisions are at fault. Do you know how many people die in DVC's each year? The numbers tend to be staggering. I hate to think those people caused their own death by not being as aware as you (and I would apparently hate to drive behind you!). And Cesar Milan has nothing on you and your canine companions. Why, it seems you have an "Einstein" from Watchers in the living, breathing flesh! You believe that coyotes are completely harmless. I'm sure the families of Kelly Keen and Taylor Mitchell would argue that fact. You will say fatalities are rare, and you'll be right. But habituated predators are nothing to ignore, and at the rate our wilderness is declining, it's only going downhill from here. I have to ask, do you have any formal education in the wildlife field? Someone (educated, respected, and experienced for your information) in MY field once said "I would rather walk into a grizzly den unarmed than try to sell deer management to the public in Pennsylvania", and I am quite sure people like you are the reason. Yes, coyotes and black bears both kill fawns, and adult deer if the conditions are right. That being said, the small amount of natural predation happening will not solve the deer problem. Even if we had an established cougar or wolf population, the deer herds need to be reduced. I'm terribly sorry if Bambi scarred you as a child and you are still walking around in wide-eyed innocence. No matter how you slice it, deer management is a necessary evil.

Predation is good to a point. Likewise sometimes a lack of or minimal predation is good when the prey stocks are low. Overpopulation by any species is detrimental to themselves and other species in that environment. I'm a predator. I compete with other predators. Why am I not as good as a coyote (wolf, cougar).? How are unreasoned random acts of nature somehow (always in anti-hunting views), superior to science-based planned wildlife management acts?

Dear Curt, Thanks for that 2 cents. You are obviously a thoughtful person. I like that. I won't belabor any one point. We can't expect to make our world free of danger, from any human or any animal. Danger is everywhere. I myself had my two canine kids living here on this land for 11 years of their lives. I was always aware of the danger of coyote to them. On Long Island, my sister-in-law's biggest fear for her pets is the insecticides/pesticides neighbors put on their lawns (only 50 feet away). My point is we cannot purify life of danger. Especially when the biggest dangers come from human endeavors. I'm not saying put coyotes in the park. I would say, though, that the state of PA allows too many coyotes to be killed wantonly (and they and the wolves were here first, before us, I might add). And monitor our pets safety for all reasons. My canine kids learned, by me teaching them, the words "coyote" and "careful", and me drumming those words into their minds, to avoid the danger of coyotes. My girl dog actually survived one coyotes attempt to ambush her in the thickets. Because I taught her thats' where to be "careful of coyote". I was so proud of her. If we'd lived down by the road, I'd have had to teach them about all the human oriented dangers. And there are lots of those. There's danger everywhere. Every day. My actual recommendation is this. Let the animals be. Too many deer being a pain in the butt to you, are a beauty and treasure to someone else. The deer population will take care of itself. If they eat too much, fewer will survive. If there's a hard winter, fewer will survive. While we're driving, we need to be attentive, for others' dogs and children, and then it takes no extra effort to spot that deer. I must admit you are somewhat dichotomous. You speak so thrilled about nature, and yet you can refer to killing beautiful animals as they need to "immediately be taken down". Sorry, but that's a disturbing way to refer to such a brutal, senseless, violent act, on an innocent beautiful creature. I also wonder how you come to the conclusion that this deer population needs any action at all, let alone immediately. Please remember, deer cannot destroy a forest. They can only affect what grows and what doesn't grow. They don't eat every kind of plant and tree. One more point. You say "it is not all about killing things". Then put in your 2 cents with respect to a solution that does not require such a senseless, immediate killing. I appreciate your time responding, regardless of our positions. We only come to understanding through dialogue. And any correct solution requires that understanding. I can tell I would enjoy talking with you more. Feel free to call me anytime, 607-427-9131. We at least have in common that we enjoy the forest. Regards, David Forjan

Dave, You do realize that humans introducing coyotes into this area are humans indirectly trying to manage the deer population. You say no human can comprehend the intricacies of nature, why would you think that your solution is better than the proposed faster acting more effective solution? I agree with you that coyotes are a very effective predator and that they can take down a full grown deer but a concern for quite a few people is the fact that they are also a very effective predator for dogs, cats, chickens and whatever else looks tasty to them at the time. I also live on some land that has both coyotes and deer, and I have had a dog lose a fight with a coyote, right on the edge of my yard. You were 100% right when you said that coyotes know to avoid humans the issue becomes when the coyotes become the overpopulated species because of the abundant food and area in the park for them. Then we are going to have to take action to control the coyote population, and they do not have an effective predator. Another issue with doing this is that the deer population is already out of control and needs to immediately be taken down. Coyotes would not control this population fast or effectively as hunting them would. Like lee said there is no hunting season in Valley Forge which is what led to the out of control deer population. That being said, I am a hunter so I am biased just like you are. I find that hunting is by far the best way for me to connect to nature; I might get 1 or 2 deer a year and I spend hundreds of hours in the woods every fall. I have such a strong respect for deer and nature I love watching them learning everything I can about. It’s almost an obsession of mine. Contrary to anti-hunter’s belief it is not all about killing things I guess I should tell you to speak only of what you know. Just thought I’d put my 2 cents in

Are there any more protest planned? I would like to be involved. When is this supposed to begin and is there anything that the courts can do to stop it?

Thanks Dave for your wonderful comments on the coyotes! Your experience with these animals is a testament to the fact that they do not pose a threat to us.

To Chris w., No one should try to do "wildlife management" except the wildlife themselves. No human is capable of comprehending all the intricacies of nature. That's the point of stopping the Park incompetents from this slaughter. Coyotes can and will kill and eat young deer as individuals, and a pack can and will bring down an adult deer. Speak only of what you know. To Jack H., You also should only speak of what you know. I live with the deer and coyotes in the middle of 272 forever wild acres. I see what the coyotes can do. They are a VERY effective predator. From where do you get your opinion? Read my note to Chris w. to understand how they hunt and survive. And, more importantly, when they see a human, they run like the dickens. They know to avoid us. To Dave Reimann, First, would you yourself rather have the opportunity to feed yourself, and MAYBE die of starvation? And, by the way, starvation IS a natural cause of death in the real world. And decaying bodies will not hurt anyone. I've come upon them dozens of times in my walks around my 272 acres, and I'm still alive and kicking, without illness. Where do you get your information on such things? And as far as how to treat animals goes, remember that lesson we learned as kids, and promptly forgot as adults, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." One more thought: you should really consider how we humans treat everyone, not just animals. We humans treat other humans appallingly. So does that mean that we should treat every single being that way? Please think on this. And to all of you, please remember this. The animal you should really fear, the animal that causes you the most pain, the most injury, the most illness, the most grief, by far, every day, is the human animal. The political animals, the corporate executive animals, the Wall Street animals, the taxing animals, the car-driving animals, the management animals, the polluting animals, the drug-peddling animals, the physical and sexual abusing animals. Point your finger at them. They are the greatest danger to your health and safety and security, by far. Thanks for listening. David Forjan

Friends of animals is a complete joke! Since when are animals treated as humans??? Without hunting of these animals they will overpopulate and die of unnatural starvation! This will lead to disease of other animals as well as people from the decaying bodies! Why not feed a small army of people with the seasonal hunting laws that are in place for a reason?! Idiots!

Dave: There is no hunting in Valley Forge National Historical Park. It is entirely sensible to have that policy maintained.

Coyote although preditors prefer smaller game over deer and would be woefully inadequate to control the deer population and detrimental to the local pet populations. That's why animal rights activists should not be trying to do wilodlife management they don't have a clue.


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