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Friends of Animals of Pennsylvania and CARE Hit the Street to Oppose Lower Merion Township's Deer Kill

December 15, 2009 | Deer

Ardmore, PA, US -- Members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Friends of Animals (FoA-PA) and the West Chester based group Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Environment (CARE) will be visible on the Main Line today, publicly opposing the Township's decision to kill white-tailed deer.

The opposition will be visible from 2:30 pm until 4:00 pm today in front of the Township Administration Building, adjacent to the large Main Line Honda dealership on East Lancaster Avenue (Route 30), Ardmore, PA 19003.

Agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been asked by the Township to reduce the deer populations from a number in the range of 44 to 58 deer per square mile down to only 6 to 10 per mile. Township officials claim the killing is necessary to protect residents and visitors from Lyme disease and vehicle accidents with deer, and to reduce the effects of browsing.

"Bringing sharpshooters to suburban Philadelphia isn't the right answer," said Secretary of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Friends of Animals Matthew McLaughlin. "Deer are conscious beings, with communities and social ties, and they are part of a bigger balance. We need to teach our children to respect nature and the animals living in our midst. Moreover, killing them causes them to rebound; we know what this cycle looks like."

McLaughlin said ticks would find other hosts in the absence of deer "“ such as family pets.

The killing began last month, from the 16th until the 19th, when Friends of Animals and CARE opposed it publicly. A second spate of killing began yesterday and is expected to continue through the 17th of December, when Lower Merion Township plans to evaluate the effects of the killing.

Notably, even in areas where Lyme disease is endemic, upwards of 70-80 percent of the ticks are not infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infection Diseases, the actual risk of becoming infected after being bitten by a tick in a Lyme disease endemic area is estimated to be only 1.4 percent.

The Township's Special Use Permit from the Pennsylvania Game Commission allows the Township to carry out the killings from November 2009 through September 2010. But FoA-PA and CARE believe it is possible for human beings and white-tailed deer to peacefully co-exist, and points out that they already do so. The groups ask their members and others to protest.


I'm interested in knowing why at Valley Forge National Park and Lower Merion Township the discussion of how to address deer-related issues is limited to shooting and sterilization. If there is a concern about deer grazing and its effects on birds and local ecology, why not plant those types of trees, shrubs, etc. that deer are least likely to browse? In areas where deer graze, why not place deer guards around the trees deer prefer to browse in order to preserve them? It is correct that the woods are not full of fairy tale creatures. Living in the woods of Pennsylvania are many conscious beings. Some of those conscious beings are deer, and they are deserving of our respect.

The reasons the township stated are valid concerns - and the solution was just as well. Deer are food - the majority of hunters kill to feed their families. What about overpopulation? There are too many deer as there is. 50 deer per square mile? There isn't enough food to sustain that population! What happens when the deer go to look for more foor? They get hit by cars! Which death is more humane? And don't reply, "no death". The fact is the deer's population needs to be culled. So great job there, Sparky. You are very uninformed, or you just don't care about people.

Dear Miller: The solution was just? "Just" is an odd word for this. This amounts to a war on a group of beings who are just going about their business. If there weren't enough food to sustain that population, it wouldn't exist. Let 'em be.

The pro-kill camp engages in something called gamesmanship, according to a respected ecologist. They continue to regurgitate ad nauseum the same tired rationale supporting their bogus agenda. Before a shot was ever fired they used verbal weaponry to convince the public that deer were enemy number one and must be killed knowing full well they'd buy it; they did. The public has been sold a bill of goods and deer have been railroaded.

Destroyed most of the forests?... FoA comments: Yes, North America once had its own rain forests. They are almost all gone now. Since 1620, 90% of the forests in the lower 48 states have been destroyed.

Animals that have no voice. I am screaming out loud for them, just leave them alone...... If you want to support a cause go help a street person that has no place to live versus deer feeding on what is natural and what it not natural, is man's inhumanity to man....

Having studied environmental sciences since first being introduced to the subject as a Scout in the early 1960s, I am dismayed by the Friends of Animals Pennsylvania approach to the deer population problem. Ecosystems seek balance. Man eradicates predators (wolves) and so herbivores (deer) overpopulate, destroying the ecological balance. The argument presented above (“If there weren’t enough food to sustain that population, it wouldn’t exist.”) dangerously ignores starvation risk to the deer, as occurred in my native central New York in the late 70s (over 7,000 deer died of starvation in one winter). For humans, there was a stock bubble, and then a real estate bubble. Ecologically, we are now in a deer bubble. Do you want a measured reduction or a catastrophic break? Of greater concern to me is the Friends of Animals Pennsylvania’s willingness to sacrifice other species for deer. This issue isn’t about what Man is doing to deer, it is about what deer are doing to the ecosystem. Dozens of bird species are falling victim to the overgrazing of the deer, and that does not begin to tally the damage to shrubs and forests. Why give a voice to deer, who have a burgeoning population, and none to the birds who have had their habitat decimated? The deer have eaten all the small and intermediate growth. The birds are disappearing now; the local forests will be gone in fifty years or so. Perhaps the organization will consider changing its name to Friends of Deer, Enemy of Birds and Flora.

Paul Sachs: Thank you for expressing your opinion. Pennsylvania is actually home to natural predators of deer. Unfortunately, bobcats and coyotes are subject to hunting in the state; coyotes, who present a viable check to deer, are treated as vermin. Pennsylvania can't have it both ways. Say the deer need to be checked, yet promote the eradication of the very animal communities that do check the deer? That's disingenuous. Friends of Animals members and supporters make the case for respecting the entire range of animals as well as the flora needed to sustain them.

The most humane method for removing excess deer within the city limits and the safest for the public in that city is game capture. Deer can be humanely captured and transported out of the city with little or no harm to to the animals.

Hello Trey, Your interest in finding humane ways to address Lower Merion Townships concerns about the deer is much appreciated. However, capturing and relocating white-tailed deer who live there is neither a practical solution nor a humane one. In the report prepared for Lower Merion Township by the US Department of Agriculture, the USDA stated that capturing and relocating the deer was not an option because in Pennsylvania this practice is illegal. Also, the USDA report mentioned that capture and relocation is expensive. Other reports of deer management strategies have estimated costs ranging from $400 to $3,000 for the capture and relocation of each deer. The report also stated that there are a very limited number of sites where the deer could be relocated to. Given the number of communities that have promoted deer kills in the US (e.g. Lower Merion Township, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, Ithaca NY, Poughkeepsie NY, Passaic County NJ) there are not many places that would be willing to accept these deer if they were to be captured. Capture and relocation is not humane, in that a great many of the deer will die in the process of being capture and released into a new location. Reports prepared for both Connecticut and Michigan, who have similar deer issues to Pennsylvania, have argued against capture and relocation -- in part, because the mortality rate of this deer management method is so high. Although deer do die in the process of being captured, the death rate is much higher once the deer are released into their new location. In addition to these logistical concerns, there is also the moral question of why it is the deer who must be relocated. Many of the issues that communities have with deer are couched in terms that make deer to be the problem. For example, when Lower Merion Township speaks about automobile accidents with deer, it refers to them as "deer-vehicle collisions" which makes it sound as if it is the deer who hits the car, when in fact it is the car that hits the deer. Such language reinforces the notion that deer are intruding into human society. The deer have a right to exist just as the human persons in these communities do. There is no need to relocate the deer. Instead, there is a desperate need for concerned people to devise peacefully strategies of coexisting with the deer.


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