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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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That is the difference between you and I David, I think that the deer herd should be kept at a level where there is not starvation and disease, and I am ok with taking some individual animals out of the herd to keep that level. You think we should just leave all of them alone and let the starvation and disease sort them out. I want herd overall health, you just want all of them to survive, even if overall they are weaker. I wonder where all of those deer watchers and people who enjoy photographing them and what not are going to do when they start starving, something tells me they are not going to be as pretty to look at. Someone should help them

Curt, You do not have the right to decide who lives or decide who dies. Each and every deer there deserves their chance to survive on their own. David Forjan "help"?, now a euphemism for killing

Curt, The question at hand is not “how” to kill the deer. You just want it to be that way. In a minute I’ll give my thought as to why you do that. I’ll say it again, for all to hear. No one has given a valid, thoughtful, fact-based, convincing analysis that these deer are a real problem. I said that 2 posts ago, and you still don’t. You should study variations in animal populations with regard to the food available. I’ve seen it here on my 272 acres for 11 years. But don’t take my word for it. Read Daniel Quinn’s (for one) explanation, and studies quoted, about how animal populations vary, DUE TO THE FOOD AVAILABLE. The less food available, the less survive. That even qualifies as “common sense.” And starvation is a natural cause of death. Seen throughout nature, for eons of time. “Survival of the fittest.” You don’t know who’ll survive or not. But YOU want to decide, like God, and rain bullets down on all these innocent, beautiful, trusting animals. And deprive each one of their right to survive on their own. As an aside, what I read, says the population of these deer in question, declined by 28% from 2003 to 2009. And last winter was a brutal winter for them. And, food availability has more of an affect on animal populations than predators. By far. I’ll give examples whenever you’re open to that one. Another flawed statement you make is that nature “intends” any one level of population. Nature don’t “intend” anything about populations. Nature is simply the “field of play” where it all plays out. And each and every animal deserves the chance to survive, on their own. Not humans making the decision who lives or dies. You’re arguments are all flawed. But I can see that don’t matter to you. You still show you don’t know what you're talking about, except for knowing how to kill. I should thank you for your posts, for highlighting that there’s no real problem with these deer. Now I’ll address my first paragraph. You just want killing to occur. Adamant about killing, in every post. You obsess about “how” do we kill. I could sum up your posts this way. How do we kill? How do we kill? How do we kill? (And TRY to consider the many people love to see the deer, up close.) I said it before, I'll say it again. I’m continually stunned by people who are vehement about killing. LIke you. You sure spend alot of your day obsessing about killing. Scary. To whomever has the final say, please, let the deer be and give the laws of nature and survival a chance to keep working. And avoid this whole disgusting discussion about killing. David Forjan

David, You are still avoiding the fact that IF it does happen, how is using coyotes a better solution than the proposed sharp shooters? You have already said that you do not believe this should happen. This particular article, where I got all of my information about this particular subject, says they need to reduce the deer population. The question now is how. What I want to know is how is Friends of Animals solution of using coyotes better to reduce the deer population than the suggested sharp shooting? Also, if we do just let this population that apparently at its carrying capacity in this area do not take any action. You are suggesting to let hunger and disease keep the population where it should be as "nature" intended. the problem with that is when these deer evolved, they had more predators in the area than just coyotes. There were wolves, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, that also helped keep the population down. Thanks to humans, most of those are not in PA anymore, so now the deer are going to eat themselves into starvation if the population continues to grow. These animals evolved without humans, humans took ALOT of habitat, now all the deer are forced into a smaller area. How is it natural to let them continue to grow to a much denser population than they were meant to be? curt

Curt, Aren’t you uncomfortable recommending/defending slaughtering all those deer without knowing any details about the Park’s statement that the “forest has not had new growth.” No new growth of anything? At all? No new red maple seedlings? And no new sugar maple seedlings? And no new silver maple seedlings? And no new oak seedlings? And no new beech seedlings? And no new white pine seedlings? And no new spruce seedlings? And no new hemlock seedlings? And no new azalea seedlings? And no new crabapple seedlings? And no new hawthorn seedlings? And no new hickory seedlings? And no new witchhazel seedlings? Or honeysuckle or grape or ash or apple or lilac or black cherry or sweet cherry or pin cherry or sumac or dogwood or aspen or nannyberry or birch? What about plants? No goldenrod? No daisies? No heal-all? No asters? No pennyroyal? No seedum? Or pokeweed or horsenettle or jewelweed or trillium or wood lily or bergamot or mint or wild basil or butterfly weed or mayflower or black-eyed susan or deptford pink or hog peanut or yarrow or partridgeberry or rose or queen anne’s lace or star flower or st. johnswort or skunk cabbage or on and on? No new ones of any of these? And these are only the ones I know by name. Multiple this list by 10, at least, for the ones I don’t know. None of these? Heck, why am I asking you? You don’t know. And that’s my point. You don’t know. You’re just taking a statement and passing it along. Worse than that, you’re making a recommendation to kill, based on something you don’t know or understand or investigate. And you’re comfortable with this. So if someone told you to buy a Yugo, you’d just say “how much”? Because the salesman does it for a living? You’re happy with thinking “they do this kind of thing for a living”. So you believe all politicians, and all doctors, and all tax assessors, and all lawyers, and all executives, and salesmen? Without asking questions? And in the face of a life or death decision? You hear some words and make a deadly puppet recommendation for 1000-2000 deer. I believe only one thing you say. I’m not going to change your mind. And I’m not trying to. I’m writing this to you so that whoever reads your post and my post knows that you don’t know what you’re talking about. That your recommendation is not based on any constructive thinking or investigation or understanding on your part. That you don’t delve into any details about what you base a decision on. You may want to talk about “how” it’s going to happen. But you didn’t take the time to consider “if” it should happen. You’re skipping ahead. Carelessly. Deer cannot destroy a forest. You just want to pretend they can. What's your real motivation here? It sure isn't truth. David Forjan

Dave At this point the reason that the deer herd is being culled has already been figured out by biologists and people that do this kind of thing for a living. The forest has not had new growth since 1995, the deer are not going to take down the trees that are there, but these biologists seen to think that the deer herd is going to do damage. I mean, what do they know, they’re just biologists. Either way, this article is not about why the deer population should be reduced, that has already been established. What we are talking about now is HOW it’s going to happen. Friends of Animals thinks that people should let the coyotes “serve as a natural form of animal control” and in theory it would work. However, to decrease the number of coyotes trapped in the state of PA for the sake of this 5.3 acres I believe does not make sense to me. Again this is one thing you and I are never going to agree on. The fact of the matter is that people would rather have the herd culled fast and cleanly as possible, that does mean that deer are going to get shot, I know that you are against that but it may be the simplest solution for this problem, whether or not it is a problem is a whole different argument that I am sure that the Friends of Animals has been having much longer than I have been following this story. I mean no disrespect, and I know I am not going to change your mind, and the odds are pretty good that you aren’t going to change mine. This is just interesting for me because of my very different opinions. Sincerely Curt

Someone on the web team must have been concerned about spam and taken off Curt's address, David. I can send it to you, as Curt wanted you to have it. I'll do this now.

Curt, I’ll gladly respond. But since I don’t have much time tonight, I’ll address one of your questions, the matter at hand. The killing of 2000 deer, over 4 years, at the Valley Forge National Park. I have not heard one valid argument as to why this population of deer is a “problem”. First, deer will not destroy a forest. They don’t eat every kind of plant or tree. Many plants and trees will still grow just fine. Second, we all should drive attentively. So that we don’t hit others’ dogs, others’ cats, others’ children, walkers or bicyclists and on and on. It then takes no extra effort to spot a deer in the road, use our brakes, and avoid it. Third. This is the most self-centered of all. Because they eat our flowers. I’ll wager a year’s pay that most of those flowers are invasive, non-native, plants. Shoot 2000 deer because they eat some begonias? And, many of these plant owners may very well enjoy seeing those deer in their yard. I do. Fourth, crop damage. I live next to a dairy farming family. And I know they work very hard. But each of their 5 children had their own 4-wheeler, from when they were SIX years old, continuing to this day. They all drive newer vehicles. New homes. So where’s this supposed great impact on their revenue from all our deer eating their corn? So just exactly what is this problem with the deer I keep hearing about? NO ONE PRESENTS A VALID, THOUGHTFUL, FACT-BASED, CONVINCING ANALYSIS THAT THESE DEER ARE A REAL PROBLEM. Let alone take into account the many people who like them deer. And you ask, what about hunters hunting them? A real hunter, a real ADULT, would not, and should not, find satisfaction in shooting an animal that will graze right next to you, that trusts you. These deer grew up around people. I saw one, 10 feet from the road, grazing, with people walking by, running by, bicycling by. Complete trust of humans. So, your argument would suggest that a real hunter adult, would be fulfilled, if you put a deer in a cage, and said now you can hunt. This one in the cage. Your give an “opinion” about the deer being taken to a lower level to keep in balance with the rest of the wildlife around the area. Where’s the analysis that supports this? Have you counted the rest of the wildlife there? What’s a proper balance? Are there alot of rabbits? What real problem do they cause? You also show here, that we humans’ think we know it all, or jump to conclusions. Give me an opinion, with the appropriate facts and analysis and reasoning, that holds water. Until then, don’t advocate killing 2000 beautiful, trusting, innocent deer. Especially when many people, WHO GO TO THE PARK, like them there. David Forjan BTW, what happened to your first version of this post, that had your email address?

David, I was actually thinking about this conversation when I was sitting in my treestand this weekend and I started to wonder when people became so disconnected with nature that we are no longer a part of the food chain. Now I came on this point when I misread your “brutal, senseless, violent act, on an innocent beautiful creature” quote to be talking about what I did all weekend, but rereading it I was wrong. When however did people quit being a part of the food chain, when you hunt an animal, kill it and eat it? How is that so much different from a coyote? I am not saying that I know that this is or that it is your opinion on hunting in general aside from the culling of the heard at valley forge but there are people, especially in organizations like the one you are representing, that believe that taking what we are going to use out of the wild and enjoying it on the dinner table is such a terrible thing it brings tears to their eyes. I don’t have much more to say about this topic, from what I have read everyone has pretty much beat both sides to death (the extremes of both sides at that). I was just wondering how you would feel about an organized hunt as an alternative of bringing sharp shooters in? Not only would it reduce the deer population like myself and others believe needs to be done, it would get people out into nature, it would also bring more of a respect for nature than the removing a large number at once. This solution may not be swift enough to accomplish what it needs to according to the article, deer are smart and good at not getting into trouble, I was humbled this weekend, and the sharpshooters would definitely be more effective in lowering the population. I don’t know the science but that’s what I got for the solution you asked for, the reason I said that deer numbers had to be “taken down” in my last post was because without the natural predators that these deer had in the past, their numbers have exploded to a number that is damaging to the deer herd and the forest around it. My opinion is that the herd should be taken to a lower level to keep it in balance with the rest of the wildlife around the area. I am from Michigan where we have always had a hunting season as long as I can remember and it along with being part of our heritage helps to control like someone mentioned car accidents caused by deer, crop damage (which is not an issue in this case but it is very important where I come from) and the TB problem that we are dealing with up north. Curt

Ginger, Bless your heart. David


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