Some animals have survived the destruction of habitat and other changes associated with urban sprawl by adapting to city dwelling. Living in close proximity with wild animals increases the likelihood of encountering animals in our neighborhoods, or even homes in search of food and shelter. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), both native to North America, are among those animals that feel very comfortable in cities and towns because of lawns, flowerbeds, shrubs and other vegetation in parks offer an abundance of food sources, plus urban settings provide shelter and protection from carnivores.
Historical stocking and breeding programs by state wildlife agencies and hunting clubs, provide “more deer for the guns,” as well as near extermination of carnivores such as mountain lions and wolves, and other more contemporary hunting practices, have contributed to current high numbers of deer trying to grind out a living in cities. For decades, hunters were allowed to kill primarily bucks to display trophy heads. This allowed the population to escalate abnormally as one male can impregnate many females. State agencies have finally acknowledged this and as part of their ‘Earn a Buck’ Program,’ now increase the number of females while limiting the number of bucks that hunters can kill.
Killing deer as the default way for conflict solutions
The networking between state wildlife agencies, other governmental agencies and hunting clubs—often referred to as the “good ‘ol boys club”— with their preference of killing as the management method of choice , is the reason why public disapproval of these measures, rarely succeeds in educating public officials about existing humane, nonlethal methods for solving conflicts between wild animals and humans.
The traditional “solution” for these conflicts such as deer/car collisions, property and vegetation damage, and perceived safety threat, is to kill these innocent and elegant animals through organized bow hunts, sharpshooting events, netting & bolting, and allowing hunters to mercilessly gun down these unsuspecting animals, whether mother, father or fawns.
What hunters and state wildlife agencies authorizing urban massacres on deer don’t want to admit though is the fact that hunting has failed to control deer populations; in the words of Dr. Allen Rutberg, “The most visible weakness in the assertion that hunting is necessary to control deer population is that it has largely failed to do so over the last two decades.” Exemplified by tables showing the so-called deer ‘harvest” between 1973 and 1993 in 26 of 29 states surveyed prove that the number of deer killed by hunters has tripled over the course of 20 years, and may have undergone a five-fold population increase in recent years – and this in light of aggressive state hunting management plans. “Just because deer are being killed doesn’t t mean that deer populations are being controlled.”