Editorial-July 5, 2007

Deer hunt foes should offer better solution

By: Mae Rhine
   Rampant development has affected our daily lives in many ways.
   Not the least of this is the effect on wildlife habitats.
   We built so many homes, encroaching so much upon wildlife’s means of survival, we should not be surprised deer, bear, coyotes and other wildlife are affecting our crops, travel and more.
   The problem is how to share the land.
   Solebury residents are up in arms over the township’s decision to spend $250,000 and bring in Wildlife Services and its sharpshooters to cull the deer herd with high-tech rifles and night-vision equipment.
   Officials have discussed the problem for more than two years, but some residents say they weren’t informed.
   Much of the discussion was done in public, although some of it was behind closed doors because of contract negotiations with the company. Still, the topic was made public so residents have no one to blame but themselves for not knowing what was going on.
   We, too, find it upsetting these majestic creatures, including their fawns, are being killed. But those opposed need to give the township a viable solution.
   Right now, the first kill, which amounted to about 100 deer, is over, but Wildlife Services will be coming back in about two weeks.
   Solebury hired the company because the deer population is about 142 per square mile. The recommended number is seven for a suburban area and 24 in a forested area, according to Wildlife Services.
   Because of the deer, there are many motor vehicle accidents as well as crop damage in Solebury.
   Apparently, conventional hunting methods are not doing the job. And other methods, including contraception, are long-term solutions.
   Township officials felt the problem was too widespread, and the damage too immediate. For example, there are two motor vehicle accidents involving deer every three days. Crop yields are down 25 percent with deer contributing to a major portion of that. A local nursery suffered $100,000 in damage from buck rubbing, which is when deer rub and scrape their antlers along tree bark.
   Those opposed acknowledge the damage, but claim they had no chance to comment. They also oppose the killing of fawns.
   We understand their concerns and sympathize with their viewpoint. But the problem exists, and they had plenty of opportunity to make their opposition known.
   Those against the hunt need to come up with a solution that works for everyone.