As a resident of Chestnut Hill I am shocked ad saddened by the recent killing of white tailed deer in the Wissahickon Valley.
Nature ensures that deer populations are limited by available food, territory and winter weather conditions, which restrict both food and range. As the size of the deer community increases, there is less food and leafy shelter available for each deer. Numerous studies over the years have shown that both the reproductive rate and the survival rate of deer will then decrease. Thus, a natural balance will occur.
There’s a biological reason why hunting can cause the numbers to rise. In large populations, deer conceive later in the season, and that results in late-born fawns with a reduced chance of surviving through the winter. So, although hunting reduced the population in the immediate sense, it stimulates early reproduction and augments the changes for survival in the next generation. Hunting- whether it’s focused on female or male deer- will mean more food remains for the survivors. The natural response in deer, biologists explain, is an increase in the birth rate.
Often deer are blamed for deforestation when the major cause is the human population, particularly agribusiness. Supporting plans to kill off deer won’t solve the deforestation problem, but adopting a vegetarian diet will help. This is because an acre of land dedicated to vegetables will normally support well over ten times the protein yield as an acre allotted to cattle grazing. Deforestation is a serious issue; we should be taking it seriously by addressing its key causes. In addition with many of our fellow humans taking over land for building homes, the deer are driven closer to homes and roads in the neighborhood in order to survive.
Why is such an inhumane, unnatural event of killing deer continue to occur in our neighborhood year after year? I consider myself fortunate to live near the park and welcome the deer to my garden, where I have planted deer safe plants.
I welcome your thoughts on this important issue. Can Chestnut Hill target this “deer culling” as an issue to address with our Mayor, legislators and other? You can get more information at friendsofanimals.org.
by Mary Ann Baron
Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer