Deer Management Misunderstanding
Reading the Sunday comics is something my entire family looks forward to every week. However, I recently read one comic strip that not only lacked humor but illuminated the misunderstanding some folks—mostly non-hunters—have about deer management.
This “Non Sequitur” strip by Wiley Miller shows a herd of deer cornered in a small patch of woods near a man-made brick wall. Hunters in the background are pursuing the deer with rifles while one deer remarks, “Let me get this straight…It’s our herd that needs to be ‘thinned’?” The majority of the background shows a dark, grim urban area with many a smokestack spewing forth gunk into the air.
While hunters and non-hunters alike share an appreciation for clean air and conservation, I don’t think that is where the hair gets rubbed with this comic strip.
The first implication, clearly, is that the comic suggests humans are overpopulated and consequently hypocritical in suggesting that we thin out the deer populations in urban and suburban areas. I shudder to think what the author is advocating—that we support our local war?
The second implication is that the deer really don’t need thinned out; instead, it’s our skewed human perspective and lack of self-awareness.
Hunters should visit respectfully with non-hunters about the importance of deer management. Obviously, Miller does not understand the importance of managing the numbers of deer herds in critical areas.
Deer are so much more likely to spread diseases and live unhealthy lifestyles if overcrowded and overpopulated—whether in a suburban or urban woodlot on a small scale or as on a state-wide basis.
Overpopulated deer can damage crops and hurt farmers’ bottom lines, harm gardens and domestic plants and overrun the natural habitat. Furthermore, they can damage other species’ habitat, and they destroy small trees, preventing the regeneration of the woods.
Many states, including Kansas, have taken steps to control effectively the populations. Antlerless seasons, extended seasons and special hunts in key, overpopulated areas in Kansas are all special efforts to maintain a healthy balance.
Of course, it is all about balance. Do humans contribute to the lack of equilibrium in certain areas? Sure.
But the answer to reestablishing a healthy balance of deer populations is to allow more hunting—with specific, sensible regulations.
In Kansas, the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism allows only bow hunters in overcrowded urban areas, not those with high powered rifles as depicted in “Non Sequitur.”
Whitetail hunting is more popular than ever, and the population of whitetail deer has been made extremely abundant in the last 50 years, thanks in large part to the wildlife habitat efforts made possible by our Wildlife and Parks officials through the purchase of—believe it or not—hunting licenses. Yes, a portion of all license sales goes directly to maintaining and improving the beautiful habitat that deer, hunters and radical environmentalists all love.
To be sure, humans have their own issues, but I’m not about to argue that we’re overpopulated. However, the humane thing to do for deer is to manage them by hunting and by studying the results to maintain as healthy balance as possible.
Miller reaches a lot of people every week. How many can you reach?