Practical Issues > Fishing & Hunting > Hunting - Index

Hunting Realities
by New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance

Introduction

There are many different species of animals that are hunted, but the most well-known and controversial is the white-tailed deer.

There are many misconceptions and untruths surrounding this issue. The purpose of this brochure is to answer many of the important questions regarding deer and hunting in New Jersey.

Most of the information cited here comes directly from the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, (Fish and Game). For over 100 years, Fish and Game have had complete authority over our wildlife. Along with the Fish and Game council, they create the hunting seasons, and decide how many animals should be killed. While Fish and Game continues to publicly push hunting as an effective tool in reducing deer populations, a detailed examination of their own records and reports confirms that not only does hunting not reduce deer populations, it, in fact, increases them. To understand this paradox, one must first realize their motives. Fish and Game, and the Fish and Game council are controlled and run by hunters. The salaries of Fish and Game employees are paid for by the sale of hunting licenses. Fish and Game must sell over $9,000,000 worth of hunting licenses just to cover their salaries and benefits. It is for this reason that they must ensure that there is an abundant supply of animals for hunters to kill.

This is the tragedy of it all, the very organization that should be protecting our wildlife makes its money from their slaughter.

Fish and Game clearly stated their purpose and the role or our wildlife, in their 1990 report titled An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey.

"Deer were re-established in New Jersey by sportsmen-conservationists for the purpose of sport hunting. Since that 'restocking period' the responsible agency (now the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife) has been managing the deer resource for this purpose." (pg.7)

"As stated earlier, the deer resource has been managed primarily for the purpose of sport hunting." (pg.8)

Even hunters question Fish and Game's vested interests. In his column, Howard Brant, the hunting writer for the Star-Ledger newspaper, pointed to the profit Fish and Game makes on special permit hunts.
"Therefore, from this corner, we really have to ask one question: Is the Division of Fish and Game truly interested in managing our deer herd or merely in the money the permit system generates? Remember, each permit costs $20, and a bit of simple arithmetic reveals in 1992-93 some $1.8 million will be funneled into the division's coffers as a result of this money making scheme." (4/7/92 pg.76)

Deer Biology and the Effect of Deer Hunting

One might question, if Fish and Game were ardently pushing hunting just to sell licenses, wouldn't they run out of deer to hunt? This reasoning would make sense, if what we've been told (that hunting reduces deer populations) were true. The simple fact is hunting increases deer populations. This information is common knowledge among the scientific community and within the ranks of the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife. Fish and Game is in the business of keeping New Jersey's deer population abundant, and hunting is the means through which that goal is carried out.

Without hunting, deer populations stabilize themselves based upon the amount of food and water present, land available, and natural mortalities. When conditions are bad, deer respond with decreased pregnancies, and death among the weakest members. Within these conditions, there is no increase in the size of the population. The herd remains stable and healthy. This is how nature regulates wild animal populations. However, when hunting is introduced to a stable deer herd, everything is thrown out of balance. When a large number of deer is removed from a herd, competition for food, water, space and breeding opportunities is reduced. The reaction of the herd, to the sudden kill, is increased breeding. With plenty of food to go around, more does are likely to get pregnant, and twin and triplet births often occur. This added nutrition will also allow new born fawns to gain enough weight by the time they are 6 months old to become pregnant. Normally, they would wait 2 to 3 years. This new, high birth rate not only replaces those that were killed, but it adds significantly to the size of the total population. The natural processes of deer herds and the disturbance of these processes caused by hunting is documented in The Natural History of Deer.

"We noted in chapter 5 that most deer populations appear to respond to increasing density by a reduction in fecundity and an increase in mortality (particularly the mortality of juveniles withstanding their first harsh season of shortage: the temperate winter or the tropical dry season)."

"Ultimately rates of reproduction and rates of mortality or emigration will reach a balance, so that the net rate of increase within the population becomes zero and the population numbers stabilize at some equilibrium level determined by the availability of environmental resources. Within such populations, exploitation acts to reduce numbers. In so doing, it brings the population once more below the level at which it is limited by environmental resources: effectively releasing the density-dependent brake on population growth. Reproduction increases, juvenile mortality falls, and the whole population age structure shifts towards the young animals, which have a faster growth rate and higher efficiency of food conversion. Productivity of the population rises. " (Putman, pg.169)

"This increased productivity of a population under exploitation is now well documented (e.g. Wact, 1955; Silliman and Gutsell, 1958; Gulland, 1962; and see also Eltringham 1984) The exploitation, by reducing density, lessens competition and enhances productivity: producing the surplus that is then harvested, and producing thus a sustainable yield. Exploitation is now creaming off interest on the capital, rather then eroding the capital itself." (Putman, pg.170)

"In our discussions of management, for control or exploitation, we have repeatedly stressed that most natural populations respond to reduction in numbers by increased productivity." (Putman, pg.174)

Despite the claim by the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, that hunting reduces deer herd populations, statements acknowledging the contrary are contained within their own report. In An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, detailed examples of deer herds being dramatically increased due to hunting are documented.
"One of the most dramatic examples of the effect of habitat improvement or food availability on reproductive capacity occurred in the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot in Monmouth County. Range conditions improved in this case by an annual removal of deer by hunting."

"Between 1968 and 1973 the reproductive rate almost doubled, an indication that the herd was in much healthier condition. The estimated fawn crop in 1969 was 116 fawns produced by 122 females, a reproductive rate of 0.95 fawns per doe, compared to 1974 when 78 does produced 133 fawns, or 1.70 fawns per doe (Burke et al. 1975). Between 1968 and 1980 the number of corpora lutea (cl) nearly tripled from 0.66 corpora lutea per doe to 2.00 corpora lutea per doe."

"New York reports similar improvement. In the western area of the state a 1.60 embryo/doe ratio existed in 1939-43. Following antlerless seasons, the reproductive rate increased to 1.90 embryos per doe in 1947-49. In areas where no antlerless seasons were held and the population density remained unchanged, fertility declined." (pg.15)

This excerpt from Fish and Game's own report invalidates two of their basic 'public' assertions. First, that hunting reduces deer populations. Their examples clearly demonstrate the opposite. In fact, since doe fertility is the true indicator of the population dynamics of a herd, their report illustrates that doing nothing is actually more successful in reducing populations than hunting. Second, that killing does removes them, and their future offspring, thereby reducing the herd. According to Fish and Game's own findings, after does were killed the remaining females had increased birthrates that not only replaced the ones killed, but increased the overall size of the herd.

Another case in point of doe hunting increasing deer populations comes from an article in the North American Hunter magazine. The author, a former biologist who worked for the state of Texas, recounts a deer management program he established that removed 100 does from a 3,000 acre ranch.

"After the hunters on the property harvested the recommended 100 does, they figured that would probably be all the does they'd have to harvest for a long, long time. The following year when we conducted the deer survey, there were more deer on the property than the year before. But many of the deer were fawns. After shooting 100 does, the ranch actually had more fawns than it did the year before. Because of the significant doe harvest, the fawn survival rate increased from 25 percent (four does to rear one fawn to weaning age) to 120 percent (1.2 fawns per doe)."
A corresponding tactic used by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife to maintain an abundance of deer in New Jersey is habitat manipulation, which creates more food for deer. This process is described in An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey.
"Habitat development and maintenance to benefit deer are conducted on 73 state owned Fish and Wildlife Management Areas totaling over 192,000 acres. Habitat management is encouraged on other public and private lands. Limited burning, wood harvest and planting of various agricultural crops favored by deer can increase the carrying capacity by increasing the quality and quantity of food available." (pg.10)
Why would the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife actively increase the carrying capacity for deer while at the same time, advocate hunting to 'reduce the herd'? Remember, the salaries of Fish and Game employees are paid by the sale of hunting licenses. Long term reduction of deer herds is the last thing they want. The cyclical effect of hunting ensures its existence year after year, thereby securing the salaries of Fish and Game employees year after year.

In New Jersey, there are several examples of increased deer herds due to hunting. As stated above, hunting increased the deer at the Earle Naval Base in Monmouth County, this has also occurred at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

From 1974-1989, hunting was banned at Monmouth Battlefield State Park. In late 1989, with the deer population at about 150, Fish and Game pushed through an annual hunt in order 'to reduce the size of the deer herd'. Six years later, hunters have killed over 400 deer at Monmouth Battlefield, and the population has continued to grow. While it took 15 years for the population to reach 150, in just six years, hunters have killed twice as many deer than what was originally at the park. It should also be noted that crop damage, which was one of the reasons the hunt was pushed through, has increased because of the hunt. At the 1993 Division of Fish and Game game code hearing, the head of the New Jersey Farm bureau testified that after four years of hunting at Monmouth Battlefield he is seeing more deer and more crop damage. He then told the Fish and Game council that they should be looking for alternatives because hunting doesn't work.

The situation at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is even worse. Like Monmouth Battlefield, a hunt at Great Swamp was initiated to 'reduce the deer'. That was 20 years ago. Hunters have now killed over 3,000 deer at Great Swamp, and yet, the deer herd is larger than ever. William Koch, Manager of the Great Swamp Refuge testified before the Wildlife Advisory Board of the Morris County Park System in May, 1994. When asked has hunting stimulated or made a healthier population, he replied,

"We have healthier animals, and they have healthier reproduction."
After 20 years, hunting has not accomplished what it was proposed to do.

Fish and Game has been operating in New Jersey for over a century, and the deer population has grown from almost zero, at the beginning of that time, to over 150,000 now. In that time, hunters have killed over 850,000 deer. As long as Fish and Game is allowed to continue selling our deer to hunters, this cycle will not be broken.

Biological Carrying Capacity versus Cultural Carrying Capacity

Biological Carrying Capacity (BCC) and Cultural Carrying Capacity (CCC) are two very important terms that are used when dealing with deer and their habitat. BCC is the number of deer that an area can hold based on the amount of environmental factors present, such as food, water and land. CCC, on the other hand, is a fabricated number based upon no facts, just someone's judgment of what is overpopulation. It is a popular tool used by wildlife managers to get public support for hunting. The truth of the matter is that CCC has no bearing on how many deer can live in an area, and it is therefore not scientifically acceptable to use it to proclaim deer overpopulation. In fact, deer do not naturally overpopulate. Their biological reproduction is based on the amount of food available, and they cannot go beyond the BCC of an area because there will not be enough nutrition for added births.

Deer and Vehicle Accidents

In New Jersey, 98.7% of our population does not hunt, yet hunting is encroaching upon our state and county parks at an alarming rate. Why would the overwhelming majority allow their parks to be taken over by the 1.3% of the population that hunts? Unfortunately, the pro-hunting faction spreads misinformation, taking advantage of the uninformed majority by preying on their fears. Two common arguments wielded by Fish and Game, hunters, and occasionally county employees, are deer/car collisions and Lyme Disease. The public has been led to believe that hunting will eliminate both of these problems. In reality, these issue are no more than smoke screens, veiling their true intent.

In the debate to introduce hunting to any particular area, high incidents of deer/car collisions are often cited to scare people. However, these numbers are manipulated to make the situation seem much worse than it really is. This is confirmed by what The Director of Fish and Game, Robert McDowell, stated in a letter sent to a Morris County official, on 8/7/93,

"The actual impact of deer-auto collisions has been greatly exaggerated. Specifically, individuals routinely multiply the estimated number of deer-vehicle accidents times an average damage estimate. This approach is invalid, because approximately half of all deer vehicle collisions do not involve any damage...Deer-vehicle collisions seldom result in personal injury."
Even more inaccurate than the number of deer/car collisions cited, is the notion that hunting will reduce the number of accidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, most deer/car collisions happen during hunting season. It is not difficult to understand why the hunting in the woods would send deer out onto the roads, in a panic.

If someone still feels that hunting is the only way to stop deer/car collisions, ask them a simple question; Why are there still deer/car collisions after 850,000 dead deer and 100 years of Fish and Game managed hunting? If hunting was a solution then there would be no deer/car collisions today. The answer is that hunting does not work.

In regard to helping stop deer/car collisions, there are a few things that can be done:  

  • Install reflector devices along roadsides. These devices create a barrier when light from headlights bounce off them, keeping deer off the roads. One such device, Swareflex, has been tested for years and has been proven to reduce deer/car collisions from 60% to 100%.
  • Better road lighting is needed. Dark roads are extremely dangerous, for pedestrians and animals.
  • Driver responsibility is extremely important. Speed limits must be followed, and in areas surrounding parks they need to be lowered.
  • The sides of roads should be kept clear of brush. This will keep deer from feeding near the roads, and also allow drivers better vision.

The Lyme Disease Myth

Although there is overwhelming evidence proving that deer are not responsible for Lyme Disease (that Fish and Game is well aware of), it is invariably used as a reason for hunting. Inaccurate information linking Lyme Disease to deer is fed to the public to illicit fear within it. At the Aug. 5, 1993 Assembly Environment Committee, James Blumenstock, Director of New Jersey Consumer Health Services, spoke about Lyme Disease. The following is a basic summary of his main points.

There is no significant relationship between deer management, specifically population control efforts, and the level of deer ticks and the incidence of Lyme disease for the following reasons:  

  • Nymphs, (a stage of the tick) which are responsible for most of the cases, get their blood meals on the white footed mouse, NOT the deer.
  • Adult ticks will adapt if you reduce or remove deer from the area, they will seek alternative hosts.
  • Environmental/ecological control efforts should be the focus in reducing tick populations. Control the disease vector, rather than the host.
According to an in depth study done by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding Lyme Disease, the risk factors for acquiring Lyme disease include living in rural areas, participating in brush clearing activities during June through August, and the presence of a birdfeeder, woods or rock walls on residential property. Risk factors investigated but not found to be associated with Lyme disease were ownership of cats, the presence of a garden or wood pile on residential property, and frequent deer damage to landscaping.

At least as far back as 1990, Fish and Game knew that deer do not cause Lyme Disease, yet to this day, they continue to imply that the two are linked. In An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, the true source of the disease is clearly stated.

"Although many species of ticks are found in New Jersey, only the deer tick (Ixodes dammini) and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) are known to be involved in Lyme disease transmission, with the Ixodes tick more important. These ticks carry the spirochete which causes the illness. However, not all ticks are infected. When an infected tick feeds upon the blood of an animal, the spirochetes are passed into the bloodstream. The deer don't become clinically ill, and their blood is a poor source of the spirochete (Telford et al. 1988). Transmission of the Lyme disease spirochete is via a bite primarily from larval and adult Ixodes ticks which have ingested the spirochete from the blood of its primary reservoir, the white footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)." (pg.19)
All of this evidence clearly shows that deer are not responsible for Lyme disease, and that killing them will have no effect in reducing Lyme disease. The promulgation of this myth is clearly being used to strike at the fear people have over this issue, and to get them to accept deer hunting.

Land Conservation and the Non-Hunting Public

One of the great myths told about land conservation is that hunters buy land with their hunting license fees. It is a fact, that since 1961, no hunting license fees have bought any land what so ever.

It was in 1961 that a deal was made that Wildlife Management Area (WMA) land would be bought through the Green Acres fund, which is a taxpayer funded bond issue . Green Acres was supposed to be used to save our land for the benefit of all, but instead WMA's are managed purely for hunter recreation. These lands are stocked with Pheasants and Quail for hunting, food is planted for game species, trees are clear cut and the habitat changed from its original ecosystems to a new layout solely for the purpose of creating more animals for hunters to kill.

In an article that appeared in the New Jersey Outdoors magazine, Published by NJ Department Of Environmental Protection, Summer 1991, they state the fact that "Green Acres Helps Provide Open Spaces for Public Hunting" on the top of page 23, and then they list over 200,000 acres of WMA's that has been bought with tax dollars from the 98.7% non-hunting public.

In addition to buying land for hunters, the Green Acres program has been used to buy shooting ranges and land that is now used for breeding animals for hunting purposes.

A tiny percentage of land is bought through the Duck Stamp Program. The money that is raised through the sale of these stamps is used to buy land. This is another program that the hunting community claims that it fully funds. However, in an article that appeared 12-01-91, in the NJ Star-Ledger, Robert McDowell stated that 75% of the stamps are purchased by non-hunters for stamp collections. Once again, its the overwhelming number of non-hunters who are buying land, not hunters.

To prove the point of how no hunting license money goes to buy land, here is the financial statement from Fish and Games' 1993-94 Annual Report. It shows how all the hunting license money is spent:

    EXPENDITURES                              NET DISBURSED

    Salaries                                  $6,855,124

    Employee Benefits                         $2,488,889

    Materials and Supplies                    $1,128,184

    Services                                  $604,972

    Rent and Maintenance of Equipment         $438,185 

    Vehicular Maintenance                     $223,702

    Vehicular Equipment                       $95,495

    Other Equipment                           $112,136

    Indirect Costs and Interests              $71,027

    Publications and Recovery                 $1,943     

    Sub-Total                                 $12,019,657     

There is no money going to purchase land. This chart also shows how dependent Fish and Game is on the sale of hunting licenses, and why they push so hard for more hunting. Out of $12,000,000 intake of money, over $9,000,000 goes just to pay salaries and benefits.

Deer and Native Plant Species

A recent argument being used by those who want hunting is that deer are eating all the native species of plants. A plant species that is native is natural to its area, as opposed to introduced species. In many areas throughout the country, introduced species of plants are taking over. The pro-hunt faction would like the public to believe that since deer eat native species, if the deer are killed the native species will thrive and introduced species will decline. The problem is much more complex than that. An introduced species may come to dominate an area for many reasons: faster growth rate than natives, more resilient to disease, etc.. The removal of deer will not make the native species any better equipped for competition with the introduced species. In fact, since deer eat native and non-native species, they can actually help stop the spread of introduced species. A study in American Forests confirms this.
"A concerned landowner in northwestern Pennsylvania contacted us this summer and asked that we visit a large area that had been cut and fenced two years earlier. The fence had been effective. The area was lush with tree regeneration, but closer inspection revealed that without the deer, the area had been converted to pure pin cherry. An aggressive competitor that few native species can beat. Deer browsing helps keep its numbers under control." (Nov/Dec. 1993)
At a symposium held in Morristown in Aug. of 1994, dealing with this issue, it was stated that even if every deer were killed in our state, it would not bring back the native species of plants. The only real solution is the removal of the introduced species.

Hunting and the Wounding and Crippling of Deer

One of the key issues about hunting that is very rarely publicly talked about from Fish and Game is the fact that all forms of hunting result in wounded and crippled animals. Details supporting this can be found in Fish and Game's own documents.
"Associated with harvests of big game animals is a loss of animals which are not recovered by hunters. The words 'crippling' and 'wounding' have often been used in reference to deer which recover or die and are not retrieved after being shot legally by firearm or bow hunters....A study conducted by Lohfeld (1979) at Allamuchy State Park in Warren County in 1975 and 1976 obtained a count of the deer killed, but not recovered during the hunting season. Nine illegally shot deer (13% of the total losses during Six -Day Firearm season) were found. Only deer that were legally shot and then lost were found in the one day either sex hunts. Losses of mule deer in Utah during a bucks -only hunt ran as high as 42% while losses in an either sex hunt were 25% (Costly 1948)...Langenau (1986) found that archery deer hunters were estimated to have retrieved 43% of the deer hit by arrows, while shotgun hunters retrieved 81% of the deer hit." (An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, p.25)
This means that bowhunters wound 57% of the deer they shoot, and shotgun hunters cripple 19% of the deer they shoot. To put this into real terms, during the hunts at Great Swamp over 600 deer were wounded and left to die painful deaths. When you consider the fact that hunters kill 50,000 deer a year, the amount of wounded animals left in our woods is staggering This amount of pain and suffering caused by hunting cannot be overlooked, especially since Fish and Game and most hunting organizations claim that hunting is "humane". These statistics alone negate any such claim that hunting is anything but extremely cruel and inhumane.

Bowhunting

While all hunting is brutal and cripples and kills animals, there is no form of hunting more inaccurate and vicious than bow hunting. The following excerpt is from a report on bowhunting wounding rates done by Glenn A. Boydston and Horace G. Gore, both of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:
"Under most hunting conditions, it is generally difficult to shoot a razor-sharp broadhead arrow into a vital area-- an absolute must for bow hunting proficiency. Data from Texas wildlife management areas provide evidence that, on average, 21 shots are made for every deer killed, or about 10 shots per deer hit. Shot placement is, for all practical purposes, random."

"Many bowhunters are neophytes to the sport and lack experience and knowledge in stalking, shooting, and tracking. However, there is evidence to indicate that experienced bowhunters wound more deer than neophytes because they get more shots and therefore have opportunity to wound."

"Not all deer die. Undoubtedly, many recover. However, almost all abdominally-shot deer die a slow death due to peritonitis. And the concept of nonlethal, 'superficial' hits, and subsequent survivability, has never been quantified."

"In essence for every deer legally bagged with bow and arrow, at least one more is hit and not retrieved."

The statistical data regarding the 50% wounding rate is enormous. In addition to the reports cited by New Jersey Fish and Game, and the Texas Wildlife department, there are 13 additional studies, mostly done by Fish and Game agencies across the country that prove the fact that for every deer a bowhunter kills, another is wounded and left in the woods. The following are the names and results of these studies:

Cada, J.D. 1988, "Preliminary Archery Survey Report", Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Helena Montana. 7pp., 51% wounded.

Downing, R.L. 1971, "Comparison of Crippling Losses of White Tailed Deer Caused by Archery, Buckshot and Shotgun Slugs" , Proceedings of the Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 25: 77-82, 50% wounded.

Hansen, L.P. and Olson, G.S. 1989, "Survey of Archery Hunters, 1987", Missouri Department of Conservation. Columbia, Missouri. 17pp., 52% wounded.

Anonymous. 1970 , "Chincoteague Narrative Report, 1965-1970", Refuge Managers United States Government. memorandum to Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Atlanta, Georgia. 3pp., 52% wounded.

Croft, R.L. 1963, "A Survey of Georgia Bowhunters", Proceedings of the Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 25:77-82, 44% wounded.

Moen, A.N. 1989, "Crippling Losses", Deer and Deer Hunting 12 (6) : 64-70, 68% wounded.

Hofacker, A. 1986, "On the Trail of Wounded Deer: The Philosophy of Waiting", Deer and Deer Hunting 10 (2) :65-85, 104, 56% wounded.

Garland, L.E. 1972, "Bowhunting for Deer in Vermont: Some Characteristics of the Hunters, the Hunt, and the Harvest", Vermont Fish and Game Department. Waterbury, Vermont. 19pp., 63% wounded.

Jackson, R.M. and Norton, R. 1982, "Wisconsin Bowhunter Study", University of Wisconsin. Lacrosse, Wisconsin. 36pp., 44% wounded.

Aho, R.W. 1984, "Deer Hunting Retrieval Rates", Michigan Pittman-Robertson Report. Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Lansing Michigan. 11pp., 58% wounded.

Langenau, Jr. E.E and Aho, R.W. 1983, "Relative Impact of Firearms and Archery on Deer Populations", Proceedings of the Midwest Bowhunting Conference. Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Edited by Beattie, K.H. and Moss, B.A. pp.97-121, 55% wounded.

Langenau, Jr., E.E. 1986, "Factor Associated with Hunter Retrieval of Deer Hit by Arrows and Shotgun Slugs", Leisure Sciences 8 (4) : 417-438, 61% wounded.

McPhilips, K.B., Linder, R.L. and Wentz W.A. 1985, "Nonreporting, Success, and Wounding by South Dakota Deer Bowhunters--1981", Wildlife Society Bulletin 13 (4) : 395-398, 48% wounded.

Sharpshooting

The word Sharpshooting is a misnomer. In actuality, there is no sharpshooting involved, instead, it is the baiting and killing of deer. In early 1995, the Union County Freeholders, along with their Parks department carried out New Jersey's first suburban Sharpshooting action.

The public was told that Sharpshooters, who were off duty police officers, would be used because they were more responsible than average hunters. This was an important factor, because many people were uncomfortable with the sharpshooting concept, and the thought of the police being more responsible than average hunters helped the County officials push through the 'bait and kill' operation. However, what the general public did not hear was what was said at the 1-18-95 meeting of the Fish and Game council. Charles Sigmund, Director of the Division of Parks and Recreation for Union County, testified that while the public perceives them (the police officers) to be more responsible, he does not necessarily support that.

Hundreds of pounds of food were put out for the tame deer of the Watchung Reservation. Every morning, the 'sharpshooters' killed deer feeding at these sites. After the first 30 deer were killed, Union County official Dan Bernier admitted that 3 deer were shot, but escaped into the woods, wounded. The 'sharpshooters' were shooting tame deer over bait sites, and still wounded 10% of the animals. Since hundreds of pounds of food was now available for the survivors, this action surely wound up creating more deer than what would have occurred without the sharpshooting. Sharpshooting, like all other forms of hunting, is cruel, inaccurate, and only leads to increases in the deer populations that it supposedly seeks to reduce.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the sharpshooting 'alternative to hunting' is that it is being supported as being 'humane' by certain animal welfare groups. NJARA is strongly against sharpshooting. As the disaster at the Watchung Reservation illustrated, it is extremely cruel and barbaric.

Non-Lethal Alternatives to Hunting

Trap and transfer. In parks and reservations, corrals can be set up to lure deer safely onto trucks and then be transported to other areas. Naturally, we would not let them be taken to areas where they would be killed. Trap and transfer is extremely safe, and has been used successfully in New Jersey to move hundreds of deer. The corral system can also be used in conjunction with other forms of reproduction control.

Surgical sterilization. Robert Roughton, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote an article in the Journal of Wildlife Management that discussed this issue:

"Where free-ranging ungulates can be tranquilized efficiently in groups (Murry 1965) or trapped, either individually or in groups, permanent or semi-permanent sterilization may be at least practical overall. Greer et al. (1968) demonstrated that ovariectomies can be performed rapidly and safely on wild elk (Cervus canadensis) and suggested that under certain circumstances, such surgery may be a useful management tool."
Birth Control. Birth control for deer is now a reality. Studies using birth control in New Jersey should begin sometime later this year. Right now it is available in a 2 shot dose that is delivered through a dart gun. According to Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, the scientist working on the birth control, or 'Immunocontraceptive," a one shot dart should be ready by early next year. Sadly, Fish and Game has not been very cooperative in allowing birth control to be used.

There are several combinations of non-lethal methods that can be tried. Unfortunately, Fish and Game controls what happens to our wildlife, and they are not willing to use alternatives to hunting. As you can see from the following chart containing figures for 1993-1994, there are over 1,000,000 animals killed by hunting in our state every year. Until the Fish and Game council and the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife are dramatically changed, our wildlife populations will continue to be slaughtered for recreation and profit.

  Hunted Pheasants 310,349 Rabbits 187,527 Squirrel 150,139 Ducks 114,776 Quail 98,748 Geese 71,995 Deer 49,942 Ruffed Grouse 10,060 Woodcock 12,302 Turkeys 1413 Trapped Muskrat 42,274 Raccoon 4,200 Red Fox 1,495 Opossum 490 Grey Fox 480 Skunk 321 Mink 114 Beaver 113 River 22 Coyote 3

Notes

Corpora lutea: The solid bodies formed in the empty follicles created when the egg ruptures toward the end of heat or estrus. The corpora lutea secrete hormones that help follicle development and increase fertility. The large increase in the rate of Corpora Lutea shows that deer secrete more hormones after they are hunted. This release of hormones causes more eggs to be released, which means you now have twin and triplet births.

Works Cited

Brant, Howard. "Deer Harvests May be Declining but not Number of Permits." The Star-Ledger, 7 April, 1992

Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife. An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey. 1990

Putman, Rory. The Natural History of Deer. Ithaca, N.Y. Comstock Pub. Associates, 1988

Roughton, Robert "Effects of Oral Melengestrol Acetate On Reproduction in Captive White-Tailed Deer." Journal of Wildlife Management, 1979

Weishuhn, Larry. "Dealing With Does." North American Hunter, Oct. 1995

"Whitetails are Changing our Woodlands." American Forests, Nov/Dec. 1993


NEW JERSEY ANIMAL RIGHTS ALLIANCE
P.O. Box 174
Englishtown, NJ 07726
(908) 446-6808