I believe the deer birth-control program at Point Reyes and other similar public areas is a good approach (HCN, 5/28/07). As someone who has lived with deer my whole life in both rural and suburban settings, I believe there are multiple major problems with allowing hunting in popular public lands, parks, and refuges. First, publicly owned lands are, by definition, public, and the presence of hunting, even directed sharpshooter hunting, is very intimidating to the majority of the public who want to be able to hike, camp and view wildlife year-round without the fear that the animal they are thrilled to see one moment will die at human hands the next. Hunting also changes the dynamic of wildlife interaction: non-hunting human visitors to the park have to fear that their very presence viewing or photographing any time of the year will endanger an animal by making it complacent to humans and therefore more at risk of suffering from a human weapon. And “suffering” is the right word; in spite of the wholesome sound of words like “harvesting,” many animals do not die instantly from bullets or, worse, arrows and traps, but suffer inexcusably.
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