Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh, Deer!

Last night when I came home from work, I flipped through the various envelopes and circulars delivered in my mail. There was a large postcard among the bills. It was announcing that a local park - a reservation just down the street from where I live - would be closed Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next month, starting January 27.

Why? you may ask.

Because, for the second year in a row, our lovely county has given the green light, amidst much protest, to move forward with the deer hunt in South Mountain Reservation.

This cheeses me off like you wouldn't believe.

The supposed reasoning behind the deer hunt is to cull the deer population by bringing in licensed marksmen to shoot - and kill - deer in the park, mostly females, to ensure that the population doesn't get out of control and that they do not suffer a shortage of resources, like food. The unofficial reason is that many who live in the area, who have expanded into the natural habitats of these animals, can't deal with having deer in their yards - eating their plants, crossing the well-traveled roads, existing in "human space." There are just too many of them!

Last year, the first hunt was held after years of protest. By the time it was all done, more than half of the estimated deer population in the reservation were killed. As mentioned earlier, this park is not far from my home. During the month-long hunt, it sounded like 'Nam in the morning.

Now, my neighborhood is anything but rural. The local train line run passed one end of our street, and a main road runs passed the other. Two major highways are nearby. Houses are built almost on top of each other. Not to say it's a bad place to live - in fact, it's a pretty, wealthy, upstanding kind of place - but like most towns in Northern NJ, it's overpopulated with people, roads and shopping malls. So - where do you want the deer to go, people? We have a family of deer that come into our yard now and then, and it's beautiful. To think of them being hunted down is more than tragic.

This hunt is so wrong is so many ways, it would need its own blog to discuss all the issues. But for sake of brevity here, I will say this. As far as I am aware, the citizens of Essex County had no say in this. There was no vote among the people; it was determined by county officials. Also, shooting an animal is not humane, no matter how loudly Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo says that it is. Lastly, at the end of last year's hunt, DiVincenzo claimed it was a success and that people in the community were happy about the results. Really? Who were these so-called people? No one that I know.

How much longer will this go on? I just hope that, come spring, our deer family returns to our backyard once again, unaffected by all this madness.

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