December 11, 2023

Wanting It Both Ways

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There are areas all across America where too many deer are a problem. I have written many times about these problems and the arguments for and against how to deal with it are getting old.

The first step in dealing with any issue like this is admitting there is a problem. This doesn’t always happen and often times happens in varying degrees. Some people refuse to admit that deer amassed in great numbers on small parcels of land, destroying vegetation and spreading disease, as well as killing each other by means of a slow, agonizing death through starvation and disease, isn’t a problem.

Some might see it as a problem of sorts but refuse to take any steps to correct it. Still others see it as a problem and want to throw money at in hopes it will go away. But whose money are they wanting to throw?

There are businesses (nurseries, foresters, farmers, etc.) and residents who admit there is a problem and demand the government do something about it but when the government tells them what the tried and true method, the only one that is proven to control deer populations in the long term, is hunting, they balk.

Here’s the real problem as I see it. First of all, it is a very small minority of people that oppose the use of hunting for deer management. Most support the method while others recognize it as a viable solution and don’t fight it. They may voice concerns about safety and that is understandable.

Secondly, why do game commissions cave in to the demands of a few vocal small groups, when their job is to manage wildlife? No governmental program is going to satisfy all individuals or groups. These are the same groups that oppose hunting of any kind, demand the government stop deer from eating their plants, pay for damages to their vehicles when they collide with the deer, and all at the same time insisting that the government ensure that they will see these beautiful animals in the woods in their backyards or when they go out on an outing. All of these demands are being made yet many of the same people are not paying one red cent toward the management of the deer or other wildlife.

Fish and game departments in many states are strapped for cash. Most states rely heavily, if not completely, on fees generated from hunting and fishing licenses to pay for wildlife management programs. Some states collect taxes from the sale of hunting and fishing related equipment sold. More and more demands are being placed on fish and wildlife departments by taxpayers who are insisting that animals be present everywhere. They also demand that our wildlife be healthy and that we use all the latest scientific means to fulfill those demands. All of this costs money and as the cost of managing wildlife goes up, the number of hunters and fishermen, isn’t increasing at the same rate. License fees are going up in nearly all states and in some cases more than doubling in one year.

So the question becomes, who should pay? The answer is simple, the solution may not be. Everyone should pay – it’s the democratic way! We all know the expression about “looking a gift horse in the mouth”. When I am given something at no cost to me, I certainly am not in a position to make demands of the giver. When I do, I should be prepared to spend my own money. The same holds true in this case. You can’t have it both ways.

People build their homes by cutting down trees, digging up the ground, etc. while encroaching on the animals that live there. They build in the country – at least that’s what they call it – and demand that they will see wildlife out their back doors. Often times people feed the wildlife. The homeowner plants luscious grasses and shrubs and when the deer move in and devour all the vegetation left in the surrounding woods, they move in and clean up the easy foraging of backyards.

The homeowner doesn’t want hunting anywhere near their home, yet they want something done about the deer. Some going so far as to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on sterilization and birth control programs that show time and again are ineffective.

The solution of levying the costs of wildlife management isn’t easy but certainly is doable. Some states are proposing a wildlife viewing card that needs to be bought before visiting areas to look at animals in the wild. There are creative ways of generating the income, the difficulty may come in deciding who pays what percentage. I believe that hunters and fishers need to continue to pay their fair share for the management of the game they strive for but those same two groups can’t continue to meet the costs coming from the demands of the general public.

People can’t have it both ways, particularly when they aren’t paying for it. These people need to start chipping in their fair share to help manage wildlife. They can no longer look the gift horse in the mouth.

Tom Remington