September 19, 2020

When Hunting Deer Is Restricted Lure The Deer To You

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This is what we have come to I guess. Everyday there are more and more areas closed to hunting. When these parcels of land, no matter how small, are closed to hunting, particularly deer hunting, population gets out of control. With that uncontrolled growth comes, disease, starvation, property destruction, habitat devastion and increased auto/deer collisions, sometimes resulting in serious injury of death.

Hunting is the only proven tool that will successfully and reasonably control wildlife growth and maintain healthy levels of animals. When hunting is removed as a management tool, problems arise.

Pennsylvania is one state that is looking down the barrel at a new deer baiting proposal that would affect five counties – Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware. There is limited hunting of deer in these counties and a deer population that far exceeds what wildlife officials would consider within their management goals of deer densities.

What officials are proposing is allowing hunters to bait deer on lands that are open to hunting in these counties, in an effort to lure deer away from these closed, over populated areas.

Under the new proposal hunters would be allowed to distribute no more than 10 pounds of bait no more than three times per day and only during legal hunting hours. The proposal also carries a three-year sunset clause.

I am not much of a proponent of deer baiting for various reasons. Unlike baiting for bear, generally speaking there are far more deer available for harvesting than bear and a whole lot more deer hunters than bear hunters. Under most circumstances I fail to see how baiting deer is a necessary tool in deer management.

There are some states that allow deer baiting even though the deer populations are such that there are problems. Growing food plots is just another form of baiting and when the motivating factor behind baiting is simply to increase the odds of shooting bigger bucks, I believe it is wrong and wrong for our sport.

Deer baiting or any form of baiting for that matter, of wildlife by hunters is a controversial matter, one that has no simple solutions because it involves ethics. Ethics, unless clearly written into law, is left up to the interpretation of the individual.

In the case of Pennsylvania, I feel that under the circumstances that landowners have put the wildlife managers into, baiting becomes the lesser of evils in which to choose from. It is a sad commentary that this is what we have had to resort to.

A brand new study just released shows that the approval rating for hunting has actually increased in the last 10 years. The biggest reason for that increase is said to be because more and more people are learning just how valuable a tool hunting is in maintaining a good healthy wildlife population. They also are learning that with a healthy herd, it limits land damages, personal injuries, disease and starvation and provides them more wildlife viewing opportunities.

Even though studies show this, too much land is being closed to hunting. This runs contrary to the study results. It would seem that if those approving hunting was on the upswing, more land would be open to hunt on.

From this I can reach two possible explanations. One is the attitude that “I approve of hunting but not on my land” and/or two, those opposed to hunting are dumping all their financial resources into buying up land for the sole purpose of closing it.

Whatever the reasons, states like Pennsylvania are now having to resort to compromising ethics in order to manage its wildlife. Sad!

Tom Remington

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