Deer hunting myths ignore science

by Ashley Pankratz, Guest EssayistPublished 10:21 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2017 | Updated 10:33 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2017

The recent article, “It’s that Deer Time of Year,” offers tips to help drivers avoid hitting deer, but tells an incomplete story. While mating season initiates deer movement, hunting practices, too, are to blame. The Erie Insurance Group cites a five-fold increase in deer-related accidents on opening day—a statistic that has nothing to do with rut.

Unfortunately, the article also presents a platform for the Quality Deer Management Association, but offers no dissenting perspective. Despite the benign moniker, QDMA is dedicated to producing trophy-quality bucks through selective hunting and habitat manipulation. Like the DEC, QDMA seeks to normalize the recreational killing of wildlife through carefully constructed arguments which, to an undiscerning ear, sound like science.

The DEC’s recent Deer Management Study finds that “hunters prefer to harvest older bucks.” In other words, they pursue the biggest rack, despite the fact that killing bucks does not determine population. Dr. Allen Rutberg, a proponent of the newly EPA-approved deer contraceptive PZP, observes, “The most visible weakness in the assertion that hunting is necessary to control deer populations is that it has largely failed to do so… Just because deer are being killed doesn’t mean that deer populations are being controlled.”

Sadly, the DEC has done nothing to dispel the myth that deer numbers affect the incidence of Lyme disease in humans, while experts, including those from the Harvard School of Public Health, explicitly state otherwise. Deer neither carry nor transmit the disease, and not a single peer-reviewed study correlates deer culling with Lyme disease reduction in humans. There is, however, an abundance of data to suggest that killing deer has no impact on Lyme disease transmission.

What does impact tick population is the fox and lowly opossum. Opossums consume as many as 5,000 ticks per season, and foxes, who consume rodents, are essential to controlling the disease. But from late October until mid-February, New York hunters and trappers are permitted to kill an unlimited number of either species in any manner they see fit, including drowning, suffocating, and shooting. Coyotes, also essential to balanced ecosystems, are blamed by hunters for suppressing deer population, and endure six months of killing. Suggesting that we prevent Lyme disease by killing deer with bows and arrows in suburban backyards, or that we rectify the decline in hunting by encouraging 12-year-olds to shoot animals, is absurd.

Science doesn’t have an agenda, nor is it dependent on the sale of weapons or hunting licenses; but that is how our current system of wildlife management operates. The more we understand interdependency and ecosystem health, and the more diligently we assess the motivations of those who determine wild lives’ fate, the more evident the need for a balanced perspective.

Ashley Pankratz is a wildlife and outdoors enthusiast who lives in Livingston County.

Founder of “Protect the Harvest” considered for Interior Secretary position

“A few months ago, President-elect Donald Trump identified Forrest Lucas as
a possible consideration for Secretary of the Interior — a position that is
responsible for protecting the nation’s natural land resources.

What is it exactly that makes Lucas qualified for this position? That is a
very good question.

Forrest Lucas is founder of Lucas Oil Products (a manufacturer of
lubricants and fuel and oil additives), sponsor of the Touring Pro Division
of the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. and several national cow and horse
events and owner of tracks located in California, Missouri and
Indianapolis, as well as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.

Lucas created Protect the Harvest, an innocuous-sounding group with its own
super PAC that animals rights activists consider the most aggressive and
best-funded anti-animal advocacy group. Established in 2010 with an initial
investment of more than $600,000, Protect the Harvest targets policy makers
and activists who stand up for animal rights, welfare and protections. And
Protect the Harvest’s biggest target is the Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS).”

Read more:

Last year’s Oklahoma’s deer hunting season was the worst this century

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014.

The Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation released the deer harvest
for the 2013-14 hunting season. Fewer deer were killed by hunters in Okla.
last season since the 1990s.
A total of 88,000 deer were killed by Okla. hunters last season. This is
almost 20,000 fewer deer than the previous hunting season and almost
25,000 fewer than two years ago.
In the last 15 years, Okla.’s deer harvest normally has exceeded 100,000
and only failing under that no. a total of five times.
Only one other time in the past 15 years has the total been less than
That happened in 2004 when the state’s deer harvest was 89,030.
There are several factors that may have contributed to fewer deer being
killed by hunters last season a/w a spokesman for the Okla. Wildlife Dept.
He notes “We have had a drought for quite some time, which has impacted
In addition to the drought, the weather during Okla.’s busiest deer
season (the ten day rifle season) was miserable and likely kept more
at home.
The opening weekend of the rifle season was bitter cold with ice in parts
of the state and the final weekend of the hunting season was also extremely
cold. In between those weekends it was very foggy.
He added “I think a lot of our hunters, they have had success in seasons
past, they were not wanting to get out and fight the weather.”
The state’s big game biologists were not alarmed by a significant dropoff
in just one year. They try not to look at the highs and lows but the
However, if they continue to see a reduced harvest, they need to figure
out what they need to do to change the trend.
The weather models show that the state may be in for a long dry cycle.
If the drought continues and deer reproduction continues to suffer, then
the Wildlife Dept. will have to re-examine the bag limits and season
for future deer hunting seasons.

Raccoon killer won’t be prosecuted

[This is the kind of cruelty behind Joe Namath’s fur coat:]

BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 3 (UPI) — Animal rights activists said a Colorado college student who admitted killing a raccoon with a baseball bat got off with a “slap on the wrist.”
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his office declined to prosecute Jace Roberts Griffiths, 20, on a felony animal cruelty charge after Griffiths admitted killing the animal so he could “take its hide.”

Griffiths, a University of Colorado student, holds a valid state hunting license Garnett said permits him to hunt animals for their fur — which is, legally speaking, what he was doing when he killed the raccoon, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

But Rita Anderson of the Boulder chapter of In Defense of Animals said Garnett’s office is misreading the law. The Colorado statute sets out to define legal methods of hunting animals. In the case of raccoons, the law permits shooting the animals with a shotgun, handgun or crossbow, or trapping them.

The law later states, “any method of take not listed herein shall be prohibited” — and that, Anderson said, justifies prosecution on the animal cruelty charge.

“Bludgeoning or whacking or batting is not listed,” Anderson said. “I do believe animal cruelty charges could have been brought. The hunting excuse was utterly absurd.”

Garnett, who defended his department’s handling of animal cruelty cases, said no legal precedent exists for moving forward with the charges.

“We looked very closely at that case and could not find any charges that we felt were appropriate,” Garnett said. “We had no evidence the animal was not killed quickly and painlessly.”

That didn’t satisfy Anderson or other animal rights supporters.

“We have repeatedly in group meetings spoken to [Garnett] about how cruelty to animal cases have not been given what we believe to be the right consideration,” Anderson said. “These people are getting a slap on the wrist.”

© 2014 United Press International

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Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

“Endangered” Hunter Auctioned off to Save Species

Believing the spin that “hunters are an endangered species,” trophy-hunter hunting group, the Sahara Club, a conservation group dedicated to preserving the hunter herd for future generations of trophy-hunter hunters to harvest, auctioned off asuccessful anti-hunt chance to hunt an aging, expendable hunter to raise funds for their cause. Taxidermy services will also be awarded to the winning bidder. Proceeds will be used to enhance hunter habitat for the species known taxonomically as Homo huntsman horribilis and will go towards funding more logging roads to allow access for their trucks and four-wheelers, as well as building more conveniently located gas station/mini-marts, taverns and mobile home parks.

Biologists blame a long history of inbreeding for the decline in hunter fertility and viability. When asked about the ethics of hunting down and killing this unfortunate individual, a Sahara Club spokesman stated, “Overall I think it will be a good thing. While it may bad for this individual hunter, it is in the interest of conservation of the hunter species.” If the auction idea proves to be a success, the group plans to hold similar events for loggers, ranchers, commercial fishermen and other resource extractors also said to be endangered species by industry spin doctors.

Individuals chosen to be hunted down and harvested can thank the Safari Club for recently coming up with the idea of auctioning a rhino trophy hunt on an endangered black rhinoceros.


(This has been another installment in EtBG’s “Headlines We’d Like to See.”)


“Wish Someone Dead Foundation” Grants Child’s Homicidal Request

The Wish Someone Dead Foundation, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to countering the animal-unfriendly efforts of the group, Hunt of a Lifetime (which was founded in 1998, after the Make a Wish Foundation ceased granting wishes involving the use of firearms or other weapons designed to cause injury), has awarded 7 year old leukemia victim, Gerald Watkins, a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream of offing a trophy hunting scumbag. The charitable group plans to fly the boy to Zimbabwe, outfit him with a sniper rifle and plenty of ammunition and line him up with a professional assassin who will instruct him in the fine art of dispatching a camo-clad nimrod with one clean shot.

Although society generally frowns on children (outside the military) being trained to kill other people, the raw deal this young terminal patient has been dealt in life seems to justify an exception to the rule. And besides, the target Gerald has chosen to eliminate—Philippe de Sade—couldn’t be more deserving. In one African safari, De Sade shot and killed species including elephants, hippos, buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hartebeest, impalas, pigs, the not-so-formidable 30-pound steenbok and even a mother ostrich on her nest. No wait, that was Teddy Roosevelt, musing in his autobiographical, African Game Trails. But this De Sade guy is a pretty murderous a-hole too…
(This has been another installment in EtBG’s “Headlines We’d Like to See.”)


Hunting by any other name is still hunting

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

By Gordon Douglas Special to the Arizona Daily Star

It’s hard not to chuckle at how hard some people have to work to not say something. A great example is Gerry Perry’s Dec. 23 guest opinion, “Hunting benefits Arizona.”

He extols the virtues of “harvesting nature’s surplus” and “reconnecting with nature’s ecosystems in a meaningful way.” You’d almost think he was talking about catching apples falling from a tree or hiking a wilderness. What he’s desperately avoiding are the words shooting, killing, wounding or suffering. That “meaningful connection” he’s talking about is going into an ecosystem, finding an animal and killing it.

Even the use of the word hunting is basically a way to avoid describing the actual intent of the activity. Photographers, naturalists and those who enjoy observing wildlife all “hunt” for wild animals. What sets “hunters” apart is killing the animals once they find them.

He notes game may be killed for food, but does not acknowledge that many animals are not eaten but are killed for trophies, so the hunter can brag “I killed that,” or are just killed for the fun of it. Those of us who eat meat recognize it is necessary to kill animals for that purpose, but we call the place for that a slaughterhouse, not a chicken collection center or cattle aggregation area.

[Ok, here the article’s author lacks insight into his own complicity in killing farmed animals–he doesn’t have to eat meat. But read on; he makes some great points in the next few paragraphs…]

He correctly points out how hunters provide funding for wildlife management. What he doesn’t say is that through this funding mechanism hunters essentially control how wildlife is managed.

Public lands and their wildlife are operated as a shooting preserve for hunters. Rather than a responsibility of all Arizonans, game animals are looked at as the private property of hunters to be exploited to the maximum extent possible. Natural predators are usually reduced or eliminated, since the value of animals is measured in the number of targets and carcasses for hunters.

He lauds hunting as making it possible to bring back many species from near extinction, which is a mind-boggling reversal of reality. The species were nearly made extinct by hunting. Species are not saved by killing; they are saved by not killing. Animals can be saved for their intrinsic value, instead of bred to be slaughtered for pleasure. The endangered species act was not passed so we could shoot pandas.

A few other items carefully avoided in the piece are the number of people accidentally killed or wounded in hunting accidents, the number of children killed or wounded in accidents from hunting weapons carelessly left in homes, and the general gun carnage in our nation fueled in part by the fanatical resistance of many hunters to any sort of reasonable restrictions on guns of any type.

Hunting involves the use of lethal weapons, and that always carries a tragic price.

Much money is indeed spent on hunting, but this money would be spent in other ways if not for hunting. These other ways could well provide even more significant benefits to our state.

America has a centuries-old hunting tradition. In all likelihood that tradition will continue into the foreseeable future. But in the mean time, let’s stop playing word games, honestly face what we are doing, and recognize the costs as well as benefits.

Oklahoma Doesn’t Need Wildlife “Services” to Kill Thousands of Geese…

…, they just encourage sport hunters to do it.

Oklahoma Saturday hunting news:

The Okla. Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the season dates for the next water-fowl season.The most significant change from last season is the increase in the daily limits for geese.

The daily limit for Canadian geese has increased from three to eight.

The daily limit for light geese has increased from 20 to 50. [50? Did they say FIFTY!!]

A migratory game bird biologist for the Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation
hopes the increased bag limits will lure more people back to hunting geese.

He states “Hopefully, having eight birds (as the daily limit for Canadian geese) will get some folks back into the sport.”

Geese continue to cause nuisance problems in the state. He adds “We are trying to increase the harvest.”

For duck hunters, the daily limit during the Sept. teal season has increased from four to six birds. The limit of scaups during the duck seasons has been reduced from six to three birds daily. The daily limit for canvasbacks has increased from one to two.

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Making Too Much of Hunting?

Some folks might be thinking that I’m making too much of this whole hunting issue. After all, it’s been a long time tradition practiced by some of our most famous presidents (and infamous vice presidents). How bad could it be?

Well, all you have to do is visit any grocery store magazine rack across America to find out how bad it is. If anything, you’ll see that sport hunting is worse than what I’ve been saying.

Like any other animal exploitation industry out there these days, the deeper you dig, the more shocking the details you’ll uncover. Despite my involvement (some might say obsession) with this issue (to the point of writing a book about it) I guess I really haven’t plumbed the darkest depths of hunting’s heartlessness yet. I found myself genuinely shocked when I saw the wording on the cover of an Alaskan “sportsmen’s” magazine in a grocery store check-out line on my way home from visiting relatives yesterday. Partially covering the photo of a grinning hunter posing with his dead “trophy” animal were the words, “Where to Kill the Biggest Critters”!

At least this publication was honest, it came right out and said “kill,” not “harvest” or “take” or any of those other soft-sell terms for animal murder. They know they’re evil, and they’re proud of it. Among the other articles featured was “Learning from Ted Nugent.” That should give you some idea of the intellect level of the magazines’ readership. 

But this rag is not just for sale in some backwoods enclave or at the rat-hole mini-mart where Bubba stops in for beer and beef jerky. I came upon it at an upscale grocery store by a ferry landing right across the Puget Sound from the supposedly progressive city of Seattle. This stuff is wide spread and insidious.

So what kind of awful, sick things were inside that magazine? I didn’t have the stomach to pick it up and look. Maybe next time…

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson