Your poll in this week's Ithaca Times, asking whether it's more humane for deer to die of starvation or by net and bolt slaughter, is manipulative and misleading. You offer two undesirable choices as if they are the only options available, creating a situation in which those who find both choices unacceptable will simply not participate in the poll. Meanwhile, the minority of people who find the highly controversial net & bolt slaughtering of deer acceptable are now in a position to appear as the majority - the "voice" of our community. It would be just as nonsensical to run a poll asking Ithacans whether it's more desirable to have fracking in New York, or to have our state go bankrupt. False dichotomies lead to deceptive results.
I have attended every meeting on the deer issue in Cayuga Heights for almost three years now. I've read every public document associated with the killing plan. No one has ever presented any evidence that the deer in the village are starving. Likewise, no scientist has claimed that the population of deer has exceeded its biological carrying capacity. Furthermore, there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that the deer population, last measured in 2006, is spiraling out of control. Rather, the data that is available shows that the population has been staying in the same general range for fifteen or more years. What scientific studies DO show is that when deer have too little food, their reproduction rate goes down, and conversely, when their population dramatically drops (for example, after mass-killing is performed), their reproduction rates rapidly increase. It's nature's way of maintaining balance.
If Cayuga Heights wants to avoid an endless cycle of unnecessary killing, the most reliable and least violent way to reduce the deer herd is to gradually reduce the scale of the available food supply. This won't produce starvation, but rather, lower rates of reproduction. There are currently many Village residents who wish to erect fences high enough to keep the deer out of their yards, as evidenced by their large and vocal turnout at recent public hearings about proposals to change the fencing ordinance. There are still dozens more residents who have already taken measures to protect their yards by building fences taller than the current ordinance allows. Instead of ordering these residents to tear down their fences, as the trustees have said they will do, and instead of denying countless others the ability to protect their yards, the trustees would be better advised to amend their 50-year-old fencing ordinance that now only serves to create frustration and unnecessary conflict. Allowing tasteful, nearly see-through fencing would go a long way toward helping beleaguered gardeners and reducing the food supply to deer, which would lead to a more sustainable and humane solution for all.
Fencing is but one of numerous non-violent ways to reduce deer-human conflict. There are many other approaches that help everyone and hurt no one. So why has the Ithaca Times set up this false dichotomy? How does this serve the good of the community? The only thing this poll accomplishes is sanitizing the irrational, morally repugnant activities that the Cayuga Heights government is poised to engage in as soon as this Fall. No other New York State community has ever attempted to carry out net & bolt mass slaughter of deer, much less in a neighborhood setting. When people have viewed grainy, black and white footage of net & bolt in action (available on the internet), most are horrified and repulsed. What will happen when people witness firsthand the grisly sights and sounds of mass slaughter being carried out as close to their homes as their neighbors' yards? Oh, right, that's when the Cayuga Heights trustees will point to the results of your poll and say, "See? The community thinks Net & Bolt killing is perfectly humane."
I'm disappointed in you, Ithaca Times. Whatever one's view of the deer issue may be, it's pretty obvious this poll is unfair and a disservice to our community.
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