Culling the herd
To the Editor:
No doubt, the issue of culling deer on Shelter Island and on the East End of Long Island in general is a touchy subject.
There is much to be learned on the subject of species diversity and balance within an ecosystem. But it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to know that the deer population on Shelter Island is unsustainable.
What are the consequences?
• Increased incidence of tick-borne diseases.
• Continued destruction of the forest understory, or areas below the reach of a deer’s mouth. In turn, destruction of the understory destroys food and nesting area for insects and birds.
• Native plants are being munched to near extinction by the large deer population. In turn, invasive species are thriving.
• Deer and motor vehicle collisions are on the rise.
Ask any biologist what high numbers of road kill means; it’s not just driver inattention and habitat loss, but it means there is a large population of that animal in the environment.
Responsible hunting is the only tool we have available at this time to cull the unsustainable number of deer in our environment. If you care about species diversification (rather than embracing only the deer), you will see that a deer management program is necessary.
I advocate for responsible hunting and use of every aspect of the animal. The meat is local and sustainable. All cuts can be utilized for our tables and for our pets. Nothing is better than knowing where your food comes from and how it was handled.
The hides can be home-tanned and used to make clothing or bags — how about a Shelter Island sustainable grocery bag made from deer hide — or sold to an upstate tannery where the hide will go into the larger stream of manufacture.
Let’s arm ourselves with the facts of a complicated issue. A good place to start is with Al Cambronne’s well-researched book, “Deerland.” It sheds a lot of light on why a responsible, humane, safe and well-managed hunting program should be embraced.
Live and let live
To the Editor:
This so-called “culling” the herd of deer is extremely offensive and so inhumane to anyone who cares about nature, wildlife and our Island. In the first place, it’s teaching our children great life lessons — if you don’t like it, kill it.
So many times when a piece of property is sold, everything is denuded on that property and nothing is ever planted back for nature. Their habitat is completely destroyed.
I have lived here all my life, my family farmed here, and there are no more deer now than when I was growing up. You just see them more frequently. And anyone who lives here knows if a deer crosses the road in front of you, there are probably a couple more to follow. So slow down and pay attention to driving, not to phones or texting.
Now they want to kill the snowy owls, mute swans — guess what’s next, our neighbors? We used to have quail and pheasants here too, but we don’t anymore. If you don’t want wildlife around, you don’t come here — it’s that simple.
Years ago, people were allowed to burn their open fields and this kept the tick population down. So why doesn’t the DEC allow controlled burns again? You will never eradicate the ticks because every animal carries them, even birds.
Why didn’t this hunt come up for a vote?
MARY ANN UHNAK
A change of heart
To the Editor:
Did you ever see the movie “The Queen”? The Queen was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when she heard of the accident involving Princess Diana. She was reluctant to go to London in order to honor her death. She was out on the moors when the men were stalking deer. A stag crossed her path and looked her straight in the eye. The magnificence and beauty of this creature melted her heart, and she knew she had to go to London to do what was right for Princess Diana.
I hope that those who have been governed by such fear that they wish to reward Islanders who have killed the most deer, and offer free corn to entice a hungry deer to be shot, will have a change of heart and reflect the loving principle of their true creator, which is life.