Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deer sterilisation?

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I was just speaking to some neighbours about the deer in the area. I love watching deer but apparently their numbers are exploding in Maryland. The state allows hunting during certain periods of the year but hunting season is over for now.

The deer can apparently cause damage to plants and trees. Is killing the answer though? Hunting thins the herds for a while - but the population just rebounds again with the next breeding cycle. It kind of reminds me of the whole cat situation. Culling is not the solution - here's an interesting article on population control through sterilisation for deer.

Here's an article that made me wonder what on earth they were thinking.

They also have oral contraceptives for deer - and since people are feeding them anyway, that sounds like a pretty good idea!


Anonymous said...

Makes one wonders if AVA is not being helpful in sterilisation of stray cats to allow its staff to continue killing them at its premises! Perhaps they have developed a morbid taste of killing stray dogs and cats!
Kinda sad to think the AVA vets are so jaded that they won't do what they can to stop the kiling!

Anonymous said...

When someone complains, ava acts to remove stray cats and dogs. 'Someone' is the catalyst.
If people learn to live with fellow creatures in their surrounding, a** 's job will be animal welfare instead of animal control.

Anonymous said...

I've been to the US 3 times and the impression I get is that Americans don't respect wildlife. They claim to be conservationists yet their highways are littered with animal corpses, while in some states children as young as 6 are allowed to kill animals for fun. (Like seriously? Would you put a gun in the hands of a 6 year old child?) I was also disturbed that crude devices like leghold traps were still legal. Screw that hype about being a "developed" nation. Many so called 1st world countries are just as rotten as developing nations in their treatment of animals.

Dawn said...

Yes it's all about learning to live with your environment isn't it?

The strange thing anonymous that I first found (and which I still have trouble reconciling) is that it seems quite a number of hunters are interested in conservation. The reason being that if they overkill, the species get wiped out. So the 'responsible hunters' are quite careful about maintaining the environment and keeping to what are known as 'bag limits'. I still don't like it and wish they would shoot something else.

As for animal corpses, I have to say that part of the reason may well be the sheer number of animals here. When I drive here in fall and winter, I have to be very careful - deer sometimes just bound out in front of your car. Also unlike Singapore, most roads here are unless they are intersections of major highways are not lit at night. I am always in fear of the fact that I'm going to hit one. Also, exactly like cats, they don't run if they see a headlight - they tend to freeze. Where I live, the road kill is then used as fertiliser for the plants.

Anonymous said...

Hah, thats nothing new...not so long ago national geographic published an article glorifying hunters as "conservationists" and good stewards of the land. To them its about maintaining a sustainable "resource", much like you would turn off the lights to save electricity, or grow trees to make paper. I don't buy this crap personally. I'd like to think animals are more than just statistics or "resources" to be utilized. That's the big divide between the pro and anti animal rights camp really. The latter thinks of animals as "objects" while the former regards them as "beings". Its too bad really.

Anonymous said...

And yeah, alot of these guys will claim to respect wildlife in an attempt to emulate some kind of pseudo-native american spiritualy. However, I don't think the animals really care whether their killers "respect" them or not. Then there is the "God gave us the right" camp and the drunken rednecks who simply do it for fun. Its really sickening to think about it.

Dawn said...

Anonymous - I think that's an interesting point you brought up. If the gap between 'usefulness' and objectification could be closed, we'd have a lot more concern for animals.

Interestingly, I spoke with someone the other day who raises cows for meat. He and his family have free range cows. One big reason they're doing this is that they don't want to eat meat pumped with antibiotics and want to know where their meat comes from. He said that he wouldn't shoot deer because it's not something he would eat. However he said if he DID eat the meat, he wouldn't have an issue with hunting them.

Anonymous said...

I think the main problem is the rural culture that associates hunting and meat eating with macho-ness and manly values, plus theres a kind of romance associated with 'living off the land'. Reality of course is quite different.

Really, many claim to be 'ethical' hunters (whatever thats supposed to mean) yet how many can claim to make clean kills all the time? How many actually bother to finish off wounded animals instead of leaving them to die? How many actually make use of the entire animal? And really, how is it possible to regulate any sort of humane practices when hunting licenses are handed out to every Tom Dick and Harry?

Y'know there was a national geographic article about Inuit narwhal hunting. The author noted that some of the animals were wounded and not killed while many of the carcasses were not retrieved. There's nothing heroic or romantic about such wanton wastage of life. Modern subsistence hunting is not what it is cut out to be.

Dawn said...

Anonymous, I don't disagree with much you have said - but a lot of the arguments which you use also apply to the meat industry. How often are animals killed 'cleanly' for meat? And how often are all the by-products used?

I am not sure also whether it's fair to say that rural culture celebrates macho-ness and manly values. I do think that living in the country takes different skill sets than what you need in the city. For example, I live in an area that used to be rural, but is changing. We still however don't have a fire department - that's pretty unimaginable in the city, but here, it's all run by volunteers and it works pretty well.

I went to Sweden and Finland a few years ago and went very far north. Over there for example, fishing is extremely prevalent, and I don't believe it's due to macho-ness. It's also not about the romance of living off the land because there really is no romance about it. I'm not sure if there really is anything ever romantic about subsistence hunting. I went at the height of summer and even then it was pretty cold at night. I think at least up there, fishing somewhat is very important to actually getting affordable, cheap meat (especially if you've seen the prices of food in Sweden).

I can't say what the majority of hunters do because I only know one who is an acquaintance and so I have no idea what the majority think. From my limited experience though, I do know that shooting and hunting are two different things. I know someone who enjoys shooting for target practice but would never shoot an animal - he shoots skeet. Another acquaintance has a very large, legal gun collection - and he is also one of the biggest TNR proponents you'd ever meet and regularly rescues kittens.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't think the meat industry ever claimed to be ethical or pro-environment. Correct me if I'm wrong. I just think there's something seriously wrong with a society where every household has a gun and landowners shoot at animals just for walking on their lawn. I'm talking about rural USA in particular, not just any old country. Hunting is a grand old tradition there, and if you've ever read hunting magazines and such, there's plenty of drivel about connecting with nature and living off the land. I don't deny that in some far northern regions like Alaska where plant foods are scarce, hunting may actually be an important source of sustenance. But in most parts of the USA where food is cheap and plentiful(and often wasted), I think that many people do it for amusement, not necessity.

Dawn said...

Hi Anonymous, well actually, there is actually a movement now to have more 'ethical' meat - ie free range for example. Also, some meat processing plants hired Dr Temple Grandin, who is autistic, to come up with less scary slaughterhouses. So I think there is an argument that meat producers are trying to be more ethical. The whole 'local' movement - ie buy from an area near you - also suggests that it is more environmentally friendly.

Again, I can only speak for where I live, and not for the whole USA, as I haven't lived in those areas. I do think however that the suggestion that everyone has a gun, and shoots everything that walks on their lawn is an exaggeration. I don't have a gun and I certainly would not shoot anything on my lawn. Nor would my neighbours. One of the things that did surprise me for example is how many people here feed animals - birds, deer, squirrel, etc. There is a huge feed store near here where you can buy food to feed all the wildlife. Alley Cat Allies found in fact that a large percentage of people they surveyed in the US feed feral cats.

I'm not saying that the USA is perfect - I don't believe ANY country is. I certainly don't support hunting but I also think that generalising isn't helpful.

Let me give an example. Lots of people say that cat feeders are (1) all crazy (2) spend too much money on cats when they can help people and (3) only care about cats. Is this true of SOME cat people? Certainly. Is it true of everyone? Definitely not. What does happen if you buy into a stereotype is that it stops communication. After all, if you bought into the stereotype, why talk to the crazy cat person when they won't care about what you say? It's easier to call your TC and tell them to get rid of the cat.

Dawn said...
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Dawn said...

Here's an article on ethical meat as you mentioned :-

I met someone a while ago who only eats meat from sources she can verify and where she has determined the animals are treated humanely.

Anonymous said...

Dunno where you stay but when I stayed in the US I saw guys in camo outfits all the time and sometimes I heard gunshots in the distance. And on the highways there were signs like "Turkey shoot on Saturday" or "Deer season **** to ****". And it's true that many households have guns. Yeah they feed wildlife. They also kill them. This guy told me that he shoots squirrels that raid his bird feeder and even brought out his gun to show us. And they are not mean people... its just that their culture happens to have a rather ambivalent attitude towards animals. I've heard of people shooting domestic pets that wander into their land...ask any SPCA worker there and tell me that isn't common. You might say that not ALL Americans are like that, but I've read enough nasty comments on websites and internet forums to form a very bad impression of Americans in general. From comments glorifying the A bomb to comments about shooting and running over animals... one really develops a dim view of human nature. Maybe I'm biased or maybe freedom of speech simply makes the scum of society more vocal...but my belief is that if people can do something and get away with it...they will. And hurting animals is something that goes unpunished most of the time.

Anonymous said...

A good old American joke:

A certain Texas school teacher administered a test to her 3rd grade class. One of the questions was as follows:

1._____ 2._____ 3.______ 4._____

67% of the class answered as follows:



Ok. I'll stop spamming this thread now.

Dawn said...

Hi Anonymous, I'm in rural Maryland - farm country really. Yes there is deer season (which just ended) and hunting season.

What I'm saying is that I don't think it's fair to say that 'everyone' is like that. I also don't believe that it's common to have people shoot domestic animals - when I did go to the SPCA and speak to ACA here, that didn't seem to be one of the major issues here. In fact, in Maryland at least if you run over a domestic animal by accident, you are required by law to report it to the police.

The same issues that apply to Singapore, seem to be more or less the same ones here. For example, what kills most cats? Complaints. People call up and ask for the cats to be trapped - not that they pick up a gun and shoot them. I don't doubt that it must happen, but then so does abuse in Singapore where people disembowel cats.

I would take internet forums with a large pinch of salt. People tend to write a lot of nonsense sometimes to provoke a response especially because of anonymity.

This doesn't happen just on the internet or just in the US either - for example when I used to mediate in Singapore, quite a number of complainants would say they were so frustrated that they wanted to kill the cats. When you spoke to them reasonably and tried to find out their concerns, usually these people fell into two groups (1) people who love to provoke a response out of you - and if you give in obviously they derive some satisfaction out of it and (2) people who are just very frustrated. There have been few I believe who actually meant it.

As for stupid comments - I stopped reading some of the local forums because of some of the truly idiotic comments there. If I believed Singaporeans as a whole really believed what some morons wrote on these forums, I would be in despair. I don't however - so I just stopped reading.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my point was that I don't believe we can tar everyone with the same feather. If we want to say that Americans are 'ambivalent' towards animals, are Singaporeans any different? You just need to open the newspapers or wait for the TC complaints to come in about cats making noise and can they all be removed (I was just forwarded an email a few minutes before writing this).

As for hunting, don't forget, it wasn't that long ago we had tigers in Singapore and they were all killed (

Dawn said...

Anonymous - I'm sure you don't take a joke as the truth. There are people who make jokes about Singaporeans too - there may be some truth in some of these jokes about any nationality, that's why we laugh. To take it as gospel though, would be doing a huge disservice.

I was watching a stand up comic the other day on DVD who only does 'racial' jokes - aimed at every race, including his own. His point is to show how ridiculous many of these stereotypes are by bringing them to their logical extreme.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. There's a book called "The compassionate carnivore" and an organization that advocates the heavy consumption of organic meat and dairy products.(I forget the name atm) I'd still rather not though. Why do people always that we are "meant to eat meat". Humans are not carnivores. We're opportunists, like rats. We eat anything.

Dawn said...

Anonymous - actually both people and rats are omnivores :)

I don't eat meat personally, but I think it's a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

Anonymous said...

No it's not a true story. It's an internet hoax. I got it off a *ahem* "outdoor sporting" website. But you get the idea. I have read that the number of actual hunters is actually decreasing every year, to the extent that the hunting lobby is actively trying to recruit new hunters. Well whatever. I hope this downward trend continues. And no, I don't believe everything trolls post on the internet, but it tells me alot about what pathetic wastes of space they are. It's also quite problematic that over there, disturbed individuals can get access to firearms much more easily. Anyway, I think people everywhere are just as bad. Singaporeans don't shoot cats but they trap them and send them to AVA since their too finicky to do the dirty work themselves. Now that is almost just as bad and happens frequently enough to be a problem.

Dawn said...

By the way, I have a bird feeder and I can see why the man would want the squirrels away from his feeder. Some of the squirrels eat up all the food AND drive the birds away, depriving the birds of food. What I'm going to do though is just set up a squirrel feeder. I'm going to have to start looking into squirrel TNR though if they multiply!

I do hear gunshots in the distance here too - there's a range for people to target practice but it's too 'populated' for anyone to shoot here (ie if there is a house within 200 feet, you're not allowed to hunt).

Dawn said...

Anonymous - I know you didn't mean it was the truth. What I meant was that I'm sure you personally don't accept a joke as being representational of the truth.

As you pointed out, hunting is on the decrease, and we are in agreement - it's not that people are better in Singapore, or the US. People are just people.

As for getting hold of guns, I think it's based on historical reasons. It's hard to then 'take back' these guns. Someone here the other day just said to me that we're fortunate to not have guns in Singapore. I'm not sure that we have less mentally disturbed individuals actually. A Singaporean friend of mine once said that based on the amount or rage he saw in Singaporeans daily, he was very very glad we had no guns.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure people wouldn't want cats near their bird baths either or foxes in their hen houses or coyotes near their sheep but surely there are solutions other than the traditional one involving a shotgun!

Dawn said...

Anonymous - also have to say, I don't think it matters to the cats how they kill them, as you rightly said earlier on. It's not as if by killing them in the 'right spirit' that the animal is any happier. If you shoot a cat, or give it a lethal injection, both are just as bad. In fact, I sometimes wonder which is worse - the actual injection, or the long scary ride back to the AVA to be killed in a van with other cats after you've been trapped.

So yes, I think hunting is bad - but I think complaints are actually way worse, both in the US AND in Singapore. A lot more animals die that way for sure.

Dawn said...
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Dawn said...

Anonymous - I'm certainly not condoning shooting squirrels, and what I meant was that I was using an alternative method. I just don't think shooting animals is the 'traditional way'. A friend of mine has chickens as pets - and they have a heated, indoor hen house to keep the foxes out at night. Another neighbour uses wire to keep the deer out. There's even a contraption called the Tilt a Squirrel, designed specifically to ensure that the squirrel can't get to the bird house without being hurt which is commercially marketed. And of course there's the Scarecrow to be used - for deer, squirrel, geese, etc.

You met one person who shoots squirrels - undoubtedly there are more. However to use this one person and extrapolate that this is hence 'traditional' is I think over-generalising.

Anonymous said...

I think government sanctioned killings are the worst of all. Why, because they can't be prosecuted and are apparently beyond reproach.

Ps. He's from an older generation. They have alot of old fashioned beliefs.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that's over generalizing. There's enough literature about America's gun culture. While your friends may not use their guns to kill animals I don't trust that all people have that kind of goodwill or restraint. Besides what else could people do in the old days before the invention of such modern contraptions?

Dawn said...
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Dawn said...
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Dawn said...

How about not kill them? :) There are lots of people who also feed squirrels in the park for example who DON'T think they're a pest. Or some people just give up. Or set up squirrel feeders or wires, or even wrap stuff around trees. It doesn't need to be 'modern' in order to involve not killing. Not everyone wants to kill.

You may have read about 'gun culture' in the US - but what about all the other information that is against hunting? And the people who don't support guns? There is a lot about that too.

I think you are also discounting all the information about animal welfare. In fact, most international animal welfare groups have a presence in the US, as does for example the Animal Legal Defense Fund (the equivalent of which I don't know anywhere else in the world).

You met one person who shoots squirrels and you some reading on the Internet and this makes you condemn 300 million people? You may say that my friends are the exception, but other than reading and this one person you know, I don't see that as being the rule. What about the internet forums about animal welfare? What about all the people tirelessly working for animal welfare here? I have to say that you are doing them a great disservice by lumping them altogether.

Also, just because you're older, it doesn't mean you must have old-fashioned beliefs. People who are younger can be extremely close-minded too.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, you must have more faith in humanity than I do. Good for you. However, I feel that there is only so much that animal activists and humane societies can do.

I never said that all Americans were cruel. What I'm saying is that a long tradition of hunting and killing animals exists in North America, whether you like it or not.

Canada was founded upon the back of the fur trade, while early American pioneers decimated the plains buffalo and hunted the passenger to extinction. In the 19th century, wolf bounties(supposedly to protect livestock) decimated the gray wolf through much of its original range. And unlike in Singapore, in the past ranching and livestock herding was an important economic activity in the USA.

On the contrary, tiger hunting in early Singapore was mainly an activity of the British elite and was never widespread. Even today some states still implement 'predator control' programns, the most notorious of course being Alaska's aerial gunning of wolves which is backed by the hunting lobby.

You might say that these attitudes are dying out, yet the hunting lobby is very vocal and retains alot of political influence. Similarly, religious fundamentalists still maintain a strong voice in politics even though more and more Americans are turning from traditional religion.
Politics are what make the laws and as long as the hunting lobby still holds sway I don't see all this killing going away anytime soon.

Dawn said...

I never disagreed with you that hunting existed, but what I disagree with was your over-generalisations. For example, you said, that "every household has a gun and landowners shoot at animals just for walking on their lawn". You only mention the hunting lobby - but didn't mention that there are people in strong opposition to hunting.

My point was that you are writing off a lot of people - including animal activists, whether or not you think they are effective - with your very sweeping statements.

As for whether tiger hunting was widespread, we did manage to wipe them all out in Singapore. Even the bison which you mentioned are making a come back - there are half a million of them now and there is a society that works on conserving them. Of course hunting was not widespread in Singapore - but I don't think it's innately that people are different, but that Singapore is a very different country. My entire point is that attitudes for example, those relating to cats, aren't very different at all.

So instead of writing people off, I think its more important to try and get to know people for more than their stereotypes. You can't hope to get to know someone unless you move beyond your preconceived notions of them.

As for my faith in humanity, let's just say that I am not surprised when I hear the worst about what people can do. However I don't think dwelling on it, or expecting things to never change is not very productive.

If you don't expect change, change will never come. It's easy to give in to cynicism - optimism and change take work. You yourself have pointed out that the hunting lobby which you said is very strong is finding they are having trouble recruiting people. If that
isn't change, then what is?

Don't forget a year ago, the USA is where a year ago many people said that they would never vote in an African-American President.

Anonymous said...

The thing is that while we can campaign and write as many letters as we like, cats and dogs are still being trucked off to AVA to be killed in the thousands. You yourself may be strongly opposed to culling, yet if your neighbor sets cat traps it's not like you can stop him from doing it. If you catch your neighbor for example, pouring hot water on rats, its not like you can do anything about it. Everywhere you go you will see instances of cruelty (eg. Town councils putting poison for pidgeons) that you cannot change. Sorry if I'm being pessimistic, but I don't think that change is coming fast enough to save the 10000 cats that are culled yearly by AVA

Dawn said...

Anonymous - you can report him if there is an act of cruelty. Or why not talk to him and find out why he's setting the traps.

By the way, poison for pigeons is illegal - and you can complain about that.

Also, it's true change may not be coming fast enough for the 10000 cats that were killed. But it did come for the 3000 additional cats that were killed every year till about 2004. The numbers ARE dropping - and it's certainly better than it used to be.

It's certainly your prerogative to be pessimistic but let me just ask one question - in the face of statistics that you yourself have quoted showing things are changing, why cling and refuse to believe that things can change? No one ever said the world was a perfect place. But if you refuse to believe anything can change (or changes too slowly for you), then why bother doing anything at all ever? At some point you have to believe in something. The fact that you are writing on this blog DOES show you care.