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March, 2008



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Moo Town News
By Judy Borello

"And then there were none"
The prejudice against non-native species and the calamity over the massacre of fallow and axis deer in the Pt. Reyes National Park has disgusted and sadden me for a long time, and I've finally collected my thoughts enough to write about it.
I recall in sophomore year in high school reading a short story in literature class entitled, "And the World was Purified" by Westbrook Pegler. The gist of the story illustrated man's inhumanity through prejudice and bigotry, telling of a clash between the races that became so petty that the freckled and the non-freckled waged war. The story ends with the extinction of mankind, and the beasts roamed the earth in peace and the world was purified.

Point Reyes National Seashore's program to slaughter these deer illustrates man's senseless inhumanity to innocent creatures. The reason for the annihilation of the fallow (beautiful white species) and axis (handsome, majestic spotted species) deer is that they are non-native and rob the feed of both the native species and the cows. The fallow and axis deer have been there since the 1940s, long before the Park was even conceived. And they roamed the ranchlands for decades, hunted by ranchers who kept their numbers under control until the federal government stopped them. Taxpayers who bought and paid for the National Seashore love to come and view these noble creatures, which are a big draw for the Park visitors. It would be a shame to exterminate them.

The anti-non-native Park hierarchy deems the deer offensive after 60 years and wants them all dead! Is the Park playing God? Yes. And because they are purists in their campaign to rid the Park of non-native species, we'll likely eventually see programs for the elimination of eucalyptus trees, starlings (birds from England) and other exotic species. They might even try to bring back the native bear, which would definitely reduce the population of the deer herds (not to mention the cattle)!

Instead, the Park, in all its lack of wisdom, hires the Connecticut-based White Buffalo Inc., spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars to brutally slay the deer, leaving them half alive in the brush, using a new contraceptive that causes internal abscesses, and dragging does into barns to cut out their ovaries. So unnecessary, and oh, so cruel. (I would like to commend Richard Kirshman of Dogtown, who has been very vocal against this atrocity since its inception.) The ranchers say it's a mess out there, with helicopters flying overhead inducing panic in the deer and the cattle, White Buffalo hunters running down roads near ranches with guns a-blazing, and frenzied deer crashing into barns and fences, trying to take cover from the onslaught.

This is man at his worst, with a completely insane solution. The real solution is very simple, makes total common sense (probably why it won't be used!), and won't cost taxpayers a dime: Allow the ranchers in the Park to purchase hunting licenses and hunt the dear. A lot of the ranchers are very skilled hunters, having been raised on ranches and taught from a young age how to handle a gun and respect their prey using efficient tracking methods and swiftly dressing the game. Deer numbers would be controlled and the remaining deer would be healthy, happy grazers.

The ranchers could consume the meat, give it away or sell it; either way it's certainly fair and humane compared to leaving suffering animals rotting on the ground. Ranchers could farm them as they do their cattle, selling the venison to local restaurants and markets. Deer meat is high in protein and low in fat, and doesn't contain toxins and additives. It might even qualify to be certified organic. Since we pride ourselves as locavores, what could be better? In any case, it's a preferable solution to completely wiping out the non-native herds.

By the way, the prejudicial attitude against non-natives reminds me of the way West Mariners treat human newcomers. With our obsessive, unfair "not-in-my-backyard" and "I've-got-mine-but-you-can't have-yours" attitudes, we citizens have allowed and encouraged our county government to throw up every conceivable roadblock to prevent "outsiders" from moving here. From zoning regulations that virtually prevent new homes, to the shortsighted, misguided zeal for easements that permanently lock up people's property rights, we are blocking future generations of ranchers from being able to sustain agriculture on West Marin lands.

P.S. Instead of taking people's private property rights through a building moratorium based on false science, has anyone realized that the main reason for the low salmon runs is the proliferation of carnivorous black bass, bluegill and croppies preying on Coho salmon smolt in Papermill Creek - a phenomenon that has happened since the screens and traps at Nicasio Dam were removed? Replace the screens and traps! Another common sense solution overlooked.

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