I hate to be the bearer of such depressing news, but I just read about a deer culling planned to take place in Eastern Long Island that struck me as representative of a core roadblock in our communal quest to live in harmony with the earth. The Long Island Farm Bureau and the United States Department of Agriculture have set a goal to eliminate two to three thousand deer from an estimated population of between 25,000-35,000. If this goes through, it would be one of the most deadly government deer removals in history.
The reasoning? Farmers are suffering from damage caused by deers getting into their crops, Lyme disease has been traced to deer ticks, and many car accidents have occurred in the area as a result of deers on the road.
But aren’t there ways to address these issues that don’t involve the cruelty of wiping out a very large amount of gentle creatures who share the earth with us? The idea of simply taking out all of these deer because they are getting in our way seems tragically representative of a laziness and unwillingness to coexist with the planet that is at the heart of the push-back against sustainability.
Ron Delsener, a resident of the area and chief opponent of the deer culling, has been doing his best to protest through suggestions and actions promoting alternate solutions. Along with a local wildlife group, he’s helped to pay for reflectors on a busy road designed to deter deer, as well as fencing for farms. In his own garden, he’s put up fencing around what deers are likely to get into and done research to discover which plants deer won’t bother with. His suggestions for the community are ones that involve small lifestyle changes to accommodate for the heavy deer population, including driving slower to avoid collisions with street-crossing deer, planting deer-resistant flowers instead of fencing everything in and forcing deer towards the road, and abstaining from turkey-hunting since turkeys eat ticks.
In comparison, Ron Delsener’s ideas seem much less drastic than exterminating thousands of deer. They just require a little more human effort to coexist. Situations like these in which so much death is poised to occur as a result of an unwillingness to make small lifestyle alterations really shed light on the human portion of the problem facing a sustainable future. Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau and instigator of the proposed deer culling, gives a great example of this destructive way of thinking, saying that “the deer are owned by the people of this state.” It is this ideology, one in which humans sit above both the earth and its other inhabitants, which poses such a threat to sustainability. In this mindset, people should never have to make any sacrifices or adjustments in order to live in peace with the natural world. Here’s to hoping the Mr. Delsener’s of this Long Island community win the battle this time around and score one for coexistence.