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Letters to the Editor: Deer in Chesterfield

To the Editor:

Thank you, Charlie Young [“Chesterfield Deer Hunting,” West Newsmagazine, Dec. 5], for your insightful letter on deer. I feel the same way. I love seeing the deer in the early morning in our common ground, eating the honeysuckle and foraging for acorns.

They are part of the landscape that has been largely ruined by destroying food-bearing trees, forests, meadows and green space for the building of yet more subdivisions, highways, parking lots and box stores. After destroying the deer habitat, we blame the deer for eating expensive plantings or trying to cross roads with drivers all seeming to be in a great hurry to go somewhere. People are everywhere it seems. 

My quiet home on Carman Road has been surrounded by one housing development after another. If people drive cautiously and slow down, especially at dusk and early morning, watch for wildlife, and plant things deer don’t want to eat, things will be so much better for all. 

Hunting should never, never, never take place in a suburban environment. Deer do not belong to hunters, to city administrators or wealthy homeowners with expensive landscaping. They belong to nature and to those who love to see wildlife of all kinds that tenaciously try to survive and enhance our lives with their presence.

Maryann Mace

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To the Editor: 

This is in response to Charlie Young’s letter regarding deer populations in Chesterfield. 

We all love nature and its beautiful animals, but there is another side to our deer situation and that is overpopulation. We have a habitat that allows deer populations to grow because we no longer have predators to control deer numbers and keep those deer numbers in check. It has been estimated that there were 150,000 deer in the continental U.S. when Columbus set foot on these shores. That number is now estimated to be well over 5,000,000.

When I was young, it was quite an event to see a deer, but I can now see quite a number or them every week in my yard.

Our most serious problem is auto-deer collisions. Annually, 120  people die in the U.S. due to these collisions, and we don’t know how many people are injured or how much damage occurs to automobiles.

Deer also are vectors of ticks and chiggers. Ticks, of course, can be dangerous while chiggers are just incredibly irritating. 

Also, the damage to landscaping is intense. There really aren’t any deer-proof plants. The best we can do is plant deer resistant species, but deer eat even those and that would indicate that there is not enough proper browse to support an ever-growing population of deer. We can also spray repellants on our landscape plants, but this doesn’t solve the big problem, and do we really want to saturate our surroundings with repellants?  

The deer in my yard ate prickly holly and equisetum, a plant that no creature, even insects, eats. It is also called “scouring rush” and was used by early settlers to scour pots and pans. It was effective because its tissues contain a large amount of silica. It is not reasonable food for anything, and I have to wonder what happened to the deer that ate it.

Nature is not always beautiful and nature never allows any species to outstrip the resources that support it. 

There is a classic study of  moose populations on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Without predators, the moose population grew to proportions that could not be sustained. In the early 1920s, two biologists visited the island and took careful note of the moose carcasses. The animals had died slowly and painfully of infections, abscesses and injuries. In the words of Eric Freedman of Michigan State University, “They had eaten the greenery down to the nub.” However, in 1948 or 1949, wolves crossed to the island over an ice bridge and a balanced population of both moose and wolves was reached. 

We have a love-hate relationship with our deer, but we are not doing them any favors by allowing them to become so numerous that they suffer due to overpopulation.

In the natural world there are many facets to each situation and all are interrelated. We have changed the landscape so drastically that it has affected every creature that lives here. From the perspective of a pollinator, we have created vast wastelands bereft of nectars and pollen that they require. From the perspective of our deer, they face an uncertain future for an ever-increasing population.

We need to consider ways to return balance to our surroundings. By ignoring the problem we are not benefiting anyone or anything.

If you agree, please call your alderman.

 Carol Hazelip

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