Opposition group to urban hunting joins the debate

Friday, February 3, 2012

There's a new set of players in the ongoing discussions about how to handle Cape Girardeau's growing deer population.

Good.

It's about time someone saw the light.

The Deerslayer Seven, the committee appointed by the city to make a recommendation regarding the deer, has appeared to be leaning toward managed deer hunting in the city. Not all seven members concur, apparently, but, still, you can't take any chances.

So a new group is organizing to oppose deer hunting inside the city limits. This group points to the potential hazards of a well-intended but poorly aimed arrow.

When the Deerslayer Seven talk about deer hunting in the city, they aren't talking about an actual season when everyone with a gun or bow and arrow would be allowed to roam sylvan neighborhoods stalking prey.

No, the hunting would be managed. "Managed" is a word with lots of meanings, but in this case it means allowing only hunters who are trained to deal with pesky whitetails in urban settings.

"Urban settings" has many meanings, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't include my backyard -- even though I would welcome and encourage anyone with a deer-killing device to come take as many shots as needed to eliminate the pests that consider my yard to be a well-stocked rest area.

I am particularly glad that there is a group opposed to hunting deer, because it leaves open the door to the many alternatives to reduce the number of deer that menace motorists on city streets and raise the blood pressure of gardeners of every stripe.

You already know about my plan to introduce mountain lions to our wildlife menagerie. We already have coyotes baying at the moon inside the city. This community singing is little more than a prelude to a full-fledged hunt for food, and deer tops the list of good eats for coyotes.

Also near the top of the list are family pets and small children, but don't worry about them. If we know the coyotes and mountain lions are roaming our neighborhoods because they're officially sanctioned, we will become better parents and grandparents. Neighbors will offer safe havens when marauding packs of hungry coyotes or sneaky mountain lions go after a deer here and there. That's the American spirit. That's what made us great -- at least those of us who were fortunate enough to survive.

That's the way it's always been: survival of the fittest. Surely we can endure a few attacks from mountain lions and coyotes in order to preserve the balance of nature within our incorporated borders. We have survived pestilence, wars and deep-fried candy bars. Surely we can cope with nature at work.

Or ... we can let trained professional hunters selectively kill enough deer to reduce or eliminate the problem.

Right now I'm voting for mountain lions and coyotes. Once they eat all the deer, of course, we'll have to appoint another committee, the Lionhearted Killers, to deal with fat predators who find it difficult to distinguish between wild pests and innocent spaniels, terriers and toddlers.

Well, we can load that gun when the time comes.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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