Cruel killing of DuPage deer
Friday, January 20, 1995
Daily Herald Editorial
If deer must be killed to protect the forest ecosystem, their death must be quick and painless as possible. Yet one method the DuPage County Forest Preserve District has been using to dispatch deer is plain hellish, not humane.
First, an area is baited with corn. They the deer, drawn to the bait, hear the sound of explosions as nets are launched in the air. The animals struggle under the nets, bucking wildly and bleating as people approach them. They are killed with bolts that are powered into their skulls.
You don't have to be an animal activist to be sickened by this method of killing deer. But it was animal activists who brought this method to the attention of forest preserve district commissioners, via a videotape shot secretly at a DuPage County forest preserve.
The forest preserve district has questioned whether the people on the tape are actually district workers, or if they were applying radio collars to the deer, not killing them. Moreover, the district maintains the bolt method is rarely used.
But the videotape has left enough doubt and revulsion to warrant an immediate cessation of the net and bolt-to-the-skull method. Indeed, the forest preserve district commissioners have ordered a halt to this practice. Sharp shooting snipers still will be used to kill deer, but the district will review their work to see if it is humane.
The deer population is getting out of control in the suburbs, and that presents problems ranging from destruction of vegetation that other animals need to survive, to dangerous deer-automobile accidents. There is little doubt that the deer population needs to be thinned, and then kept under control through use of dart-induced contraceptives. But the deer should not be made to suffer torture and painful death.
One alternative the district might explore is to allow bow-hunting. The idea is not far-fetched; suburbs in the states of New York, New Jersey and Georgia are allowing big deer herds to be hunted with bow and arrow. It is safer than shooting a deer, as the effective killing range of a compound bow is 50 yards, while a bullet fired from a high-powered rifle can be dangerous up to a mile away.
Animal activists, though, are not going to like bow hunting, either. A deer hit with an arrow can die a slow death from blood loss.
But there is certainly a need to assure that the methods being used to kill deer in DuPage County are humane. Killing deer may be necessary, but it need not be cruel, even if unintentionally so.