Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deer Season In Cayuga Heights: Closed Before It Ever Opens?

This morning, WHCU covered the deer problem in Cayuga Heights, with a proponent of a hunting program (the village's mayor), and an opponent.

The conclusion we reached is that a safe shooting program is problematic to design, impossible to guarantee, not likely to solve the problem, and politically unfeasible.

The mayor says safety is no problem, as the hunting will be done by skilled marksmen. But there is no training program for hunting in densely-populated neighborhoods. Surely Cayuga Heights doesn't want to be the training ground where suburban shooters learn from mistakes.

The mayor says that culling the deer herd is the ecological thing to do, as the herd is surpassing its capacity to feed itself. But the deer wouldn't be breeding if they weren't eating; and killing a lot of them quickly would only create a surplus of food, with the population eventually rising again to the same threshold.

No one denies that the herd is dangerous to drivers. But the level of deer-related accidents has not increased dramatically in the past decade. Traffic implements are available to decrease the danger on roads, but the mayor says the devices are aesthetically unappealing, which seems a funny thing to care about if you are concerned about saving lives.

Finally, the shooting campaign is politically unfeasible. This became clear to us when the mayor refused to disclose which locations would be used for shooting. He said as a safety matter he wouldn't discuss it and would never discuss it.

WHCU's host, Dave Vieser, asked if residents wouldn't need to know where the shooting would be done, so they could stay away? And the mayor said no.

We quickly realized the real reason not to discuss where shooting would be done is because activists will go there to impede it. So either there are stealth shootings, or confrontations between angry citizens and people with guns.

Thanks to WHCU for a discussion that brings clarity to the issue.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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