In his blog on Friday, Mike Cazalas, managing editor of the Panama City News Herald, wrote about recent “deer-on-human attacks” (as well as a few incidents involving wild turkeys). Although his writing was tongue-in-cheek, he was serious about his main argument: thanks to hunters, “very, very few of you were attacked and injured by deer or turkey last year.” Cazalas wrote, “We do our part to make sure you sleep a little more safely. There is little or no thanks for our work, some even call us killers.”
Yes, hunters are killers (how could they argue that they are not?), but they are not deserving of our appreciation. In fact, it is solely due to hunters that Florida has a large deer population.
Last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released its “Strategic Plan for Deer Management in Florida 2008-2018.” According to the plan, one of the main goals of FWC’s deer management efforts is to “meet the publicís desire for recreational opportunities.” In other words, maintaining a deer population large enough so that hunters are able to kill over 100,000 deer each year (small deer population = unhappy hunters).
We know Mr. Cazalas was trying to be funny, but if deer really were a public safety problem, it would be easy to quickly decrease Florida’s deer population by allowing hunters to kill female deer (does) and young males (antlerless deer). Instead, during Florida’s main hunting season– the general gun season in November and December– hunters are only allowed to kill adult males (bucks).
The FWC also boosts deer reproduction by supporting land management programs targeted at improving deer habitat, and by encouraging people to provide “supplemental food” for deer (which can mean dumping a pile of corn or soybeans in a field).
So if you are ever attacked by a deer (and they have good reason to be angry at us!), you can thank a hunter.