Animal Population Control

An analysis of Kristof's article [NYTimes, login required]

I felt that Kristof's essay about controlling deer populations through hunting was quite entertaining, and as a bonus, it informed me of a few facts I was not previously aware of.

Because of the humorous tone, as well as the lack of counter-research (showing exactly why other solutions do not work, rather than just making fun of them), I think it would be difficult for this essay to convince an avid animal rights advocate to take up hunting as a recreation, or even support extended hunting. Luckily, I do not think that these people were Kristof's intended audience. Rather, I believe he was aiming for the upper middle class, who is conscious of animal rights, but can see that hunting might be a necessity in certain circumstances.

I was personally astonished that deer would be a leading cause of death in any category, and was dubious when I read Kristof's assertion. It would have been a good idea to spend a little more time establishing a fact that seems so astonishing at first glance. Part of my suspicion was caused by his qualification of category: large, North American mammal. What constitutes "large"? It seemed to me that he was purposely limiting the scope of his question to disclude other obvious answers. But, after doing some research, I found that deer related automobile crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the united states. The runners up in ALL animal categories are Bees/wasps/hornets at 48 deaths per year and dogs at 20 deaths per year [cite]. It would have been a better argument to state that deer are the largest cause of ALL animal related deaths, even above venomous insects. This would have had more impact as well as reducing confusion about which animals Kristof was including.

I would be very interested to see how the number of collisions with deer correspond with the deer population in each area or state. Would reducing the number of deer significantly reduce the number of deer related fatalities? According to the CDC, there are about 20,000 non-fatal car crashes involving deer every year. [cite] I think this topic deserves a more serious look rather than just an off the cuff solution, even if it ends up being the easiest one to implement.

Another point, according to the IHEA, about 1,000 people are injured while hunting per year, and almost 100 of these injuries prove fatal. [cite] If the number of hunters rose, it follows that the number of hunting related injuries would also rise.

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