January 16th, 2021

Deer cull would not be justified

By Letter to the Editor on May 13, 2020.

Donald Trump could not have said it better. I am referring to Al Barnhill’s attempt to justify a deer cull within the city (April 30 letter to the editor). That deer do indeed carry disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD) and Lyme disease (LD), is not in question. But here is the thing. CWD can only be acquired (if at all), by eating meat from infected deer. LD is acquired via ticks from contaminated deer but mostly from rodents. Not transferred through the air as most (but not all) viruses. Deer do not harbour plague bacteria.

Simple prevention – don’t eat deer meat and check for ticks.

Barnhill reminds us of the plagues historically having swept through Europe. No mention that the same disease currently exists in the southern states and elsewhere, being transferred via small rodent fleas, exactly as 14th-century London – the difference now being the plague is treatable. But in the interest of public safety, here is a list of animals that should be culled along with the deer population:

Coyotes/foxes (rabies), racoons (canine distemper), turtles (salmonella), rabbits (tularaemia), every species of bird/domestic horses (West Nile virus), all warm-blooded animals (anthrax), beef (BSE), wild fowl (influenza), rattlesnakes/black widow spiders (venomous) – the list is endless.

Since our ancestors left Africa over 60,000 years ago, we have contended with disease, some of animal origin but most of human origin (smallpox, measles, etc.) and we have dealt with them, more or less without becoming extinct.

The writer’s idea to “cull the herd” because of the aforementioned diseases and other unnamed scourges is without foundation.

Culling on the scale he suggests has consequences: Because “nature abhors a vacuum,” the area will repopulate soon and many could be killed in the process of rounding up. The impact of large introductions in another rural area would have devastating local results.

Mr. Barnhill seems to forget that we are living in their backyard, not the other way around. He is rightly concerned with animal transfer (zoonosis), so, perhaps he will consider donating to the World Wildlife Fund, helping eliminate “wet markets,” plus the illegal trade in exotic live animals and their parts.

I encourage all recipients of the aforementioned letter to seriously question the writer’s reasoning and to consider the impacts of such a pogrom. If the writer really wishes to remain healthy, then avoiding that other animal responsible for most human diseases would be respectfully advised. That “animal”? Humans!

John P. Nightingale


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thank you, jpn. your on the mark entry should help remind us all that human hubris is perhaps the greatest threat to the living planet.

Seth Anthony

Well done John.