Wednesday, January 29, 2014

24. HR-1944

Mark Lee recognized a "Trexler Ploy" when he saw one.  The term was coined by him for the event the moment he saw it.  The event occurred at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland, Ohio.  

He read about it in the articles presented by Google's automatic search alerts on the key words "deer cull".  This new crop of articles reported that the white-tail deer population at the Cuyahoga park had exceeded the carrying capacity of the park's ecology, considering which a "conservationist cull" of 50% of the park's deer population was being planned, to be performed by members of the Ohio Bow-Hunters Association (OBHA).  Though called a "cull", it would be administered no differently than a hunt, including licenses and fees charged against the "cullers".

On the same day, he received an email from a local anti-cull group, asking for his assistance and direct intervention, which said in part: "... We are aware of your terrific invention called the BDS.  We feel that it would be our most potent weapon for NON-LETHAL deer population management.  We would like to invite you to give a presentation to the Department of Natural Resources, expenses covered of course..." - the last little bit meaning no fee, which was fine by Mark, since he always served as a volunteer for those non-profit organizations that sought his assistance.

He wrote back, "I would be delighted to give the presentation, but not to the DNR alone.  If you could line up a presentation to the congressperson of this area, with the DNR invited if they wish to attend, I would do it."

One week later, Mark was informed that an audience had been granted by Congresswoman Joyce Moran (D-OH), and that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would be present.

On the day appointed, Mark stood in front of a panel of government officials, in and out of uniform. There was a group of about a hundred people demonstrating outside with NO-KILL placards facing the TV cameras in his support, three members of which were allowed in to see his presentation.  He was granted 30 minutes including Q&A.  

Mark wasted no time.  "Ladies and gentlemen, what I have to present today applies to national parks, state parks, municipal parks and the urban and sub-urban residential areas as well.  All of these areas have been taken over by bow-hunters as agents for the 'culling', and, at least in the urban and suburban areas, where the shooting occurs in people's backyards.  Children have been known to be traumatized at the sight of arrow-wounded deer and deer dying of arrow wounds at the foot of their swings.  And this should be a fairly common sight, considering that the non-lethal wounding rate of bow-hunting in the 80s and 90s was in the region of 50%, though given new archery technology, the percentage has decreased to around 30-40% in recent years.  Further, stray arrows could become a very real safety issue.

"In all cases, the idea of culling as a mean of population control is self-defeating, but self-perpetuating, often on an annual basis.  This is due to the Compensatory Rebound Effect (CRE), whereby a sudden reduction in population creates a super-abundance of food for the survivors which leads to a high reproductive rate - from less than one fawn per doe in food-shortage times to doublets or triplets in times of plenty, due to which the population will rebound back to the original level same time next year, if not higher.  And the culling will have to be done year after year.  

"But then. of course, if the real reason is to open up urban, suburban, rural and park areas to bow-hunting, and have it be self-sustaining, this would work, and they could make it work even better by artificially boosting the deer population by means of rich food-plots planted with highly nutritious deer clover.  

"So, it depends on how honest you are with your real motive.

"If you insist that it is a matter of deer population control and habitat protection, the following is what you CAN do without resorting to bloodshed, backyard hunting, endangering the public and traumatizing children.  

"And it will work even better, because it can accurately maintain a below-capacity population so that all, including the environment, will benefit.

"You might now be certain that where I'm leading to is Immuno-Contraception (IC), and indeed, my device can make the administration of IC much more efficient and much less expensive, but I will demonstrate that not even IC is needed in this method.

"What I am here to talk about is a brand new idea, using a very simple physical construct.  Period.  It does not involve bullets, arrows, or even vaccines.  It is a very simple device known as the Buck-Doe Separator (BDS).  I conceived of the idea in India, and proven its worth at the tiger reserves.  The challenge was that the Chital deer living in the park often spill out to raid surrounding farmlands.  My challenge was to round up the extruding deer and return them into the depths of the park by truck.  The trick was of course to catch all the deer. 

"What I did was to build a tennis-court-sized enclosure with chainlink fencing near a high deer traffic area, and install several well-spaced one-way gates opening inward.  Then I put bait inside the gates, and just waited.  Within days, the enclosure would be full of deer.  
"As applicable to the Cuyahoga case at hand, an acre-sized BDS, or bigger, could be built with deer fencing at or near the deer-population-center in the park, half in forest and half in meadow if possible, with inward-opening one-way gates along the fence-line.  Use corn piles as bait inside the BDS at the one-way gates.  Build it after the bucks have sprung antlers, but before the rut.  Restrict the width of the one-way gates so that only does and fawns can pass through, but not antlered bucks, including those of only 1.5 years.  Thus, the does that have entered the BDS will not be impregnated.  It then becomes the simple question of how many does to allow into the BDS for the fall and winter.  With the reduced deer population outside of the BDS, the integrity of the park's ecology can be preserved.  Of course, the deer inside the BDS will have to be supplement fed in the mean time to preserve the ecology inside the BDS, but that is a very small price to pay.

"Expense-wise, it will be the cost of building the BDS upfront, which can easily last 25 years with nominal maintenance, plus some feed.  The whole set up can be operated by one person, and at that on a part time basis.  The only decision to be made is how many does to be quarantined in the BDS.  When that number is reached, the one-way gates are locked.  End of story.  

"I will now take questions."
Senator Joyce Moran gamely led the charge, "Thank you, Dr. Lee.  I confess to being a little stunned by the simple elegance of your system."

"Thank you, Senator."

"Just a question, if I may.  Has it been used before in the United States?"

"No, it has not."

"And why not?"

"Opposition from the hunting community, which controls the DNR, mainly."

"There is a hunting community right here in Ohio, Dr. Lee.  Aren't you doing the same over again and expecting a different result?"

"Could be, Senator, but then, there is one difference here that wasn't there before."

"And what is that, Dr. Lee?"

"You, Senator," said Mark without forethought.  Then he expanded, "There are hunting communities all over America, Senator Moran. It has to start somewhere, and Ohio is not a bad place to start.  If you fail, it would cost you the price of building the BDS, a mere pittance for your budget.  If you succeed, on the other hand, it would make Ohio the pioneer and leading force in 21st Century wildlife conservation history."
Mark's proposal was accepted by Senator Moran in principle, but blocked by the DNR, which was "of the hunters, by the hunters and for the hunters".  Case closed, yet again.  But this time the result would indeed be different.

"I am considering to sponsor a bill for the elimination of culling as a method for deer population management.  But I will need to have you as my star witness if I do," she said to Mark in private after the dust had settled.

"I will be happy to be of assistance in any way I can, Senator Moran."

"Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Dr. Lee.  I'll be in touch." 

The bill number, when it obtained one, was HR 1944.

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