Protesters Use Extreme Tactics Against Princeton Deer Hunt

The New York Times this week published an article documenting the extreme tactics taken by protesters opposed to Princeton, New Jersey’s controversial deer cull. The situation there has deteriorated to the point that animal control officer Mark Johnson has taken to wearing a bullet proof vest after an altercation with a protester.

Princeton has a major deer problem and several years ago hired a company, White Buffalo, to reduce the deer population. The year before White Buffalo was hired to thin the herd, there more than 300 deer died in automobile collisions.

White Buffalo originally used sharpshooters to kill the deer. It quickly switched to a net-and-bolt method, however. The deer are lured into a trap and a net is then thrown over the animal. A shot to the head from a bolt gun is used to kill the animal.

The protesters claim that this method is cruel, but White Buffalo argues that most deer die within 30 seconds and all deer killed this way die in less than 90 seconds. The company kills 200-300 deer this way. The charge that this is a cruel method of killing is a bit odd given that the alternative is large numbers of deer dying in automobile collisions which does not exactly sound like a humane death (especially since it can frequently take a very long time for injured deer to die this way, especially if they are able to leave the scene of the accident).

And, of course, animal rights protesters have resorted to the extreme tactics that their opponents have become so familiar with. For example, somebody spread deer entrails over a car owned by the husband of Princeton mayor Phyllis Marchand. This was accompanied by a note protesting White Buffalo.

Another protester is accused of hitting animal control officer Mike Johnson in the chest. Johnson was trying got arrest the protester for contaminating one of the deer traps when the alleged assault occurred. For good measure, somebody also poisoned Johnson’s dog, which later died. Fearing for his safety from animal rights fanatics, Johnson has taken to wearing a bullet proof vest while discharging his duties as an animal control officer.


Protesters against Princeton’s deer hunt turn increasingly nasty. Maria Newman, The New York Times, March 5, 2002.

PETA Says It Will Sue New Jersey Over Deer/Car Accident

On November 16, 2001 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activists Dan Shannon and Jay Kelly hit a deer while traveling in an automobile owned by PETA. PETA’s legal counsel, Matthew Penzer, last week faxed a notice to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife declaring their intent to sue the state of New Jersey for contributing to the accident through their deer management practices.

In a press release, PETA outlined its legal strategy,

PETA argues that by placing the interests of hunters, who amount to barely more than 1 percent of New Jersey’s population, above the safety of the more than 8 million New Jersey residents and countless out-of-state travelers who use the roads, wildlife agencies are violating the state’s constitutional mandate to provide protection and security to its people. PETA also opposes the fear, the disruption of herd members’ relationships, and the bloodshed suffered by deer on grounds of cruelty to animals.

In a letter to Bob McDowell, director of New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Penzer wrote that,

. . . shortly before 1 o’clock in the morning on that date [Nov. 16, 2001], while driving a Honda Civic belonging to PETA (and while returning from a PETA campaigning tour) southbond on the New Jersey Turnpike, a deer darted out in front of the car and a collision resulted. . . . Damage to the car was severe, resulting in a repair bill that exceeded $6,000.00 and loss of use of the car for nearly two months. The total amount of damages is, as yet, unkown.

The best way to describe this is frivolous.


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Is It Time to Return to Market Hunting?

Market hunting does not exactly have a great reputation. Although today deer are extremely plentiful, by the late 19th century market hunting had driven deer populations to extremely low levels, estimated anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 animals in the continental United States. The Lacy Act of 1900 effectively ended market hunting and in the 20th century deer populations exploded. In a recent article for Reason magazine, Ronald Bailey argues that it is time to return to a form of market hunting to rein in deer populations.

As Bailey notes, the overwhelming number of deer in the United States cause significant damage. Somewhere between 100-200 people are killed every year in accidents involving deer, and total collisions between deer and vehicles is estimated at as many as 1.5 million. Deer carry the ticks that cause Lyme disease, they damage agriculture, etc.

Bailey runs through a number of possible solutions to reduce the estimated population of 27 million deer. Many animal rights activists favor using methods that inject contraceptives in deer. That may work well in some areas, especially on urban lands, but will never be a viable solution for controlling deer population in wild areas.

Bailey also cites an interesting program in Wisconsin where a hunter must kill two does before they can shoot a buck. This has the effect of both reducing the number of fertile females, while also causing testosterone levels to rise in bucks (who are now competing for fewer females), which makes them better trophy animals. Bailey reports there are preliminary results indicating this does in fact lower the deer population.

But Bailey seems most fond of a proposal by Donald Leal at the Political Economy Research Center to reintroduce market hunting. Currently it is illegal in the United States for a hunter to sell venison, which Bailey notes leads to the absurdity that all venison served in U.S. restaurants comes from places like New Zealand. Leal would have state game commissions explicitly set maximum herd sizes. Then a system of individual tradable quotas would be used, much like those used in some areas to manage fisheries, would be sold to hunters, and others.

Animal rights activist would oppose this, for obvious reasons, but as Bailey notes so would many hunters and game commissioners who have interests in maximizing the size of the deer population.


North America’s Most Dangerous Mammal by Ronald Bailey, November 21, 2001.

No Bow Hunting on Sundays?

One of the most ridiculous appeals this writer has seen from an animal rights group was issued recently by the League of Animal Protection Voters which wants to make certain that bow hunters in New Jersey cannot kill deer on Sundays.

Apparently, at the moment it is illegal to bow hunt on Sundays in New Jersey, which is absurd. I’ve heard of places where you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays, but hunt? Stuart Chaifetz, a co-founder of the League of Animal Protection Voters, claims that the ban on Sunday bow hunting is needed because Sunday is, “The only day in which they [families] have to walk peacefully on our woods.” Chaifetz notes that two people were recently killed in hunting accidents in New Jersey.

But if the goal is to save the lives of innocent people just trying to enjoy themselves, New Jersey would be better off banning a truly dangerous activities like swimming on Sundays, rather than bow hunting.

The League of Animal Protection Voters’ real agenda, of course, is an outright ban on hunting, period. In its press release opposing a bill that would eliminate the no hunting on Sundays rule, the LAPV argues that,

Bow hunting is barbaric entertainment that best deserves to reside in the dark ages, not in the 21st century and not in a country that deems itself humane. We must not only defeat the Sunday hunting bill, but we must as a people turn our eye and conscience to this most bloody and unnatural ‘sport’ and defeat it as well.


League exposes brutality of bow hunting, opposes bill that allows bow hunters to kill on Sundays. League of Animal Protection Voters, December 6, 2001.

Scientist says maybe deer hunting isn't cruel after all

Last year the National Trust in
the United Kingdom prohibited Hunting on its land after a study by Patrick
Bateson, a professor of animal behavior, claimed hunting subjected Deer
to incredible level of stress and, therefore, was cruel. In mid-September
Bateson was forced to revise his views to conclude that hunting is not
necessarily cruel.

Bateson, for example, originally
reported that deer subjected to a hunt suffered extensive muscle damage
caused by severe stress. A study by Roger Harris of the Royal Veterinary
College disputed this claim along with a claim Bateson made that stress
from hunting caused red blood cells in the deer to break down.

Perhaps Bateson’s most stunning
claim was that the stress deer experienced from predation by human beings
was unlike any sort of stress deer would experience in a natural environment.
Harris’ study, however, found no evidence of this and concluded that the
stress deer experience during a hunt is not fundamentally different from
other forms of stress.

As a result of Harris’ study, Bateson
and other researchers signed a 9-point statement issuing specific modifications
of the findings of their original research, although Bateson said he still
feels hunting is “knowingly cruel.”


“Professor revises view on deer hunt cruelty,” Charles Clover, The
Daily Telegraph, September 15, 1998.

PETA pushing fishing ban, hermit crab ban, deer slaughter ban, and "Monkey Shorts" ban

On July 17 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent Gil the Fish
to lead a protest against fishing in Watertown, New York. In a press release
PETA gushed on about the horrors of fishing. “Fish feel pain — they
have neurochemical systems like humans and sensitive nerve endings in
their lips and mouths. They begin to die slowly of suffocation the moment
they are pulled out of the water.”

As Ingrid Newkirk summed up PETAÂ’s
view, “Animal suffering of any kind is not a sport.” PETA wants
a national ban on fishing enacted.

If it is wrong for fish to
suffer is it okay to shoot bears and birds that might eat fish?

In other PETA-related news

  • PETA urged people to send letters to Sundial Beach and Tennis Resort
    on Sanibal Island, Florida, because an “Ecocenter” there sells
    hermit crabs. According to a PETA release, selling the crabs is “disrespectful
    and ecologically unsound.”

  • PETA demanded Sea Pines, South Carolina, abandon plans to kill 200
    deer who are destroying plants in the area (selling crabs is unsound,
    destroying flora is perfectly acceptable.)

  • In a bizarre twist, PETA wants Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS)
    to stop running a series of short spots called “Monkey Shorts.”
    The shorts feature chimpanzees and orangutans dressed up as different
    characters who move their lips and move around the screen as a human
    voice over plays. The shorts are shown between TBS feature movies. According
    to PETA, “even the most considerate of trainers cannot compensate
    for the anxiety and frustration of such an unnatural life in captivity.”


Giant “fish” to tackle fishing in Watertown. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 16, 1998.

Help stop the sale of hermit crabs in Florida. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.

Help protest the slaughter of deer at Hilton Head, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.

Urge TBS to cancel ‘Monkey Shorts,’. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, July 1998.