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.