Open Season


Donald Leal explains the economics of deer overpopulation.

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  1. > Since deer move around,
    > they can’t really be “owned”

    Ever heard of tags? Branding?

    Humans have owned roaming animals for centuries.

  2. The solution, of course, is to only allow hunting at the zoo. Your cost of admission gets you a balloon, cotton candy, a Ruger Mini 30, and a 10 shot clip. The zoo’s responsible for maintaining neccessary “inventory” levels and quality control (six pointer minimum).

    Simple really.

  3. “Ever heard of tags? Branding?

    Humans have owned roaming animals for centuries.”

    Holy shit, dude! You’re gonna go tag every deer that’s out in the wild? And keep tagging the fawns every year? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? We’re not talking about owning a herd of cattle, we’re talking about wildlife that, y’know, procreates and runs and travels for miles all on its own. But okay, just for you, I’ll modify my statement: “…can’t really be owned without developing a system for tracking them whose expense and complexity, by necessity, absolutely boggles the mind, despite the fact that such a system would have no effect on the problem, which is population control.”

    And junyo, I assume you’re being sarcastic, since the interview wasn’t “what do we do about hunting” but “what do we do about wild deer overpopulation.” That does sound like fun, though.

  4. You can’t tag fish, but ITQs work pretty well.

  5. Well yes, I was being sarcastic, and also no, I wasn’t. There’d be no need for pesky “wild” populations of anything once you started Junyo’s Zoo Safaris, LLC. Figuring out where to get breeding stock from is just another challenge for the zoo manager.

  6. How did Donald Leal get to be one of “us”?
    Who gave him the tutorial?

  7. Uh, Leal makes some good points at the end of the interview, and in the process negates the rather moronic points he made at the beginning.

    The problem is not that PA is managing the herd purely for the hunter’s benefit–the problem is that PA is managing the herd stupidly. And from from the time I spent up there, they certainly are. NJ, too, for that matter. Hunters care as much (or more) about herd quality as quantity.

    Take a look at NC for the model; you limit doe hunting to increase the population, and then you open it up when the population is where it should be. Overhunting bucks is bad for the herd, and hence for hunters; fewer bucks means less genetic competition (the m/f ratio should be about even, and stronger bucks will mate more frequently than weaker), and higher pressure on bucks means fewer trophy bucks, since they don’t get as old. The answer is just effective granting of licenses to control the herd, since hunting is the primary and preferred method of control–it’s really not complicated.

    Since deer move around, they can’t really be “owned” (all that can be owned is the rights to hunt on a particular property), and since overhunting would presumably be a problem, the gov’t does have to be involved, unless we want to allow the population to be depleted.

    And raising the price of hunting licenses because the deer population is too high? Could anything be dumber?

  8. Rob:

    “Ever heard of tags? Branding? Humans have owned roaming animals for centuries.”

    True. But the roaming animals we “own” are generally those that we have some faint hope of catching up to. Deer are simply too fast and fragile to manage by herding. Unless you count landowners with deerproof fences, a much less expensive alternative than tagging.

    Luckily, it doesn’t matter that wild deer roam. Particularly in an overpopulated area as soon as one deer roams out, another two or three will roam in. The hunter can simply select from the critters currently within range. Allowing private landowners to lease the hunting rights on their property to hunters gives everyone a winning hand.

    The primary problem here is the “we run everything” government of Pennsylvania, which is one reason the state is on a short list of places I’ll never move back to.

    The secondary problem is that the article in question is written by someone who doesn’t know enough about deer to realize that they have antlers, not horns.

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