Hit & Run

Steve Chapman on the New Case for Hunting

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Rock Island, Ill., a city of 39,000 on the Mississippi River, offers the latest urban amenity: deer hunting.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region/Flickr

Last month, the city council voted to allow bow hunters to harvest a species that has grown too numerous for comfort. Excessive deer herds have thronged yards, decimated landscaping and damaged cars in unplanned collisions. "We had reports of groups as big as 17," Mayor Dennis Pauley told me. So come Dec. 13, licensed hunters who meet a proficiency requirement and obtain a permit can hunt in approved places from elevated platforms (to assure that misfired arrows go harmlessly into the ground). The program follows similar ones in the nearby Iowa towns of Davenport and Bettendorf, which have culled hundreds of animals and apparently succeeded in reducing their deer populations. Rock Island is responding to a common problem. But city-dwellers are not known for being fond of blood sports. Steve Chapman argues that hunters, tree-huggers and animal welfare advocates should actually be allies.