Deer Hunting in Montgomery County

Sometimes you read things that are stunning in their self parody.

Montgomery County is going to increase deer hunting. This is a welcome development. Deer are in the final analysis large rats. Granted they have better public relations than rats but they are destructive to property and they are a vector for a wide range of diseases.

As their fear of humans decreases, mostly because we don’t hunt them, they have found densely populated areas to be compatible habitats. Their population has skyrocketed, due to no hunting and plentiful food, and so has their role as roadkill. Montgomery County has the highest number of deer killed by autos in the state. In 2006, of the nearly 12,000 deer reported as killed on Maryland’s roads and highways almost 2700 of those were run down in MoCo. Even controlling for the notoriously incompetent drivers in that county, this is still a disproportionate number of the incidents.

I have to point out here that the Post descends into knee-jerk man-evil-nature-good journalism:

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Deer present a complex problem for lawmakers. More development reduces the animals’ natural habitat and drives them closer to populated areas to find food, where they can cause serious problems.

In fact, this problem was created by conservationists. By 1900 deer were basically extinct in Maryland. They were reintroduced and that project succeeded beyond even the wildest expectations. Far from reducing their “natural habitat”, legal restrictions on hunting as well as the cultural assault on the sport and the reversion of thousands of acres from farmland to forest have created the ideal environment for a population boom.

At this point you’re scratching your head and wondering about the self parody that I mentioned. Understandable. Read the linked article to the end and you find this:

Yesterday’s deer discussion at the council had a moment of poignancy as council member George Leventhal (D-At large) recalled a recent collision with a deer on the Beltway that broke several bones in his face and left him hospitalized for several days. Leventhal said he debated whether that experience might have biased him against deer and considered whether he should recuse himself from the vote [italics mine].

“I honestly believe I would vote in favor of this bill even if this misfortune had not occurred to me,” he said before voting for the bill.

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