Arguments Against Expanded Deer Hunting

Wildlife culls are not a solution to address deer population concerns.

Contrary to popular belief, culling is not a viable solution for reducing deer numbers. The deer reproductive strategy is prolific and quickly compensates for population declines. If there is less competition for existing food sources, does will bear more offspring that same year. Thus, culling merely recreates and even exacerbates the very problem it purports to solve: hunting results in more deer being born, which then necessitates increased hunting, which in turn leads to still more deer.

Bow hunting does not offer a humane solution – for people or animals.

Dozens of studies show that bow hunting causes an unacceptably high “crippling rate”—close to 50% [i]—among deer. When deer are struck by an arrow and are wounded but not killed, they tend to flee, often leaving the area where they were hunted. Part of the “sport” of bow and arrow hunting involves following a blood trail to track the wounded animal. Wounded deer may flee onto private property abutting the Blue Hills, so hunters may be forced to trespass to put the animal out of its misery. Alternatively, some hunters may abandon their tracking efforts at a property line and leave the animal to die slowly from its wound. These abandoned deer endure prolonged suffering, and passersby, hikers, and others simply trying to recreate outdoors are subject to viewing the remains of the animal when it finally succumbs to its injuries.

Hunting does not reduce Lyme disease.

The pervasive but incorrect common name “deer tick” suggests a correlation between deer and tick-borne Lyme disease and has caused communities to increase deer hunting in a futile attempt to reduce the threat of Lyme disease. In fact, there was no correlation between deer and ticks found in recent studies (e.g., Jordan and Schulze, 2005; Ostfeld et al., 2006; Jordan et al., 2007) [i]. Ticks do not require a specific host and can thrive by feeding on white footed mice and other small animals. So when deer numbers are reduced, ticks will find other hosts that can more efficiently transmit a bacterial infection to feeding ticks, which can actually increase human’s risk of contracting Lyme disease. To effectively reduce the number of Lyme disease cases, the number of disease-carrying ticks must be reduced, not the number of deer. Read a recent article on the deer-Lyme disconnect and the new book, “Lyme Disease – The Ecology of a Complex System” by Rick Ostfeld. Read more about Lyme disease and deer on our website.


[i] Gregory 2005, Nixon et al 2001, Moen 1989, Cada 1988, Boydston and Gore 1987, Langenau 1986, Gladfelter 1983, Stormer et al 1979, Downing 1971.

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