Letter: Hunting is the best option

By The Daily Illini

I will not try to argue with the views of animal-rights advocates who feel that no animal should be killed by humans. They have their own reasons for that opinion, and it would be futile for me to argue with them, so I will not attempt to do so here.

However, I have hunted deer for more than 12 years, with both gun and bow, and I think there is a great deal of misinformation that has been circulated regarding deer hunting at Allerton Park, and about bow hunting in particular. The statement that “bow hunting is one of the cruelest forms of hunting, because primitive archery equipment wounds more animals than it kills,” is a piece of gross misinformation. Contrary to some information that is circulating, bow hunters do not simply sling arrows at anything moving through the woods. The majority of bow hunters are quite capable of shooting with a high degree of accuracy. They generally restrict their shots at animals to distances of less than 30 yards, and they aim at specific locations on those animals in order to kill quickly and humanely. Deer shot with broadheads (sharp hunting tips on the ends of arrows) die in a very short amount of time. They do not suffer the long, drawn-out deaths that some opponents of the Allerton hunt have suggested.

The suggestion that hunting at Allerton Park is an experimental approach to deer management is also false. Whitetail deer are one of the most extensively studied species on Earth, and hunting is the primary method used throughout the United States to manage deer populations. In Illinois alone, more than 140,000 deer are killed by hunters each year. About a third of these are killed by bow hunters, who make up 43 percent of the deer hunters in the state.

Hunting is permitted on numerous public lands in Illinois, including areas close to Champaign-Urbana such as Kickapoo State Park, the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area, and the lands surrounding Lake Shelbyville and Clinton Lake, not to mention on numerous private properties. The hunt at Allerton is unique only in the sense that it is on University-owned property.

Finally, the University is well aware that the deer hunt will not be the final solution to the problem at hand. It is part of an ongoing process to manage the deer population in the park. Allerton is in no way a natural ecosystem. The large predators that were once native to Illinois were removed long ago, and without natural agents to control the deer population, the human managers of Allerton must take on this responsibility. Birth control methods, while successful for treating individual animals, have not been proven effective for whole populations of whitetail deer. Relocating deer often results in extremely high mortality rates of the transplanted animals. And to where would the University relocate deer if this was an option? Other public lands where hunting is permitted? Birth control and relocation would also prove to be extremely expensive. For the time being, hunting is likely the best option available for management of deer populations. With further research, birth control methods may become a viable option and may have a place at Allerton Park, but for the present time, hunting is the best solution we have.

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Steven E. Butler

graduate student