Monday, July 7, 2008

Bambi - a pest ?!

White tailed deer are considered a pest in most suburbs in Texan cities (and other parts of the US too). They are blamed for causing damages to vehicles due to collision, and for grazing on expensive landscaping in people's yards.

Hunting licenses are pretty cheap, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife offering annual permits for just $48. Most people I talk to approve of hunting, since it's "necessary" to keep these pests in check. Bambi - a pest ?!

The reason is that most of the natural predators of deer such as bears and wolves have been removed by humans from the lower half of the US, to make it safer for humans to inhabit the area. Since they have no natural predators, deer populations grow unchecked and overflow into the areas that humans have colonized.

With cities steadily expanding, housing developments are moving more and more into areas that used to be wilderness, and humans come more in contact with deer, coyotes and other animals that live there. We being who we are, claim that these areas belong to us and start to kill any other creature that makes life inconvenient for us.

Shrinking habitat supports smaller and smaller number of deer, and the rest need to be removed. Since we have messed up most of the natural systems on the planet, we need to "manage" land and land use by animals and by us, such that the planet is fast becoming a highly managed piece of real estate, with very tiny bits allowed to stay wild.

The place where we live is full of deer, and we often see dead deer on the road. Last winter there was a little fawn sitting dazed by the roadside. A few others had noticed it and stopped to see if they could help. We stopped too. It had been hit by a car and was bleeding on one knee and
had a blood clot in one eye.

It was disoriented and since it was late, we were worried that it would wander back on to the road and get killed. It had outgrown its spots, and didn't need its mother anymore, but it was still a fawn.

There were six of us and it was around 10pm. After going over several options, we decided that we would take turns to stay with the deer overnight, in shifts of 4 hours each. In the morning we could call Austin Wildlife Rescue who might be able to help.

While we were there, a police officer drove up, and when he found out what we were trying to do, he offered to shoot the animal - saying that's all he could do !! We thanked him and sent him on his way.

Raghav and I took the first shift and stayed with the deer from 10pm till 2am. Then others took over. In the morning we found out that the little one had walked off into the woods nearby. Austin Wildlife Rescue said that they would probably leave her alone since she was able to walk around. Any attempt to catch her would stress her out more.

What is the solution to this problem? We need to preserve pockets of wilderness all over even as cities expand, because they are home to many animals who deserve to use this space as much as we do.

If a person loved Bambi as a child, that should translate to something when (s)he grows up!


Shreyas said...

what happened to the bambi in the end?

Deepa said...

Ofcourse, we shouldn't need people to have watched Bambi in order to feel compassion for deer...! This thought about sharing space with animals really gets to me when we have to call pest control for scorpions. But I do it anyway. --Deepa

bindu said...

Of course. But Bambi here is a children's favorite and most (mainstream) children have watched it growing up, and loved the deer in it. So it is surprising to me that those same children can grow up and have no problem hunting it. Where do those childhood impressions go?