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Citizens Protest Point Reyes Deer Massacre - Media Arrives, Killing Halted For One Day

Locals protest Point Reyes deer killings

Point Reyes, CA | January 28, 2008

Image of Axis deer, Point Reyes, CA At 6 a.m. this morning, a group of Marin County citizens and leaders of compassionate organizations arrived at Marshall Beach Road in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The road was blocked by a team of NPS vehicles and helicopters were standing at the ready to begin the slaughter of the tiny remnant of Axis deer that call the seashore their home.

The gentle and beautiful Axis deer have lived in the Park for generations and are greatly valued by both the local people and the one million tourists who visit the seashore annually. The National Park Service began killing both the Axis deer and the resident Fallow deer in the summer of 2007. The NPS hired mercenary animal killers White Buffalo, Inc., whose methods of extermination include shooting from helicopters, beating and stabbing deer to death, and suffocating them with plastic bags. A grass roots effort has devoted months and months of time in an attempt to halt these inhumane killings of cherished local deer.

Image of White Buffalo, Inc.'s helicopter Among the citizens who arrived at the Park to protest the obliteration of the herd of Axis deer were independent photographers and filmmakers, one of whom took the accompanying photo of this helicopter with the business name covered with adhesive tape. A close look shows the icon of a helicopter casting a net over a ram. Secrecy is one of the tactics used by the NPS and White Buffalo, Inc. to keep their bloody activities hidden from the compassionate public gaze.

Plans to herd the remaining Axis deer into a hole and open fire on them were temporarily put on hold today not only because of the presence of citizen protesters, but by the unexpected arrival of major media, including news stations 2, 4, 5, and 7 (KGO, KPIX).

Image of protester at Point Reyes National Seashore The protesters, described by one eyewitness as a mature and civil gathering, stood looking across the barricade at White Buffalo, Inc.'s helicopters and gunmen. Another eyewitness described the scene as frustrating while Point Reyes National Seashore spokesman John Del Osso allegedly denied that any hunt was going forward today. Both media and local protesters could clearly see evidence to the contrary.

Eventually, the helicopter and Park-owned ATVs set out in the direction of the ravine, where Axis deer were sheltering. ABC's helicopter was also on site, prepared to film the killing of the Axis deer. Witnesses assumed at this point that the massacre would now take place and the majority of them got back into their cars and headed for the NPS field office in order to meet the additional press that was arriving and to speak to Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher.

The Proposal of In Defense of Animals
Upon arrival, renowned veterinarian and president of In Defense of Animals, Dr. Elliot Katz, approached Superintendent Neubacher to attempt to negotiate. In Defense of Animals offered to buy out the remainder of White Buffalo, Inc.'s contract and add to this sum a 10% incentive in order to put a halt to the slaughter of local deer. With TV news cameras rolling and the eyes of the gathering eagerly watching, Sup. Neubacher flatly refused to negotiate.

Dr. Elliot Katz's offer to NPS's Neubacher The accompanying photograph shows Dr. Elliot Katz presenting a letter containing IDA's proposal. According to bystanders, Dr. Katz made a previous attempt to communicate his proposal to Sup. Neubacher via email, and Neubacher was heard to say that he had not received any email regarding the contract buyout offer.

"The presence of the media really put the Park on the defensive," said Marin resident Cindy McCullough. "Neubacher made it very clear that the killings will go forward."

Likely, however, it was this very element of the media that altered the Park's intended outcome for the day. When protesters returned to the Marshall Beach Road location, White Buffalo, Inc. had returned and was packing up their gear to leave with no apparent signs of the massacre having been undertaken. With the arrival of yet more media in the area around noon today, the NPS evidently decided to halt the shootings for one day.

Local Marin woman protests Axis deer killings "Neubacher is still intending to go ahead with the killings," said McCullough. "But today, we showed our strength and gained a lot of interest for what is happening here. White Buffalo is supposed to leave on Thursday, and until then, this area will be watched. We invite others to join us in our request for humane management of the deer."

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