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You are here: Home Latest News & Articles Look at the Point Reyes National Park Service trying to vilify Fallow and Axis Deer

Look at the Point Reyes National Park Service trying to vilify Fallow and Axis Deer

Opinion by M. Ellis | May 28, 2007

Keep a sharp lookout or the Point Reyes National Seashore Park Service may just pull a fast one on you! On the other hand, Park officials' attempts to vilify the axis and fallow deer are striking locals as so lame that it would be funny if the stakes weren't so life-threatening.

"I don't want to typecast them, but they are considered a very aggressive species."

"They also tend to attack from the rear."

"When you see these large herds out there, it's just daunting."

These, believe it or not, are quotes about the deer from Park biologist, Natalie Gates, in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article.

Fallow and Axis Deer, Point Reyes, CA To the right, you will see a piece of documentary evidence. In the background, a quiet herd of some dozen fallow deer bask in the gentle, sunlit meadow. In the foreground, you will see a horse. Unlike Park biologist Gates, the horse does not appear to feel daunted, and seems to be utterly without a proper sense of fear about being attacked from the rear. All joking aside, it is idyllic scenes like these that form part of the daily life of the people of West Marin, and it is their experience of living amongst the deer for the past 60 years that makes statements like the above quotes so absurd to them.

Unfortunately, we have learned that vilification of targeted animals is one of the NPS' favorite tried and true techniques when they make up their minds to begin killing. Neither of the animals shown in this photograph taken within the Point Reyes National Seashore are what the Park would call a "native" species. However, because the Park has arbitrarily decided that so-called non-native species like the fallow and axis deer must die while other non-natives, such as horses and cows, remain, the first step toward getting the public to become indifferent to the killings is to misrepresent the targeted animals as dangerous and harmful. It's an all too familiar strategy.

When conquistadors and settlers reached the New World, they misrepresented the Native Americans as being savage and simple-minded so that it would be all right to rob them of their lands and slaughter them. When slave traders and slave owners made their market bargains, conscience never pricked them because, as everybody knew, Africans were half-human, childlike, and in need of masters to rule them. When modern countries go to war, they win the fear-based approval of their citizens by turning the enemy into a monster. The NPS knows exactly how well these tactics work and their carefully-crafted statements to the media effectively quell the qualms of any part of the public that is sitting asleep at the wheel.

We needed a wake-up call. When Channel Island National Park Superintendent Tim J. Setnicka retired from a long career with the National Park Service and subsequently published an insider's confession, it was nothing short of a miracle. Park Superintendent Tim Setnicka's article deals in detail with how the NPS crafted a media spin about the Santa Cruz Island wild pigs. The basic facts were that golden eagles were eating foxes on the island. The NPS attributed the presence of the golden eagles to the availability of piglets on the island. The NPS claimed that if the pigs were killed, the golden eagles would go away and stop preying on the foxes. In the words of Setnicka,

"To help sell the fox restoration program, for which we had no money, we came up with the media spin that one of the main reasons golden eagles reside on park islands was because of pigs. This would help vilify the pigs and help support the pig removal project."

As it turns out, the main draw to the island for golden eagles were the hundreds of pig carcasses that had been left to rot by the NPS in 1991. Cleverly, the NPS managed to get around the true facts with their devious PR campaign. They are trying to pull the same wool over the eyes of Marin citizens right now.

The unresearched and undocumented claim of the National Park Service is that fallow and axis deer are destroying the seashore and causing the population of black-tailed deer to decrease. However, as Richard Kirschman discovered after hearing these claims made on National Public Radio, the Park Service doesn't actually know how many black-tailed deer live in the region, or how many there were ten, twenty, or fifty years ago. Basically, the NPS is just making things up as they go along to support their ultimate goal of genocide of so-called "non-native" species.

The one well-documented study of these deer species that has ever been performed was done on a different population in Mendocino county. Very like the situation in Point Reyes, 53 fallow deer had been brought to the area in 1949. By 1968, the herd had grown to 300, but as the study found, the comparative impacts of the black-tailed and fallow deer were markedly different. As it turns out, the "native" black-tailed deer were doing a vast deal more damage to the local ecology than the exotic deer.

A final noteworthy tactic of the NPS has been to call up visions of feeding the hungry as a justification for killing deer. Between 1976 and 1994, the NPS shot 3,000 of the fallow and axis deer, publicly promising to donate the carcasses to a program that would feed the homeless. The Park claimed for years that 90% of the deer meat was donated to shelters. However, in 1992, the local newspaper invoked the Freedom of Information Act and dug up the hidden fact that less than 1/3 of the deer meat was given to the needy. In point of fact, the majority of the slain deer were left to rot in the Park. So, basically, the NPS lied and it comes as small surprise to read that they told the exact same lies about the wild pigs that they slaughtered on the Santa Cruz Islands. Internet research shows that the NPS and the Nature Conservancy are deceptively using the plight of the hungry across the United States in multiple cases.

The Point Reyes National Park Service has taught the people of Marin that they are willing to twist facts, run smear campaigns, and tell outright lies in order to accomplish their aims. This is not the Smokey the Bear you were raised to respect. It is time for us to withdraw our trust in these self-proclaimed stewards of our lands.

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