Sunday, March 10, 2002

There’s plenty of laughter and a little sadness in the hunting community over an incident involving a deer that collided with an automobile driven by two animal rights campaigners who belong to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The folks who worship at the altar of animals now want to sue a New Jersey game department over the incident, claiming it’s the state’s fault that it happened.
No, this is not an April Fool’s joke April is still weeks away. Besides, our newspaper frowns on such things. This is the real deal.
On Feb.14, PETA legal counsel Matthew Penzer sent a letter to Bob McDowell, director of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, that said, “Pursuant to New Jersey state law, this will serve as notice that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Dan Shannon and Jay Kelly each reserves the right to bring an action for damages and/or injuries sustained in an automobile crash on November 16, 2001. Shortly before 1 o’clock in the morning on that date, while driving a Honda Civic belonging to PETA and while returning from a PETA [anti-hunt] campaigning tour, southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike, a deer darted out in front of the car and a collision resulted. The collision occurred at or near mile marker 15.4 in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County. Damage to the car was severe, resulting in a repair bill that exceeded $6,000.00 and loss of use of the car for nearly two months. The total amount of damages is, as yet, unknown.
“PETA, Mr. Shannon and Mr. Kelly believe that this collision, which occurred near the start of New Jersey’s hunting season, was caused by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife Division and the Fish and Game Council as a result of their deer management program, which includes, in certain circumstances, an affirmative effort to increase deer populations. Despite the known dangers an increased deer population poses to motorists in the state, the Division and Council actively assist in increasing the deer population for the purpose of enhancing hunting opportunities and license revenues. The result, as was the case here, is a significant number of auto-deer collisions each year, causing significant injuries and property damage.”
Penzer even went so far as to write a pretty good press release rehashing the deer vs. car incident that said, in part, “PETA saw red and it wasn’t just the blood of the animal [that was] fleeing hunters’ guns.”
We have no idea where Penzer received his information about the deer fleeing hunters’ guns. How could he know that, since even he said the crash occurred “near” the start of the New Jersey deer season. In other words, the hunt had not begun, so where are the deer “fleeing hunters’ guns” coming from? And is he aware that during cool November days, a deer more often than not will be involved in chasing after a potential mate, not worrying so much about hunters.
On three separate occasions during the past deer rut, which normally coincides with the Maryland and Virginia hunting seasons that I participate in, I spotted bucks with their noses to the ground, ignoring everything and everybody as they followed the scent of a female. One of the bucks did this with such haste that I nearly collided with him 200 yards from my home a week before the gun season began. In other words, there were no hunters “chasing” anything, but we might have had a dead deer all the same.
Not only that, one must wonder whether PETA is aware that 99 percent of all deer hunters wait for their deer, not chase them, knowing that would be sheer folly. Additionally, when a hunter happens upon a deer and it runs off, it will stop running within a couple hundred yards, so the argument that a gun-carrying hunter was doing his thing before the season began and so close to one of the busiest highways in the nation is more than suspect.
Now here comes the inevitable Walt Disney-zation of animals: PETA says it “opposes the fear, the disruption of herd members’ relationships and the bloodshed suffered by the deer on grounds of cruelty to animals.”
Deer aren’t much interested in an elephant-style mentality that includes deep, emotional care for related herd members. To talk of “relationships” among deer is stretching things. And as far as the bloodshed is concerned, it is indeed a pity that the deer died and nobody thought to try and save as many steaks and roasts as possible but instead allowed good venison to go to waste.
What a pity.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Friday only in The Washington Times. E-mail:

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