The Potomac Highlands Watershed School
High School Environmental Forum
Moderator's Comments 11/5/05
Here's the moderator sticking his nose into your business with a few things to think about as you begin the final week of the Forum:
Many POVs suggested the use of fences to protect sensitive lands. Have you considered that:
Many POVs suggest extending the hunting season, maybe even allowing year-round hunting. A few things to consider:
1. If year-round hunting is successful at reducing the deer herd, will hunters continue to apply the pressure needed to keep the herd small? Fewer deer means hunters are less likely to see deer when they are in the woods, and less likely to bring a deer home. Our hunters are, frankly, used to easy hunting as if they were in a game park.
2. The history of deer population in this country is instructive. Did any of you try a web search to learn more about that history? It's easy. Enter "deer population historical trend" into a Google search and lots of good information will pop-up. One of my favorites is this one right here.
3. No one has suggested allowing hunting for the market as a possible solution. Just mentioning such a thing can drive professional game biologists into a rage. That's because of the history. Do you know anything about that? Could market hunting be managed in a way that it could become part of the solution?
You had some truly excellent discussions about reintroducing wolves and mountain lions. A few thoughts:
No one took a swipe at the Deer Advocate. Sad. The Advocate may have said one or two (or even more) things that weren't quite true, maybe even intentionally to see if you were paying attention. Scientists never meekly accept what other scientists say. They poke and prod and look under the covers. I'll just about bet that your teachers would consider giving you extra credit for an accurate deconstruction of the Deer Advocate's POV.
You all probably noticed that I used quite a few links to various Audubon organizations, studies, and articles? The reason is that Audubon has a well deserved reputation for developing pragmatic policy positions based on good science. It doesn't mean they are not advocates for a certain viewpoint, in their case to conserve and restore natural ecosystems. But they don't let their personal wishes and biases (we all have them) obscure objective fact. I think that is how all policy should be developed.
During the final week of the forum, your challenge is to remain advocates for your stakeholder group's interests, but also to develop a deer management policy that serves all of society and is based on the facts you have uncovered over the last two weeks. You must balance economic, cultural, emotional, and intellectual considerations and produce a just policy.
This business of forming effective policy in a democratic system is hard stuff. I'll end with this quote from Ted William's "Living with Wolves:"
Can you do better?
- Neil Gillies, Cacapon Institute