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The Therapy Sessions
Saturday, December 06, 2003

Who Would Have Thought? Hunting Works!

Amid much debate, Pennsylvania revised hunting regulations to let hunters thin out the huge deer herds in Pennsylvania parks. This decision was greeted throughout much of the state with a shrug.

In Philadelphia, it was hugely controversial. Hunting was crueler than starvation and it wouldn't work, activists said. They have tried to prevent ANY hunting in Fairmount Park and Valley Forge, both infested with herds of starving deer.

Listen up, Philly:

The next day, teams of wildlife officials started dropping in on hundreds of butchers across the state. Working on bloody barrels in freezing coolers, they tried to determine whether the deer brought in for processing into steaks and sausage were any different than last year. They had hoped that the males would be older, meaning they had lived longer and grown larger.

They were.

'I've never seen anything like it,' said wildlife biologist Gary Alt. Bucks at least two years old made up more than half the deer Alt examined at butchers in Wayne and Pike Counties. That compared with 15 percent in past seasons, he said, when the vast majority of kills were yearlings.

The early numbers surprised even Alt, who drew up and heads the Pennsylvania Game Commission's deer-management program and who spent thousands of hours persuading skeptical lawmakers - and their powerful hunting constituency - to give it a try.

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