Audubon Society supports killing of Point Reyes Deer, angers members.
- Audubon <http://www.americanbirdguide.com/wordpress/?p=66> Society supports
killing of Point Reyes Deer, angers members.
June 4, 2007 on 2:43 pm | In Sonoma
<http://www.americanbirdguide.com/wordpress/?cat=5> County Wildlife |
If you're like me, you've always been a big fan of the Audubon Society.
They've been around forever, they publish beautiful bird guides, and they
have terrific local chapters across the U.S. The Audubon Society depends on
members' dues and donations in order to publish their magazine, fund their
conservation projects and maintain their standing as America's most famous
and popular birding organization.
Unfortunately, the Audubon Society is rapidly losing member support here in
the San Francisco Bay Area of California because of a decision made at an
official, Marin Chapter Audubon Society level about a local issue which
local people feel very strongly about.
Here are the basic facts:
* For generations, the citizens of Marin County have benefited from
the presence of the small herd of beautiful Fallow and Axis Deer that were
brought by humans to the Point Reyes National Seashore in the 1950's.
* The National Park Service will begin killing the deer this summer of
2007 via methods that include gunning down from helicopters, hunting with
dogs and beating and stabbing the deer to death.
* The National Park Service claims that the deer are harming the
environment and threatening the Black-tailed Deer that also live in the
* The National Park Service has refused to spend the time to actually
study whatever effects the Fallow and Axis deer may be having on the
ecology. They do not have any figures for how many Black-tailed Deer live in
the park, nor how many lived there 50 years ago. Rather than study the
animals and act as the good stewards of the land they are employed to be,
they simply want to kill the Fallow and Axis Deer.
* Officials at the Marin Chapter level of the Audubon Society have
announced that they support the inhumane, hurried killing of the Fallow and
Axis deer. Local members of the regional chapter are in disagreement about
the position the board of the Marin chapter has taken and have voiced their
lack of support for this policy.
* The Marin Humane Society, In Defense of Animals, WildCare and Dr.
Jane Goodall have all pleaded with the NPS to adopt a policy of humane
management, not extermination of these deer which are so highly valued by
local citizens and the 2.5 million visitors that come to the Point Reyes
National Seashore annually.
* The people of West Marin have created a group called Friends of the
White Deer <http://www.fotwd.org> . Their efforts have included gathering
thousands of signatures, holding meetings with the Park officials and
posting signs all over their villages asking for humane management of the
* The NPS and the conservation committee of the Marin Audubon society
is refusing to listen to the needs and wishes of local people, and the
killing is set to begin this summer.
Fallow Deer, Point Reyes, CA.
It is my belief that the National Audubon Society and all of its chapters
should take the position of protecting and cherishing life, not destroying
it. If the size of the Fallow and Axis deer population needs to be managed,
it can be done with humane contraceptive dart technology. The NPS is
authorized to do this, and already practices humane management with the Tule
Elk that also live in the park.
I am offended that the Marin Audubon Society, a group I have always
respected, has so far ignored the position of the highly-educated local
members and the people of West Marin who have lived with these deer for half
a century. The Marin Audubon Society should listen to the wisdom of its
local members who love and know their regional environments, and who do not
support the committee's desire to see the deer inhumanely slaughtered. The
Audubon Society only exists because of the support of local people across
the land, and our words should be important to them.
*Editorial correction: It was my initial understanding of this case that
support of killing the Fallow and Axis Deer of Point Reyes had been given by
the Audubon Society at a national level. Thanks to Glenn Olson, Executive
Director of Audubon California and Graham Chisholm, Director of Conservation
& Deputy State Director, Audubon California (see comment below), I have been
able to clarify that neither the national nor state level Audubon Society
has taken an official position on the slaying of the deer.
I have also had the opportunity of speaking with Barbara Salzman, President
of the Marin Audubon Society. She confirmed for me that the position
announced in support of killing the deer was taken at a local chapter level,
not a national or state one. According to Ms. Salzman, this position is not
the result of a vote amongst the members of the local chapter, but rather
the result of discussion amongst the conservation committee. Ms. Salzman
indicated to me that if they had to take the view of all the members into
account, they would never be able to reach an official decision.
It is little wonder, then, that Marin Audubon Society members are upset by
the committee's stance. In the words of member Jeanne Emmons Cohn of San
"Environmental groups are being lobbied to go along with these deer
killings. I implore commissioners to look into alternatives that would
prevent annihilation of the whole group of deer."
In light of the fact that the official position of the Marin Audubon Society
is based merely on the decision of their committee, rather than on a
democratic vote of their members, I believe it is all the more imperative
for dissenting members to speak up and withdraw their support from a group
that is not ethically aligned with their own beliefs about the humane
treatment of animals.
What you can do
Visit Friends of the White deer at www.fotwd.org to read further about this
If you fund your local Audubon Society chapter, begin a discussion with
other members about the inappropriateness of this organization becoming a
supporter of inhumane species extermination.
Consider withdrawing your membership and funding from your local Audubon
Chapter, and send them a letter explaining that you are doing so because the
Marin Audubon Society has ignored local citizens' request for humane
management, not extermination.
If you donate to the National Audubon Society, consider writing to them to
explain that you will not be continuing your financial sponsorship of their
society because the local chapter of the Marin Audubon Society is supporting
species extermination and ignoring local members' needs.
Please consider writing or emailing the following:
National Audubon Society:
National Audubon Society
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 979-3000
Fax: (212) 979-3188
711 University Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95825
Glenn Olson, Executive Director
Madrone Audubon Society
PO Box 1911
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Sylvan Eidelman, President
Napa-Solano Audubon Society
PO Box 5027
Vallejo, CA 94591
Cheryl Harris, President
Marin Audubon Society
48 Ardmore Rd
Larkspur, CA 94939
Barbara Salzman, President
My husband and I have spent hours amongst these rare and beautiful deer and
have come to love them. Our joy in birding, and the reason we run Birding
Sonoma County, is founded in a deep love of the natural world and a respect
for all life. We are ashamed to see the Marin Audubon Society officially
supporting violence and respectfully request that they remember that the
society exists because of the interest and activities of citizens at a local
level. We believe that the people in the committee which makes policies for
the Marin Audubon Society should be guided by a democratic poll of its local
members' positions, not by the decision of a chosen few, and that the
tremendous local outcry against the slaying of the deer should be taken into
account by any local wildlife-oriented society.
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