This past week, I was driving down a commonly used side road and had to bring the car to a crawl because of a young white-tail deer in the road. With the sun shining on the road and the colored leaves floating to the ground around it, my immediate reaction was saying aloud, "Aw, it is gorgeous". I sat in the car, almost at a complete stop, for a good two minutes watching this young deer walk along the yellow lines in the middle of the road with no intention of hurrying or getting off of the road. Unaware of what triggered the change in my thoughts, I finally realized that this is not how it is supposed to be. I should not be the one changing my plans of driving down this road to my destination because this deer feels like walking on man-made roadways. The deer did not appear graceful and mesmerizing anymore but rather seemed like a nuisance and an obstacle. Sometimes when we see nature out its normal habitat, like deer in roads, it may appear picture-worthy or exciting. However, if this becomes more of a habitual occurrence, we need to acknowledge the fact that this is not right and that a kind of imbalance in nature or another factor is causing this problem.
The streets are not the only places that deer have been invading. Two years ago an incident at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium was caught on tape of a deer jumping over an 8 foot fence and a 20 foot ledge into a polar bear pool.
Although this may seem like a rare event, the zoo claims to get about two wild deer on the premises every year. This example should generate concern as to what types of businesses and areas that can be affected by a constant rise in deer populations.
So, what is the best way to inform others of the problem of deer overpopulation? How does one get across to others the importance and urgency of this issue in certain areas? An Audubon article by Ted Williams starts by saying, "A killer is on the loose in our forests...There's only one way to protect yourself, your family, and native ecosystems from the most dangerous and destructive wild animal in North America, an animal responsible for maiming and killing hundreds of humans each year, an animal that wipes out whole forests along with most of their fauna...I'm talking about the white-tailed deer." Ted Williams uses very powerful language at the beginning of the article with the apparent purpose of scaring others of deer overpopulation. Another article that uses this fright tactic, even in 2001, was in Reason Magazine. It starts by asking what the most dangerous non-human mammal is and dismisses the options of grizzly bears and mountain lions only to state the answer: Bambi. The use of "bambi" instead of "white-tail deer" blatantly addresses the common public misconception that a deer is a lovable and gentle animal, when the author actually believes it to be the most dangerous mammal.
Scaring people by using threats to human life is one way to draw attention to a problem but it does not have to be the only way of informing others on the severity of a problem. There was a very effective article last year that addresses the problem of deer overpopulation in Southern Maine. It clearly states at the beginning that there is a problem with deer populations in the area and uses numbers to state what the population level should be. I feel that this article relates the problem to the public just as well as the fright tactics used in the other two articles.
Despite whichever journalism approach used, the fact remains that the issue at hand of deer overpopulation is present and needs to be recognized. It is necessary to think of the range of this problem, from roadways to forests to zoos. This is not a localized issue that affects only a certain group of people in a certain area. Research this topic on your own, choose which articles you prefer, and become aware of the problem.
I am a senior undergraduate at Barnard College-Columbia University majoring in environmental biology. I feel a strong connection to the environment having grown up along the Delaware River in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. It is about time that people become aware of the relationship between human activity and environmental problems. I have no prior experience with blogs or journalism but feel it important for people to share and communicate current and important environmental issues. This is a great resource to inform others on topics with which they are not necessarily familiar. I strongly believe that we all need to work together in educating each other and taking action to combat pressing environmental concerns.
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