I have seen two dead deer on the roadsides this week. That is not uncommon these days. When deer and cars collide, it does not go well for either.
Fifty years ago there were no deer in North Georgia. A combination of loss of habitat, and the need of rural Georgians to supplement their diets with hunting and fishing had wiped out the deer population. (The massive poverty in the south as a result of “reconstruction” was still in effect.) Only a small herd were left in the Coastal Islands of Georgia. Otherwise, the state was void of the tasty woods dwellers.
With the loss of their primary food, North Georgia also lost its two top predators, the big cats, (Mountain Lions or Cougars in the north, and Panthers in the south) and the grey wolves.
Around 1960, the state game and fish people decided to restock the deer population in North Georgia. As the cotton fields were planted in pines, and many farm families found work in town, habitats suitable for deer started to return.
A 20-foot high fence was built at the zoon in Athens covering about five acres. A small herd of deer were captured from Blackbeard Island and kept in the fence over the winter to allow them to adjust to the North Georgia climate, then released into state parks or national forest in the area. This practice continued for several years.
The game and fish people were so pleased with the results that they added wild turkey to their efforts, again with quite a bit of success.
By 1990, the local deer herds were well established. By 2000 they had become a problem. There were far too many of them! Encounters between deer and cars became common. Farmers were experiencing damage to their crops, especially soy beans which had become popular n the area.
You see, when they re-established the deer population, the neglected to re-establish their predators. The big cats and wolves did not return. That left only one major predator to control the runaway deer population — us rednecks.
Now every fall when deer hunting season opens, we here objections from tree huggers and such about cruelty to animals. Constantly, they complain about rednecks in the woods with high powered rifles shooting at anything that moves. Well, the deer population has to be controlled. If not, then the damage to wrecked cars, and the damage to our food crops will continue to grow. Deer will exhaust natural food supplies and start to die from starvation.
Deer hunters help prevent these problems while stocking their freezers with high quality protein and lowering their food bills. At the same time they are feeding their families without depending on tax dollars.
So to all you gun control protesters and tree huggers, leave the hunters alone. They are doing you a big favor by protecting the highways, food crops and green lands from overpopulation of deer. Instead of griping and interfering, you should be thankful for their efforts.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
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