Wed 29 Aug 2007
A spotted axis doe with a white fallow doe in the Olema Valley. Ever since the Point Reyes National Seashore in defiance of public opinion set out to eradicate their herds, the park administration has repeatedly contradicted itself regarding who would benefit from their meat. (Photo by Janine Warner, founder of DigitalFamily.com)
Seldom are prophecies as quickly fulfilled as one in my Aug. 8 posting regarding the duplicity of the Point Reyes National Seashore administration. Anyone who still takes seriously the park administration’s public statements might do better to take note of this chronology:
• In an attempt to sugarcoat the shooting of axis and fallow deer in the National Seashore, the park administration in early summer repeatedly told the press that dead deer would be given to the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Rafael.
• In late July as White Buffalo Inc., the gunmen hired by the park, were preparing to begin their slaughter of 80 deer, the National Seashore administration told the press that no longer were all the slain deer earmarked for feeding the needy. Some carcasses would now go to Hopper Mountain Wildlife Refuge to feed condors.
• On Aug. 8 just after White Buffalo started shooting deer, this blog warned that National Seashore statements about what would happen to all the dead deer were not to be trusted. When culling had been carried out in the park 20 years earlier, it was noted, those deer shot where the park’s hunters would have had to carry them a ways had been left where they dropped. It eventually turned out that most dead deer had not gone to feeding the needy even though the park had told the public that’s what was happening.
• The Point Reyes Light on Aug. 23 published a photo of a dead fallow deer and said members of the public had found two such carcasses in the Olema Valley. The Light also reported: “National Park officials had received word of the deer but were as of yet unable to determine who was responsible for their shootings…. There has been a history of poaching in the park and park officials noted that poaching is ongoing. ‘It could very well have nothing to do with us,’ said park spokesperson John Dell’Osso.”
• The West Marin Citizen that same day reported that someone else had found six carcasses of deer shot to death in the Olema Valley. The paper quoted park spokesman Dell’Osso as by then saying, “We’re basically stopping the work that was going on so we can look into this specific situation a bit more. If we find out this was part of our program, then it’s not acceptable.”
The Citizen also quoted Tony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo, as saying none of the dead deer found in the Olema Valley were shot by his gunmen. “He asserted that his hunters would have removed any animals they killed within a matter of hours,” The Citizen reported.
• But the park administration’s line kept changing, and by the time The Marin Independent Journal interviewed Dell’Osso for its Aug. 23 edition, the park spokesman was saying that — contrary to what he and White Buffalo had previously told the press — some dead deer were deliberately “left in the park to provide food for scavenging animals.”
This is an arrogant indifference to truth masquerading as wildlife management. In a month’s time, the National Seashore administration’s story went from: 1) all the deer meat is earmarked for feeding the needy; to 2) some of the meat will not go to the needy but will be fed to condors; to 3) rotting carcasses of deer found shot to death in the park could well have been killed by poachers; to 4) if White Buffalo did, in fact, leave dead deer lying around, that would be contrary to park policy; to 5) the park told White Buffalo to leave some carcasses strewn about as food for scavengers.
And as The Light’s photo demonstrated, the main scavengers are typically vultures and maggots. The park administration wants to increase the amount of flies around here? And is willing to withhold meat from poor people to do so?
And what about the killing itself? The Aug. 2 Point Reyes Light reported that White Buffalo’s gunmen “aim for the head because a bullet to the head kills a deer in 30 to 90 seconds.” Yet the Aug. 23 Light notes the dead deer in its photo was shot in the shoulder. And The West Marin Citizen simultaneously reported receiving photos of six dead deer that “were shot primarily in the body, which could have caused unnecessary suffering.”
Welcome to the Abu Ghraib National Seashore where only the bad guys know how bad things really are.