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E-M:/ Hogs; and then deer/cattle/TB and NE Michigan

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Alex et al:  Knowing just enough to be dangerous on this issue, the problem
with bovine TB in the deer herd is not captive deer, it is with wild deer that
are feeding at privately stocked feeding stations primarily on lands of
private clubs.  The intensity of the feeding brings the deer in close
proximity, which is not the case when they feed on naturally available foods.
This proximity means that isolated cases, which should cause concern, are now
being transmitted much more than they would be in a natural deer population. 

The fact that Michigan's whitetail deer population is the FIRST ever to have
bovine TB present and being transmitted in a wild population of deer is cause
for grave concern, regardless of whether it has an impact on the cattle.  The
problem reflects the outrageously out of whack nature of deer management in
Michigan now, some by intention, some by omission, that has also created
62,000 deer car collisions per year, created enormous impacts on farmers'
crops in some areas, and have pushed some of the essential species in our
native ecosystems to the brink simply by browsing.  

The problem shows us much more about the people of Michigan than it does about
the critters.  Too many Michiganders want it both ways -- farmers want to
control the deer herd but also want to sell large amounts of beets, carrots
and other food to people to feed the deer.  People don't want deer to starve,
so they feed them inappropriate food in unnatural conditions, and cause the
wild populations to be subject to many more ills, while causing greater human
impacts, thus increasing pressure to bring the herd down drastically.  Folks
think when they see a deer that it is a symbol of the wild, when in many cases
it is a symptom of idiotic land use patterns, game management that may be
closer to farming than to habitat protection, as well as the growing hunger of
the timber industry to eat up the aspen and other early successional species
thus increasing the edge deer thrive on. 

I can imagine that some will seek to equate this issue of bovine TB to the
bison in Yellowstone Park which were slaughtered mercilessly to stop infection
of nearby cattle ranches with brucillosis.  This is very different -- the deer
TB problem is almost entirely caused by human actions, while the bison are
simply moving back into their natural range and being unwelcomed by the cattle
ranchers who usurped it.  Deer and cows have lived side by side in Michigan
for generations without bovine TB -- it is the way the people have treated
deer that has allowed this problem to develop.


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