AWI and Wildlife Preserves, Inc., filed suit against the National Park Service and the superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) on November 29 over a wildlife management plan that calls for killing many of the seashore’s white-tailed deer. The NPS is proposing to fence a section of FINS to exclude deer and then reduce their population through sharpshooting, capture and euthanasia, and public hunting. The fenced area includes land Wildlife Preserves once owned. Two deeds, in 1955 and 1966, transferred the "WP Tracts" first to another organization and then to the NPS.
A major issue with the NPS deer-killing management plan, however, is that the deeds came with a clear stipulation that the land must be maintained as a wildlife sanctuary. As stated in the 1966 deed, the WP Tracts were to be kept “in their natural state and operated solely as a sanctuary and preserve for the maintenance of wild life, and its natural habitat, undisturbed by hunting, trapping, fishing or any other activities that might adversely affect the environment or the flora or fauna of said premises.”
The deed restrictions aren’t the only obstacles for the NPS plan. The deer cull also runs afoul of federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NEPA, governmental agencies are required to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of any major federal action and consider reasonable and feasible alternatives.
The NPS obviously hasn’t looked very hard—else it wouldn’t have turned a blind eye to immunocontraception, a form of birth control that has proven effective in regulating the populations of many wild species—including deer. In fact, NPS, we invite you to turn to page 20 of this issue, where we discuss some of the latest, intriguing developments in immunocontraception use. Certainly, an alternative that employs humane birth control is both feasible and vastly more reasonable than mass animal slaughter within a wildlife sanctuary.