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“Instead of stating that I was anti-hunting or opposed to hunters, I should have said that I am anti-killing and opposed to killers. The choice is really between endorsing the infliction of pain, suffering and death or opposing the infliction of pain, suffering and death.” -- Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd captain (See him on “Whale Wars” on Animal Planet)

Deer are a power animal representing gentleness and peace. Deer medicine draws one into the magical forest to appreciate the wonders of wild native nature, to harm no living being, and to awaken to a fragile world ensouled. Deer teach the ability to sacrifice for the greater good. A deer herd is made up of several families, alerting each other of danger, protecting one another, and sharing in feast and famine. (They are socialists!)

Does keep their fawns secluded and hidden, close to the earth, to ground their subtle energies and gather strength for an alert fleeting life. We can learn to protect our own children and safeguard them from a chaotic world, until they are strong enough to bear our demanding culture.

In Buddhist tradition, deer symbolize longevity.

In Wisconsin, deer are the symbol of the hunt.

“We need hunters to keep the deer numbers under control.” There it is -- the BIG LIE. This year the Department of Natural Resources quietly announced that it would grow the deer herd another 175,000. Think farming. Wild native nature is forfeit to yet another crop. Dick Hemp, involved in deer management during the critical years 1943-1984, put it this way: “To some of us it was obvious that the deer herd, expanding rapidly under bucks-only seasons, had to be cropped back … to others, it appeared equally convincing that harvesting does and fawns meant the end of the deer herd.”

The deer herd was manipulated to grow from 200,000 in the 1960s to 1.7 million by 2000. As one reader wrote, “ The role of the DNR is to appease hunters and promote hunting.”

High deer populations provide a smoke screen, wrongly convincing the public that all killing is done to control over-population. Seasons on beavers, bobcats, snowshoe hares, grouse, quail, and foxes are provided regardless of small or dwindling numbers, many with no bag limits. One of the most telling but unsurprising discoveries in researching the DNR is that outdoor biologists “must support the agenda of the department” as a prerequisite to hiring. A skewed science is purchased to rationalize the exploitation of our wildlife for the elite few. The environment could not survive all of us doing the damage of these hunting enthusiasts.

We need dramatic restructuring of the DNR, turning away from killing to saving what we can. We need democracy.

John Muir called hunting “the murder business.” When he met Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite Valley, he asked him, “When are you going to end this infantile obsession with killing animals?” It will end only when the general public cares enough to organize and participate in political process.

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March columns will explore this year’s proposals up for public statewide vote and invite you into that process. Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Monday, April 11, when what hunters call “the most important election in the state” will be held in every county. It is your birthright. The DNR, with staff chosen to represent hunters, has been complicit in hiding these secretive policy meetings and elections for 77 years, with just their hunting/trapping customers. Over that time, they have stolen our public lands and wildlife. Sensing an awakening public, they are ramping up efforts to secure the balance of our state parks, and enshrine their control in state statute and constitutionalized power. (They are imperialists!)

Paul Watson, captain of Sea Shepherd, has been standing against the Japanese whaling fleet to protect our whales. He resigned from the national Sierra Club board of directors to protest their spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to recruit hunters into membership. Watson’s resignation statement, “You can’t love and respect nature with a gun,” is worth watching:

“Life is to be cherished, protected, defended and championed, not to be wantonly and cruelly destroyed, and certainly not for so frail an excuse as pleasure or sport.” -- Paul Watson

March 6 column: One trapper’s perspective

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife.

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