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Why we want to save the fallow and axis deer of Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

This is a relatively new blog, so my husband and I haven’t had much time yet to introduce ourselves beyond giving our thoughts on SEO and web design. Our readers are about to get to know us a bit better because of a crisis going on in one of our favorite places on the planet – the Pt. Reyes peninsula. If you have never had the pleasure of being there, words will not prove adequate in describing the awesome beauty of this seashore which is a small paradise of forests, mountains, meadows, highland bluffs and beaches. Liam and I spend hours in this haven every month, pursuing our great love of birding.

In point of fact, we were in the Pt. Reyes area this very evening, and added bird number 77 to our ever-growing life list of birds. Perhaps every human finds a favorite place in this world – a place where they feel at one with themselves and their surroundings in a manner that makes life incredibly sweet, if only for a few moments or hours. This is our place, and is fortunately just a few hours’ drive from home for us. But now we are exceedingly distressed over a decision that is about to be made to exterminate one of the precious aspects of this Californian coastal region.

For an in-depth look at what is going on, you might like to read the recent article in the Point Reyes Light – the local newspaper. For a quick recap, 58 years ago a rancher brought Fallow and Axis deer onto his land with the rather inhumane idea of hunting them for sport. He got them from the San Francisco Zoo, and they are native to India and Asia Minor. Needless to say, the deer throve and multiplied and over the past decades and have become a fixture of the region, beloved by both locals and tourists alike.

The quiet majesty of these deer makes a lasting impression on the mind. Axis Deer are somewhat similar in appearance to the fawns of ‘native’ black-tailed deer – soft brown with white spots. It is the Fallow Deer that are so especially spectacular to see amid the tall grasses and drifting fog. They are wonderful shades of brown, midnight black and ,even, pure white. I felt I had stepped into an enchanted place the first time I saw a white Fallow Deer – it was as though I were standing face to face with the unicorn of mythology.

And now, if the Pt. Reyes National Seashore Park Service gets its way, sharpshooters will invade the meadows and hills where the Axis and Fallow deer live and they will kill 75% of them. The rest will be exterminated over the next few years via birth control. The beautiful deer will be gone, forever.

Why would the National Park Service do such a thing? Because the deer are non-natives and park-employed scientists have stated that they are negatively impacting the environment. Concerned citizens and animal rights groups are demanding that more thorough research be conducted before the slaughter of the deer takes place.

I have just written a letter to the editor of the Point Reyes Light expressing my feelings about this in 250 words. Our pain and disbelief in this matter revolves around the short-sightedness of any modern human being thinking there are such things as native or non-native animals or plants. European-Americans are certainly not native to Pt. Reyes. The Miwok Indians were the long-time residents of the region prior to European colonization. And even they came from somewhere else originally. Every person living here today ended up here by a series of migrations, enforced journeys or accidents. Our planet changes because of the movements of peoples, animals and seeds. This has been going on for more than 4 billion years. This is a living planet, not a museum, not a dead thing.

The Axis and Fallow Deer have as much of a right to enjoying the bounty of the Pt. Reyes region as the park rangers do, as the locals do, and certainly as the tourists from all over the world do. Can anything be done to stop the National Parks Service from obliterating this race of dignified and gentle creatures?

Please, you tell us. We have created this section of the blog specifically so that anyone concerned can come and comment. Can anything be done to save the deer?

*Permission to use photo of fallow and axis deer graciously granted by the Marin Humane Society