Deer 2


On the Politics of Killing in the Cleveland Metroparks

The preceding poem was written about deer I knew well, which were murdered by the Cleveland Metroparks in 2000 and 2001. This park system has killed somewhere over 2000 deer in the Cleveland Metroparks since 1998. The deer were killed late after midnight. The park system used police blockades to block roads, police cars sitting at entrances to areas, preventing anyone form coming in.  It reminded me very much of murders in the Jewish Ghetto's during World War II, which were also conducted in secret, in the dark after midnight, supervised by a police blockade. This campaign of killing deer was conducted over a number of years and is still ongoing. The park claims that the "sharpshooters", all of them belonging to Anthony DiNicola's company White Buffalo, kill the deer instantly. But this is a lie. The lie is proven by secret videos taken of deer killed near Akron by the same company that show their inhumane practices. A deer is shown browsing, then getting shot by one bullet and falling. Over a minute later, the deer is seen still struggling as a shooter places a plastic bag over its head. It is clear that the deer continues to struggle as it dies of suffocation, which lasts even as they carry the deer off screen. This practice is disturbing, cruel and inhumane.
      I kept asking myself, why did the kill my beloved deer?
      My outrage about this was not shared by many other people. Indeed, I found that even in the Environmentalist and to a degree, in the Animal Rights communities, there are few who care about the killing of deer. It became clear to me that this insensitivity toward this animal is culturally conditioned and goes back hundreds of years, deer being considered fair "game" animals. In England deer were owned by the King, who punished those who killed "his" deer. In America deer are big business---a source of income for state "game" agencies, who sell the right to kill them in the form of a license. The fact that there was so little protest against an atrocity committed by a local park system having murdered 2000 animals concerned me, since it implied tacit consent to the murders. Why would so many good people, even those who care about the environment, birds, or animal rights, be silent when this atrocity was committed?
     As I looked deeper into the issue, I learned that a hatred of wild animals is endemic in society and that this hatred is organized into political policies and state agencies who act out deep prejudices against animals such as deer. I feel it is important to chronicle this, since it is so ubiquitously ignored by the society as a whole. Yet it reveals much about what this society is. It is not so very long ago, 100 years, since lynching of African Americans was supported both locally and politically by large numbers of people. Others, who were not actively involved, gave tacit approval to those who actually did the lynching. African Americas were lynched as a backlash against the emancipation after the Civil War. Whites felt that they should not have equal rights, and black men, in particular, were punished for imaginary infractions against white society's belief in its own racial superiority. The basis of this racism was economic, of course, since the ethic of slavery held that only whites were real people and blacks were considered non-persons whose existence depended on their slave labor.
    Deer are in a somewhat analogous position in that they are essentially economic slaves to state game agencies. They exist largely to be killed by hunters for pleasure, both private business and the state making millions of dollars as a result of product  and license sales. However, in current ethical parlance, deer are not "morally considerable" in the same way that ex-slaves were 100 years ago. The rights of deer are much harder to assert than the rights of ex-slaves. The reason for this is the speciesist prejudice that only humans are worthy of moral consideration.        
    So, in asking the question, "why did they kill my beloved deer?", it began to dawn on me that it is not just endangered or threatened species one should consider, but the common and overlooked species. How what is common and ubiquitous is treated is far more indicative of what is wrong with current society that how the rare and unusual is treated. Our society will pretend, however hypocritically, to help endangered frogs in Utah, or Condors in California, but common species like Coyotes, Deer, Squirrels,  or Mourning Doves are shot, harassed, driven from habitat.
       Deer are not even close to being endangered in the eastern states of the US. Most people are happy when they see them and think them beautiful. Only about 5% of the population are hunters and see them as something to kill for pleasure every hunting season. It is a sign of the corruption of the state game agencies that 5% of the population dictates over 905 of the state game agency agendas. But I understand that the state game agencies are corrupt, my concern was not hunting. I am not a hunter and think hunting for pleasure is sadistic, morally unjustifiable and unethical.  I wanted to know why the deer I loved were killed so unnecessarily and gratuitously by the park system. They were innocent, they harmed no one, why were they killed?
       My study of this atrocity began after they killed my beloved deer and her fawns, who I had know intimately for a number of years.  I first began trying to determine what the park system thought they were doing and talked to people who work for the park. I determined that the original motive for killing deer had to do with the Park management people, all of whom were older, and all of whom remembered a time when deer were largely hunted out of Ohio and numbers were low. The higher numbers that have been seen since the 1990's offended their sensibility which had been conditioned by their being no deer. Deer had been hunted nearly to extinction by 1900 and their populations had been slowly built up since then. These park managers had a nostalgia for certain wildflowers, like Trillium, which were more plentiful, they claimed, when there were less deer, and wanted to see more of them.  They determined to kill deer for no other reason that the very subjective and jaded perception that deer are "pests", and that it would be nice to have more flowers, and conducted various studies designed to prove that deer eat flowers.  Of course they eat some flowers, they are ungulates, and almost entirely vegetarian. But at what point does this eating of flowers become problematic?
      Given the fact that there were once 50 million deer east of the Rockies, and now there are about 14 million, and plants like Trillium not only thrived then, but continue to thrive now, the belief that there are "too many deer" is absurd. There are too may humans who allow too few deer or Trillium to live unmolested in wild places. The problem is not deer, but the alienated mentality of a capitalistic society that does not know how to live in harmony with North American ecologies, and for more that two centuries, has decimated the north American continent with unsustainable exploitive practices, and harmful systems of urban design and agriculture.  Trillium survived countless millennia alongside great herds of deer, buffalo, elk, and pronghorn wandering in marvelous herds rivaling the great African plains. The decreased deer herds, like the decreased trillium and other wildflowers, and due to the destruction of habitats by Euro-Americans since the European invasion of the 16th to 19th centuries.
     Flowers were not a good enough reason for killing deer, particularly when plants like Trillium are not endangered in Ohio, and can be found in many places, including in the Metroparks. There are a few species of endangered trilliums, but these occur in southern states, not in Ohio. So sentencing deer to capital punishment  for browsing wildflowers was not convincing to any but the most malicious and gullible. There were many protests against the first killings by the park system.
       So if the main reason for killing deer was not primarily about flowers, why did they kill my beloved deer? Historically, deer, birds and trillium lived well together, in large numbers and the only factor that has changed since 1500 is the large-scale destruction of habitat by humans. So I began looking at where they were killing most of the deer and it soon became obvious that most of the deer killing was occurring in areas south west and east of Cleveland where there has been increasing urban sprawl, developers profiting from cheaper lands outside the city, beyond the suburbs.  They were building mostly expensive houses ("McMansions") and strip Malls for the wealthy in a city whose population has been dropping for decades . Building out into the country at a time of human population decline made no ecologic sense, and was motivated purely by greed. The developers were destroying open spaces, and further fragmenting forest areas adjacent to farming areas. Deer  and birds were taking refuge in the smaller and smaller number of wild areas in the increasingly urban Metroparks. The deer were being surrounded by developmental  greed. The deer were increasingly forced to live in proximity to suburbs, and the owners of new houses, ignorant of which plants deer will eat and which they will not eat, were losing their expensive plantings. Deer were moving into suburbs and the Metroparks because the forests are all but gone, and they were forced to move by over-development. To blame deer for this is unconscionable. The fault is entirely human and it is the mentality and developmental practices of humans that should be changed.
       In addition to over-development, the other main factor in increases in deer populations is that the Ohio State Game Agency  (Ohio Division of Natural Resources, "Division of Wildlife" (ODNR)) has been promoting the growth of deer populations throughout Ohio for decades, since they profit from selling licenses giving the right to kill. So the deer were caught in between the greed of developers who create urban sprawl and the greed of the death merchants of the ODNR. In short, deer are scapegoats for various forms of greed.
     But these major reasons for killing deer went virtually unmentioned in the local press. The park was not able to float the public relations idea that deer had to be killed for the sake of some wildflowers, so they began trying to prove that the deer had to be killed because they are harming bird populations. A supposed local bird expert, a woman named Lisa Petit was trotted out to do a study to prove the already decided upon "fact" that deer harm bird populations. Using rather trivial and suspect methods she came up with the "proof" that deer may be harming a few species such as Acadian Flycatchers, Hooded Warblers and Robins. Old records show that the first two species never were plentiful in the park, and the third species is ubiquitous, perhaps indicating that the researcher did not have good vision, or her binoculars were cracked. There are Robins nesting throughout the park system. But never mind the truth, corrupt science must serve politics, so the park announced deer must be killed to save birds, just as Vietnamese villages had to be carpet bombed to save them for freedom.
       Of course, on some level even the park system bureaucrats knew that this was bogus science, and that they had not proven that  plentiful deer destroy wildflower and nesting habitat for birds. If one traces the thesis that deer harm birds or forest plants back through sources, one finds that the thesis partially originates with the US Forest Service. For instance, Forest Service researcher David DeCalesta,  advocates "total eco-system management", as well as promotes the idea that deer and other forest animals are "pests" who need to be removed because they harm logging company profits by eating saplings of hardwood trees on public National Forest Land. The truth is that the forest service has aided logging companies in cutting so much public forest that there is little forest left, and the deer are being scapegoated because the logging companies have destroyed this "resource".
       Private logging companies are able to exploit public forests because of corruption in the US government, which has allowed rapacious cutting of our trees on our lands by private companies. This puts the issue in some perspective. My deer were killed because it is a fashion  in "ecosystem management"--- a fashion that is the result of corrupt science---  to see deer as pests, who stand in the way of human exploitation of land, be it an aesthetic exploitation-- the idea that nature exists for human enjoyment, or purely capitalist reasons, namely, that deer are a drain on logging company profits. My deer were murdered as part of a fashion of fad in the "wildlife" management community that sees nature in human-centered terms, as either being a zoo for human enjoyment or a "resource" to be exploited for private profit.

       The local Metropark were concerned to follow  the fashions of "Wildlife management". Deer are being killed in and around every major eastern US city for the same reasons they are killed in Cleveland parks. Following the fashion, the Park managers had carefully exempted  many important factors from their  studies. Never considered were the effects of pollutants and acid rains on wildflowers, or the destruction of wildflowers by invasive species, particularly the species homo sapiens, creeping into the park from the suburbs. Never considered was the destruction of bird nesting areas by the excessive recreation, (golf, biking, joggers etc.) that the park promotes. Nor the fact that bird habitat is being destroyed through the areas where they migrate, from Peru to Canada. Never considered were the effects of forest fragmentation and surrounding habitat destruction on birds. Most especially the park had not done any studies on the destructive effects of developers building suburban tract houses and malls, highways and parking lots right up to the edges of the wild areas in the park. Nor had they studied the destructive effects of water pollution and waste water treatment plants dumping human waste or chlorine and other chemicals into the eco-system. They had not measured the destructive impact of the millions of visitors that swarm through the park every year, in cars, bikes, or on foot.
     There are not "too many deer" but rather too many developers, too much destruction of wild or open habitat, too many suburbs, too many people who do not know how to live with animals. It was not deer that had forced declines on birds and wildflowers, but rather humans, who had badly treated lands all over the Eastern U.S. and rather than admit this, deer were being scapegoated.  I was able to find no study that took the deer's point of view, or that assumed that deer have a prior right to live in North America, or that understood deer to be beings with an equal claim to live. So ubiquitous is the notion that humans are superior to nature that I could find few people who grasped the truth that North America, like Africa, is a paradise of Ungulates, and that this is a natural fact which humans must adapt to. The answer is not killing ungulates but of getting rid of human-centered selfishness. We must share the land with deer and other non-human animals who have prior claim to it.
     There is a non-lethal way to lower deer and other ungulate populations. I sent the park managers information about the non-commercial PZP, immunocontraceptive vaccine, developed by Jay Kirkpatrick of Zoo Montana and used successfully in various national and state parks by Allen Rutberg of  HSUS ( Humane Society of the US). The Metropark rejected this and chose instead to use of form of this vaccine that is commercialized and sold out of Canada by a company named IVT, under the brand name SprayVac. This company has recently joined up with the formerly called ADC (Animal Damage Control) which is now euphemistically called Wildlife Services, which is probably the most destructive to animals of all the various government agencies. They kill animals and birds for ranchers and agricultural interests.
        The SprayVac vaccine, which sterilizes animals, unlike the native PZP which does not, has been used unethically on seals. I discuss elsewhere the commercialization of this vaccine and the dangers it represents. But suffice it to say here that  the SprayVac PZP is now being developed as part of an effort to reduce all of nature to a domesticated extension of human interests. SprayVac is used in conjunction with killing of deer and in The Cleveland Metroparks a very high percentage of deer were murdered prior to the administering of the vaccine to the remaining deer. The SprayVac and the killing are both being done by Anthony DiNicola, a man who kills animals for profit all over the eastern US. The park system chose killing  deer over non-lethal methods, for various corrupt reasons. Moreover, the small number of deer that were administered the vaccine (about 30), where given it after live capture, a procedure that can kill deer and is cruel even if it doesn't kill them. So their SprayVac "experiment" was little more than unethical window dressing, done, probably as a PR stunt. ( For more on PZP see the essay "A Brief History of Some North American Mammals, in the Beyond Heroes Wetland section of this book)

    The official Mission statement of the Cleveland Metroparks states that “conservation of natural resources is the primary responsibility of the Cleveland Metroparks” . The mission statement's prime directive does not say that helping developers, polluters, promoting recreation, tourism, or "capital improvements" is the primary mission of the park. The park is also enjoined by its charter in the Ohio Revised Code to put the buying of land for further conservation, preservation and restoration, above any other concern. The park has failed in this mission, and has bought little land, and the land in its possession is now mismanaged with recreation being a much higher priority than preservation and restoration.
       So what became clear to me over a number of years of studying the politics surrounding the killing of deer is that the stated reasons for killing deer, namely to save birds and flowers, were almost entirely bogus, and that the real reason had to do with human-centered notions of land use, and the vagaries of market capitalism, which perceived deer as a nuisance to the capitalist development of urban sprawl and suburban expansion, or as objects to be "managed" as background decorations, mere ornaments in a system of pseudo-nature, a natural Disneyland, designed primarily for human consumption and entertainment. The scapegoating of deer and the blaming of them for declines in plant and bird populations enabled the park managers to hypocritically ignore the fact of over-development of land and the human destruction of ecologies. Blaming and killing deer was a means to sidestep the fact that the real threat to birds, plants and nature is not deer, but human-animals.
       Why did they kill my beloved deer? It became clear to me that it was not because of anything that the deer had done to birds or wildflowers. The reason was the human centered mentality and culture of these people that drive in badly designed cars on even worse designed highways, driving to cities and suburbs where nature is excluded or only allowed to exist to fulfill human fantasies of a "good life" that is neither good nor conducive to natural lives. My beloved deer were killed because of  arrogant human centeredness and alienated ignorance endemic to a culture that neither respects nature, nor recognizes that other natural beings have as much intrinsic worth and right to live as human being do. My beloved deer were killed for the same reasons that the Buffalo were slaughtered, elephants and lions gunned down, the Great Lakes polluted, and thousands of species driven to extinction or near extinction.
       The killing of 2000 deer in the Cleveland Metroparks was a crime. It is was a crime committed against nature, but a crime for which there is no redress because it is done by the state, institutions and in this case, a  complicated combination of state and business interests. It was a crime committed by an institution. The basic casual elements of the crime, as with most large scale atrocities, from  slavery to Auschwitz to Rwanda, involved a mixture of political and economic motives. The deer are wild animals, quite innocent of these political and economic motives. As Thoreau sometimes said, the flora and fauna of the United States are also "citizens" of these states and should be granted the respect and dignity they deserve. In fact the mammals, birds and wildflowers of the United States have a much more ancient and prior claim to equal rights and just treatment than do the human invaders and immigrants that now occupy increasing lands of the U.S. The killing of my beloved deer had to do with the peculiar combination business opportunism and greed combining with government corruption -- a combination of inequities that unfortunately deforms the whole of our current "democracy" and replacing democracy with the oligopoly of state capitalism, a government by and for corporations. A true democracy must recognize the rights of nature. The killing of my beloved deer was a denial of these rights, a denial of wildness. It had no sound scientific justification. It was politically motivated, and so to investigate the perpetrators of this crime meant looking into the politics of the park system and how it had become corrupted.



Autumn Sunrise
(Deer, Hickory, Beech, and Nuthatch)

My Investigation
        Having understood that the killing of my beloved deer was politically motivated, I began to look a  little deeper into the history of the local park system, and the politics of those in charge of the killing. This in depth study would not have been worth undertaking at all were it not that the Cleveland Metroparks is one of the best and most diverse semi-wild  park systems in the United States. 67 miles long, referred to as the "emerald necklace" it circles around Cuyahoga County. It is something very precious, and the men that saw to its creation were very forward looking and intelligent.
    One of the first men to understand the amazing ecology of Northeast Ohio was Jared Kirtland. Kirtland was a 19th ornithologist and he realized that the river systems of northern Ohio were extremely important corridors for both non-resident and resident birds. William Stinchcomb (1878-1957), no doubt influenced by Kirtland and other early naturalists created the park system in 1916 and oversaw much of its protection. He stopped highways from being constructed, opposed developers, restricted over-use, fought the pollution of the rivers in the park system, and even sued municipalities for this pollution. The Metropark system exists primarily because of Stinchcomb and another man, A. B. Williams, a naturalist, both of whom thought that the primary purpose of the Metropark system was to preserve forest, river and wetland ecologies. They also wished to insure that over development of surrounding lands adjacent to the Metroparks be kept at a minimum by the park having an aggressive policy of buying land and extending the park boundaries as far as possible to make a continuous and connected park system from Lake Erie, all the way around the city and south all the way to Akron.  Their primary concern was to preserve and restore nature, not make roads, encourage recreation nor promote developments. The current park managers have strayed far from this mission and betrayed the basic principles held by Stinchcomb and Williams.
     So then, who killed my beloved deer?
    The actual organizer of the atrocity was Tom Stanley, "Natural Resources" director of the Cleveland Metroparks. I spoke with him a number of times and found him mired in an archaic "recourcism" and "conservation biology" derived from the 1950's and 60's, which basically sees the "management" of nature as a top-down, anthropocentric duty. Nature is seen as a collection of resources to be exploited for human benefit, and "conservation", in this context, means conserving for human use and exploitation. He seemed to have no notion of the larger picture of the natural world beyond the Metropark borders, and appeared to see himself as a savior of plants on a messianic quest. He had no notion, for instance, that the cattle industry is  far more destructive of plant communities than deer or elk are, but he was doing nothing to stop the exploitation of lands by cattle. He also seemed to have no faith in the proven resilience of plant communities, and apparently learned much of his attitudes toward deer from biased U.S., Forest Service propaganda for logging companies. The primary threat to plant communities is human habitat destruction, logging and agribusiness, not deer.
    It was interesting for me to watch Stanley fabricate "facts" about deer, showing me concretely that his "science" was motivated by an irrational, missionary and fanatic need to kill deer. Stanley claimed to me on the phone that there were well over 100 deer per square mile in Rocky River Reservation. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer he he claimed  that there were 59 deer per square mile in Rocky River Reservation, the same area. In fact his own aerial infrared study shows that there were only 32 deer per square mile on average, and that is only under the assumption that the aerial infrared was not taking pictures of hot rocks and mistaking them for deer, which it probably was. My extensive wanderings in Rocky River, as well as the observations of others who know that park better than the naturalists who spend most of their time sitting in offices, indicates that deer density in Rocky River is less than 30 deer per square mile. It some places it is no more than 10 to 15. In one area in particular, where I knew every deer within a few square miles, there averaged no more than 15 deer at a time, or 7 per square mile. This fluctuated in the winter when males moved in and out of the area during rutting season. In short, the science that justified the killing was not just questionable, but the results were exaggerated and fabricated to be higher than than actuality.

     The actual killer of the deer was Anthony DiNicola, hired by Stanley. DiNicola has killed deer and other animals all over the eastern states, from Maine to Iowa, Princeton New Jersey to Connecticut. He is a mercenary killer, a legalized serial killer for hire. His company's name is White Buffalo. He evidently is not terribly bright, since the White Buffalo is a Lakota Indian myth that is about the return of nature and animals to health after their decimation by white men. In the myth, the White Buffalo Calf woman condemns those who are greedy and do gratuitous harm to others. DiNicola, ironically, named his company after a mythic story that condemns people such as himself. DiNicola appears to be the one that designed the Gestapo like strategy of killing deer late at night behind a police blockade, since he has done this in many cities. He also manages to control the mention of his name in the press, since it has not been used here, to my knowledge. He made hundreds of thousands of dollars in his killing of the Cleveland deer.
       But DiNicola  and Stanley are merely functionaries in a larger bureaucracy. The current director of the Metropark is Vern Hartenburg. He replaced Lou Tsipis. Under the corrupt leadership of Lou Tsipis in the 1980’s and Vern Hartenburg in the 1990’s the park has consistently betrayed its own mission statement and promoted recreation and construction above all other values.  Land acquisition has largely ceased since then, with a corrupt series of "capital improvements", some costing millions of dollars, taking precedence over land acquisition and restoration projects. Under the tenure of Tsipis, corruption of all kinds developed, including contract irregularities, nepotism, favoritism and forgery.  He was at the center of a parks scandal that resulted in his pleading guilty to nine felonies in 1992.
      Above Hartenberg in the Metropark hierarchy  is the Metropark Board of Commissioners, and above the Board is a Probate Judge, John Donnelly. So the ultimate responsible party for the murder of my beloved deer is John Donnelly, though the proximate responsible party is the Board, who Donnelly appointed. The members of this Board reveal much about the cultural reason for the atrocity committed against 2000 deer.

    The three member Board of Commissioners is  composed of Fred Rzepka, David Whitehead and John K. O’Toole. O'Toole recently retired, replaced by William J. Ryan.
Rzepka is a developer and land speculator, and head of Transcon Builders Inc. He builds nursing homes that profit from the sick and the elderly. He bought his own country club golf course and  sat on the Board of the boondoggle project  that built a second unnecessary sports stadium in Cleveland, which fleeced innocent taxpayers. Rzepka has bought himself a golf course, but has bought little land for the Metroparks and has tried to turn the Metroparks into a recreation playground, not the serious ecological preserve that it was meant to be. Appointing a developer to the board of the Metroparks, which is by definition dedicated to non-development and the preservation and restoration of natural ecologies is not just questionable but duplicitously hypocritical.
    O'Toole is a Probate lawyer, one of Donnelly's friends apparently, who recently, in a deal that smells of impropriety, is buying himself land that should have been bought by the Metropark.  O'Toole, with the Board's approval and money chose to use his office enrich himself  at the expense of the people of Cuyahoga County and the natural world in the Metropark.

      While these appointments are certainly very bad, the appointment of David Whitehead was even worse. Whitehead is president of the Board. Until 1997 he was vice president for CEI, a huge utility company, now merged into numerous companies one of which is First Energy.  These companies collectively are one of the single largest polluters in the entire Midwest. How Whitehead, a representative of polluters, managed to get on the Board of a park system whose primary goal is preservation of the natural world  begs the question of hypocrisy.  Of particular note is the fact that in 2002 First Energy executives forced the continued running of Davis Bessie Nuclear Power plant, despite the fact that this plant was known to be dangerously damaged. Putting profits before people and endangering the entire ecosystem of the Lake Erie basin, First Energy nearly drove the nuclear plant into a nuclear meltdown. It is the closest any nuclear power plant has come to a major disaster of huge proportions since the meltdown in Chernobyl, Russia in the 1980's. In short, Whitehead, who is not just one of the biggest polluters in the Midwest, but even worse than this, he is one of the men who nearly caused the people, animals and plants of the Lake Erie  basin to suffer a nuclear catastrophe the effects of which would have lasted eons, killing untold numbers of beings and causing genetic deformities for many generations. For Donnelly to have appointed, much less maintained such a man in an appointment, as head of a Metropark system whose whole purpose is the preservation and restoration of natural beauty, is corrupt, to say the least.
      In any case, it is clear that Rzepka, O'Toole and Whitehead represent developers and polluters. They were put in charge of the Metropark system as the result of  patronage and favoritism, corporate green-washing and hypocrisy.  None of them have any knowledge of animals, ecology or the natural world.  They are the last people who should be involved with our park system. It is clear from the demographics of Cuyahoga county that the deer are being killed precisely in those areas where the most aggressive development is occurring. The deer killing proceeds most aggressively in the southwest and south east areas of Cuyahoga County, from Strongsville to Hinkley and Hudson, where Urban sprawl is most aggressive. This is good for the utility companies and the developers who make millions, but the cost to the natural world and to deer is horrendous. It is clear that Rzepka, O'Toole and Whitehead are supporters of this destruction and that they are implicated in the crime of killing 2000 innocent deer.
     Recently, (May 25, 2003), Donnelly was accused by the Cleveland Plain Dealer of showing  favoritism and patronage toward his friends in guardianship and probate cases, involving estates and the treatment of the elderly. As a result of this, Donnelly has put through some reforms, and showed a willingness to change. One hopes he will do the same thing with the Metroparks and remove the three current Commissioners. The Metropark should be headed by people llike Stinchcomb and A.B. Williams, people who have the interest of the citizens of nature at heart, people who recognize that nature has rights. There should be at least two environmentalists on the Board, who have some understanding of the importance of animal rights. There need only be one businessman, and he or she should be neither a developer or a polluter, but someone who respects nature and will obey the mission of the Metropark, which is to buy land, preserve the natural beauty of Northeast Ohio, and promote an ethic of preservation and restoration of ecologies and minimizing human centered uses and recreation.
     In conclusion, why did they kill my beloved deer? They killed them because the park management was willing to use the skewed results of bogus science, and deform science with politics.
They killed them because of a tacit speciesist assumption that the lives of deer are meaningless, human beings, especially wealthy developers and corporate polluters, are of greater value.

They killed them because they could, because  power corrupts and cronyism inhabits the probate court of Cuyahoga county.

They killed them because it is the unexamined fashion to kill any animal, be it Buffalo, Snow Geese, Canada Geese or Prairie Dogs, that gets in the way of human excess, human selfishness, human centered treatment of nature and the earth. 

They killed them because capitalism justifies the destruction of nature,  and a political and corrupt bureaucracy was willing to betray the mission of the Metropark the interests of polluters and developers.

 My beloved deer were murdered by ignorance and callous greed, by an insensitive and corrupt bureaucracy, and  a judge and a governing Board willing to betray the Metroparks they were appointed to serve. My beloved deer were killed so that the Metropark could send the chauvinistic message to children all over Ohio that if you have trouble with animals, pull out your guns and shoot first, ask questions later. In the end, there was no good reason to kill them, other then the pure exercise of arbitrary and corrupt power over beings weaker and defenseless than the Metropark Board and the Probate Judge who appointed them.  Like all atrocities, the murder of 2000 deer was senseless, a mere act of horror, the murder of animals that hardly anyone cares about, just as the killing of Jews, Indians, slaves, or heretics were ignored in the past. Atrocities against humans and other animals happen because no one stands up to stop it. I stood up to stop it. But I failed. My beloved deer is still dead, and so are her fawns. That is why I wrote the preceding poem, as a memorial to a deer and her fawns who were killed unjustly, when they had lived good lives, harmed no one, and did not deserve either scapegoating of the punishment of death.
I wrote the poem and this chronicle of corruption in the Metroparks as a Memorial to the deer I loved.


Breathing with Deer at Dawn (sketch)


Click here
for a Brief History of North American Mammals