Updates on Vassar’s Deer Cull (Finally)

I realize that I’ve promised at least twice now to provide an update on Vassar’s deer cull, to take place in mere weeks, about which I posted early last month. While I’ve failed to do so (and for that, I apologize profusely), I’d like to now offer a brief summary of the joint actions that Vassar students and the Poughkeepsie community have taken to protest the cull:

  • The Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) formed a smaller committee deemed “Science Over Slaughter” to focus on the cull, dedicated to educating ourselves as fully as possible about the issues surrounding deer management. We attended an informational session held by the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve at which they basically pandered to their audience and became extremely defensive, contacted two individuals in the Poughkeepsie community who protested Vassar’s 2010 cull, and met up with a New Paltz group specialized in compassionate solutions to wildlife management called Wildlife Watch.
  • After extensive research, our group came to the conclusion that immunocontraception provides an extremely viable alternative to the cull, proving more economical, sustainable for the future, and obviously more ethical. An article in Vassar’s campus newspaper, the Miscellany News, written by a fellow member of Science Over Slaughter, explains the details of this form of deer birth control.
  • Our two allies in the Poughkeepsie community filed a lawsuit against Vassar that “claims the deer cull is subject to a more comprehensive review under the State Environmental Quality Review act, and that it violates a City of Poughkeepsie ordinance that bans the discharge of firearms.”
  • Local residents and Vassar students united in front of Vassar to protest the cull, garnering media attention from the Miscellany News, the MidHudson News, and the Poughkeepsie Journal.
  • The VFEP Oversight Committee, who recommended engaging in a second cull this year, refused to meet with Science Over Slaughter or answer any questions due to the impending lawsuit, revealing their troubling lack of transparency.

Protesting in front of the Vassar gates.

Currently, Science Over Slaughter retains little hope of halting the cull this year, but hopefully can prevent future culls by working with the VFEP to implement immunocontraception techniques. Nevertheless, we continue to provide students with as much information as possible about the VFEP’s hushed up actions with numerous op-eds in the Miscellany News:

  • VARC co-president Rocky Schwartz discusses the troubling bias toward hunting held by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which seems to heavily influence Vassar’s insistence upon implementing the cull.
  • I offer a parallel between Vassar and Green Mountain College, the liberal arts institution in Vermont responsible for the now infamous Bill and Lou saga, particularly in both of the colleges’ tendencies toward animal slaughter justified under the guise of “environmental sustainability.”
  • Finally, political science professor Richard Born furthers the discussion of Vassar’s seemingly sympathetic treatment of hunters in the Poughkeepsie area.

Finally, we’ve continued to circle two petitions around the internet, which you can certainly sign to receive our great thanks: Petition 1 and Petition 2.

If you’re interested in learning more about Vassar’s cull, please feel free to email me at ali.seiter@gmail.com. I’d be happy to answer any lingering questions.

Until next time, Ali.

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