Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week of October 19, 2009

Updated 10/22. The latest news is at the bottom of this post.


Culls Expand as the Deer Chomp Away


TAIT E. JOHANSSON and James F. Nordgren do not hate animals.

In fact, they help run the Bedford Audubon Society, which protects birds and other wildlife in northeastern Westchester and eastern Putnam Counties. Yet, as they gaze across a meadow to a forest behind their headquarters here, their resolve is strengthened to support a measure that the public does not usually associate with conservation groups — deploying bowhunters to kill white-tailed deer.

What the two glimpse beyond the meadow is a four-foot-high void, called a browseline, under the dense stands of hickory, maple and oak trees. The void has been carved out by deer, which have gobbled up all the low-rise shrubs, wildflowers and saplings as efficiently as a hedge trimmer. With no trees younger than 20 years to speak of in those woods, these conservationists worry that in another 50 years there will be no forest left.

“As old trees die and there are no young trees replacing them, we could be looking at a barren landscape,” said Mr. Nordgren, the society’s executive director.

For a decade or so, towns, villages and counties in the New York region, similarly concerned about too many deer, have dispatched bowhunters and sometimes sharpshooters to cull the herds. But now the cull is getting bigger, as one of the largest local jurisdictions — Westchester County — allows culling for the first time in its own parkland, and a few towns and villages within that county are considering similar moves. What’s more, these places, more densely populated than many of the communities that currently authorize such culling, are focusing on bowhunting rather than shooting, for safety reasons. That preference is prompting criticism from animal-rights groups, who see bowhunting as particularly cruel.

Hunting with firearms is permitted throughout much of New York State, except in those counties, like Westchester, and towns that forbid it.

Westchester’s decision to allow bowhunting for culling purposes came after a county task force examined the issue for three years. Specifically, the county in August invited bowhunters to participate in a cull in two large Westchester preserves — Muscoot Farm Park and Lasdon Park. The 65 hunters, chosen from among 280 applicants, will thin the herds from early next month until year’s end. The hunters will not be paid for their work but can get as much venison as they want, with the rest going to food banks.

Westchester elected to allow only bowhunting to thin herds because it deemed that method to be relatively safe. Harming passers-by is less likely, the thinking goes, because a typical arrow has a range of no more than 30 yards, compared to a bullet’s 200 yards or more. And most archers hunt from 10-foot-high tree stands, so their arrows head downward. (The bows are fiberglass or carbon devices that, along with a set of aluminum arrows, can cost more than $1,000.) [...]

Conservationists like Mr. Nordgren bring additional concerns to the list of deer damage — by stripping the low-lying brush, they say, the deer threaten the local survival of species like the wood thrush and the Kentucky warbler, which need low-rise forests for nesting.

But in espousing hunting to thin the herds, these conservationists are running up against animal rights advocates — often their allies on other issues — who feel that killing deer is morally offensive and slaying them with arrows especially misguided. [...]

Supporters of culls point to the density of the deer population — like the herds on Ward Pound Ridge Reservation — and say that thinning such crowded herds is a kindness to the animals, not cruelty. “When there’s 60 per square mile, there is not enough food,” said Mr. Johansson, the naturalist at the Bedford Audubon Society. “We’re all animal rights people and from our point of view the deer are starving. We’re finding mature adults that are just 60 pounds.” [...]

Read the full article at link.


Citizens mapping invasive species online is an invasive species mapping program that allows citizens, school groups, and professionals to enter invasive species observations into a global database. The observations are then used for natural resource management, scientific studies, and environmental education. provides an opportunity for students and volunteers to perform field studies that contribute to our collective biological databases. You may submit your observations to our online database using our field tools. Link


Notice of public meeting on ship ballast water

Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

SUMMARY: This notice provides the times and locations of two public meetings which will be held by the Coast Guard (USCG) regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters” that published in the Federal Register on Friday, August 28, 2009.

DATES: Public meetings will be held in the Oakland, CA (October 27, 2009) and New York, NY (October 29, 2009)areas to provide opportunities for oral comments. The comment period for the NPRM closes on December 4, 2009. All comments and related material submitted after a meeting must either be submitted to our online docket via on or before December 4, 2009 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the Marriott Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA, 94607, on October 27, 2009, and the Marriott New York Downtown, 85 West Street at Albany Street, New York, NY, 10006, on October 29, 2009. All meetings will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. local time unless otherwise noted. The meetings may conclude before the allotted time if all matters of discussion have been addressed.

You may submit written comments identified by docket number USCG-2001-10486 before or after the meeting using any one of the following methods:

(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal:
(2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
(3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC
(4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

Our online docket for this rulemaking is available on the Internet at under docket number USCG-2001-10486.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this proposed rulemaking, call or e-mail Mr. John Morris, Project Manager, Environmental Standards Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, telephone 202-372-1433, e-mail:


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