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November 17, 2019

Lifestyle

Westchester wildlife are a threat, even in state parks. This sign warns hikers and runners of the deer invasion at Rockefeller Preserve Park in Pocantico Hills.
Dean Renzi displays his bow hunting form near Silver Lake in North Castle.
Westchester wildlife are a threat, even in state parks. This sign warns hikers and runners of the deer invasion at Rockefeller Preserve Park in Pocantico Hills.
Westchester wildlife are a threat, even in state parks. This sign warns hikers and runners of the deer invasion at Rockefeller Preserve Park in Pocantico Hills.

Are Deer A Threat To Westchester Wilderness? State Parks Department Apparently Thinks So

Suburban vehicles and wildlife don't mix on Westchester roadways. Deer-car collisions in the region are on the rise, according to state officials.

But does wildlife pose a "threat" even in the area's state parks? Apparently so, according to signs warning hikers and runners of the deer invasion at Rockefeller State Park in Pocantico Hills.

Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW) has initiated legal action to have the signs taken down.

ADOW is the same non-profit organization that fought Mamaroneck over its plan to kill geese in the village, the state on plans to hunt deer and coyotes by hiring professional sharpshooters and the county over its plan to eliminate birds near Westchester County Airport

On behalf of ADOW, attorney Delice Seligman has lodged a formal complaint with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rose Harvey, Commission of Rockefeller Preserve, in response to Rockefeller's posting of signs blaming deer for forest 'degradation' and why they 'have to be killed.' 

This State Park has a recreational bowhunting program on a portion of the park during regular deer season. This bowhunting program is overseen by Rockefeller State Park staff. State parks department officials did not reply to Daily Voice requests for comment.

Seligman requested that Rockefeller State Park immediately remove discriminatory signs urging deer slaughter and utilize humane methods in place of slaughter. Seligman's letter refers to this park's decision to post signs warning the public that deer are eating plants and claiming that killing deer "will help ensure future generations may also enjoy our forests."

Seligman's letter states in part: "There is no good purpose for these signs. They don't educate anyone about anything. Rather, it appears that your park services are simply cooperating with the DEC to promote completely unnecessary animal slaughter. These signs seem to serve no purpose other than to send both explicit derogatory and subliminal messages to justify the park's inhumane approach to these helpless and beloved animals. They don't educate anyone about anything."

Seligman added, "Removing the signs will signal to the public that you care about the deer who grace your park. The amount of damage done to plants by the deer in contrast to the damage done by the park itself flies in the face of any park that the deer are any kind of destructive force."

This is the latest legal volley against actions of Rockefeller Preserve: a legal Notice of Dangerous Condition was previously served on Commissioner Harvey that raised a question of park liability, since little or no effort has been made to inform the public when and where bow hunting is occurring, exposing the public to direct harm and even the trauma of seeing deer being slaughtered on park grounds, according to  Kiley Blackman.

Blackman, who is founder of Animal Defenders of Westchester, said, "This park is lying to the public so they can stay in bed with the DEC. The DEC promotes hunting over all other humane methods.

Blackman added, "It's bad enough that this park continues slaughtering deer despite public outcry; these disgraceful signs that encourage hatred for deer are based on bad science promoted by DEC flacks to profit the DEC.'

The DEC is operated solely by and for hunters and bans any non-hunters from serving on its advisory board, in Blackman's opinion, which she says "guarantees a lethal outcome for the wildlife they are supposed to protect. They operate on laws crafted by hunters over 100 years ago, and agencies like Rockefeller Preserve shamefully swallow their pro-hunting racket."

Most recently, ADOW fought for passage of a law, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, to prevent cruelty against animals, making it a felony crime.