Protestors oppose Vassar culling of deer

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ARLINGTON – Approximately 20 concerned
citizens gathered in the snow Saturday afternoon to protest Vassar College’s
decision to cull deer in the school’s Vassar Farm and Ecological
Preserve (VFEP).

Vassar Farm is an area of under one square mile with trees and fields,
owned by the college, within the City and Town of Poughkeepsie. The overabundance
of deer on the VFEP is having a negative impact on plant diversity at
the farm property, according to the college.

Protestors
at Vassar College

There are some 50 deer that travel through farm property and the surrounding
neighborhoods.

“Vassar says we have to keep shooting, baiting them and shooting
them, which is not hunting, by the way, forever, because we don’t
think that any more than 10 deer should be allowed to live?” Marcy
Schwartz, founder of Save Our Deer, a grassroots organization said.

Schwartz feels the college is flouting the city and Dutchess County laws
against rifle hunting and the city is not enforcing the laws with the
college.

The college first started working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Wildlife Services in 2013 and a private company which employs sharpshooters
to cull the deer in 2010.

Bill Crain of Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Beekman feels that the college
is placing its needs above the value of an animal’s life.

“I don’t believe they should be killing these animals,”
Crain said. “These animals want to live as much as humans do. They
have families and emotions, and they are living beings. There have to
be other solutions to whatever problems they see.”
Vassar College student Caden McGuire thinks the college is spending too
much money on the culling and could find a less expensive and more humane
solution.

“Just put up a fence,” McGuire said reading the sign she was
holding.

The college does donate the venison to local food pantries, according
to its website, providing tens of thousands of meals.
Schwartz is less than impressed. The state makes them do that, according
to Schwartz, and college turns it into a PR move, she said.