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Deer Hunting and Animal Cruelty


Deer Hunting and Animal Cruelty

By Katy Byrne and Melania Mahoney

Hunting is still happening in the Sonoma region. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts a survey of the deer population at Lake Sonoma to determine the maximum number of bucks that can be “taken.” In 2014, the total was six. Areas of the park that have been closed for decades are now open for deer hunting. The season will begin again in July, 2015. 

Killing deer is by archery or crossbow only. The Friends of Lake Sonoma Board has determined the fee to be $500 for the first day and $175 for subsequent days (if you were unable to take a buck). Hunters will also be allowed to ‘harvest’ a wild pig.

Deer will need to come down from the higher hills seeking water. With cattle, building, vineyards, and may other encroachments on our Sonoma County hillsides, it is rapidly becoming a loosing battle for the deer and many other forms of wildlife. 

While supermarkets are overflowing with factory-farmed meat, it’s incomprehensible that hunters are allowed to slaughter wildlife for the supposed pleasure of killing an innocent being, especially in a county that is home to countless organizations struggling to protect & preserve the lives and welfare of animals. Why, in the 21st century, is this killing ‘tradition’ still allowed in Sonoma County? While hunting is, with restrictions, still legal in the state- isn’t it time to look at stopping hunting? It’s animal cruelty - killing wildlife of any kind for pleasure & ‘sport’. 

Can there be room for a discussion about stopping sport hunting in the county once & for all? The Department of Fish and Wildlife has, for one of their primary goals, “to maintain diversified recreational uses of wildlife including sport hunting”. I am hoping there are enough of us out there who can speak up and make a difference, so that recreation does not involve killing them and in a painful way. Being shot and with an arrow ? It’s barbaric and often the animal suffers while running, being hit more than once or laying there in anguish. 

Maybe now is the time to start discussions about solutions with a kinder intent, if there really is a need to slow down population growth. As it stands now- this activity models more violence to kids. Isn’t there enough violence on TV and in our world already? 

The psychological literature is relevant regarding the relationship between violence toward animals and toward humans, with ramifications for domestic violence and child abuse. “The research is pretty clear that there are connections between animal abuse, domestic violence and child abuse” ( Frank Ascione of the University of Denver Graduate School of Social work.)

What you can do: Urge your local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges and schools to take cruelty to animals seriously. Children should be taught to care for and respect animals. Takes pictures, call 911, write letters, attend court proceedings involving animal violence. Let the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife know how you feel about such a violent and unnecessary ‘use’ of wildlife. Isn’t it time that humans in Sonoma County and everywhere become responsible for creating a peaceful place to live and co-exist? 

Deer hunting is done by the “Friends of Lake Sonoma” – an oxymoron at best. Why cause painful and frightening deaths? 

Please speak up for the voiceless ones.

Email Katy Byrne:

Email Melanie Mahoney:


After reading the letter to you about allowing bow hunting at Lake Sonoma to control the deer population, I started to wonder if that was the best method. Then I heard about the deer seen wandering a neighborhood for several weeks with an arrow through its head… How human(e)…

I remember when I was a kid the adults would take us on hunting trips. At first it was getting up at 4 AM and driving to that God-forsaken place called Grizzly Island. Then in the cold and semi-darkness we would walk through the fields trying to kill pheasants and quail before we would eventually end up sitting in a damp blind waiting for the ducks to fly by. Shot my gun a few times but never hit anything. How I longed during those trips to be at home watching cartoons in my pajamas.

Then we went deer hunting. After they killed and dressed the deer (not quite sure why they call it that) I found out why they brought me along. They made me carry it up a hill to the car. There I was with a warm dead animal on my back having absolutely no fun.  When I got to the car I grabbed my 22 and set off to shoot something. I saw a little bird at the top of a tree and I raised my gun with glee and shot it. As I watched it fall to the ground I felt an incredible sadness at what I had just done… killed a little bird who was just minding its own business. Living its life without any thought that its death was supposed to be a fun thing...  Never shot at anything ever again… except at my brother who I shot in the ass with a BB gun as he was running away after shooting me in the collar bone...

My take on hunting animals for fun… if Jesus wouldn’t do it… why should we?

George DiRienzo, Napa
After reading your Article on deer hunting At Lake Sonoma i had to ask myself do these people have Any Clue on what the heck they are talking about? It is so clear you have no idea or any real information on Deer hunting . First off you should do a bit more digging on information on who does more for animal preservation in the state of California ,its not you! its not the sierra club and its not Any other Group other than hunters. Hunters and the department of fish and game Do it all. The money that comes from hunting license and tags pours right back into the preservation and habitat for animals. The fact that you had the idea that it is better to go get farm raised meat at your local market is crazy. NOw maybe you should go and do some research on that and maybe then you can write a article on that so we all can read something worth reading…….

Keith Cochrane
Napa ca
I understand your point of view but never have I heard someone so detached from reality. As long as the meat is killed by someone else it is okay.  It is obvious you are against hunting, and your lack of understanding is present in your writing. - Michael Orsi

I think you need to quit worrying about what other people do in there free time.I don't drink wine but I am not an advocate to stop wineries.This world would be a whole lot better off without people who dont jack about our eco-system.If you think stopping hunting is going to help the deer you are dead wrong!! Hunting not only is a sport it is the only means of keeping the population in check.Without hunting deer numbers would skyrocket leading  to disease and starvation.The latter being due to loss of habitat.Last time I checked the vineyards in my area weren't feeding the deer anything but lead bullets!! So before you go and try and be a spokesperson for the deer try doing some research on the cause you think your helping, and maybe you will think twice before you make yourself out be someone who helping the deer.Maybe starvation is more humane in your eyes,but in the world in today without hunting the deer will be living happy in your backyard or hiding under the freeway waiting to get to the bucket of apples you left out for them. I hope that you read this and responding to what  I have to say.

Rich Garcia Napa ca.