Progress in the struggle to protect deer in Cayuga Heights

Cayuga Deer‘s latest update gave me a nice warm feeling inside – it’s beautiful that so many folks are speaking up for the deer in Cayuga Heights. Please read on for the news, and consider joining their mailing list or connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook so you too can hear about upcoming ways to help resolve this situation peacefully.

Dear Friends,

In the last week, there have been two letters to the editor and one opinion piece published in favor of a non-violent alternative to resolving the deer conflict in Cayuga Heights.

Five Cornell Law Professors Speak Out

The opinion piece, published in the Ithaca Journal, was based on a letter that was presented to the Cayuga Heights trustees at their last meeting, on behalf of five professors at the Cornell Law School: Prof. Sherry Colb, Prof. Michael Dorf, Prof. Robert Hockett, Prof. Steven Shiffrin, and Prof. Laura Underkuffler. The letter detailed their opposition to the proposed bait-and-shoot program, based on its inherent cruelty to animals; the distress it will cause many people in the community who care about these animals and know many of them as individuals; the danger posed to innocent bystanders, human and non-human, both in and around Cayuga Heights; and the divisiveness and rancor that will only grow worse in our community should an annual killing program of this nature be implemented. The law professors pledged their moral support in the event of a legal challenge. You can read their complete opinion piece here:

Two New Letters in the Ithaca Times

Two more citizens added their voices to the debate, publicly condemning Cayuga Heights’ violent backyard deer-killing plan. In this week’s Ithaca Times, Zaira S. Chaudhry wrote:

“I, for one, cannot fathom how a committee comprised of notable, intelligent individuals could arrive at such an undeniably inhumane ‘solution.’ Perhaps to some this ‘solution’ seems to be the easiest to implement, however the easiest solution is not always the best solution. It would, indeed, be easy to implement a deer-killing program but wouldn’t it be best to do what is right? The proposed deer killing program falls nothing short of genocide, and the proponents of such a program show absolute disregard for the value and preservation of life.”

Zaira ends her letter by quoting Mark Twain, who said, “The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.” You can read her complete letter here:

And finally, our friend the dancing deer put pen to paper and as a resident of Cayuga Heights, challenged the mayor and trustees to a public debate on the deer issue. His letter appeared in last week’s Ithaca Times, and while it’s not available online, here’s an excerpt:

“Having asked the Mayor and/or any Board members to publicly debate me on three separate occasions (twice in person at Board meetings and once in writing) which would be open to the community, cordial, and covered by local press, their response has been to ignore me every time. I can only figure they don’t want to be embarrassed by how ridiculously easily their reasons for Bait and Kill collapse into garbage when faced with some basic questions… I can already hear some of their excuses, We’ve already talked about the issue enough, we’ve explained the reasons, how long must we discuss this, etc. Oh, they’ve talked plenty, all right, but they haven’t answered most of the questions about their talk, and that’s unacceptable… In a week I’ll be moving downtown, and the Board will label me an ‘outsider’… So I once again ask Mayor Supron or any member of the Cayuga Heights Village Board to let me question them — and vice-versa if desired — in a polite, civil, public forum, before I’m an ‘outsider’ who is ignored entirely and given no say in matters pertaining to my community. Wait… ignored and given no say in matters pertaining to my community… well, hey, it’ll be just the same as when I was a Cayuga Heights resident!”

Add your voice to the debate!

• The Ithaca Journal – Send to: Editor, Ithaca Journal, 123 W. State St., Ithaca, NY 14850
or submit by email:

• The Ithaca Times -Send to: Editor, Ithaca Times,109 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca, NY 14850
or submit by email:

Monday, July 19 at 7 PM
New Location: Cayuga Heights Fire Station, 194 Pleasant Grove Rd, Ithaca, NY
Map & Directions:

The monthly meeting of the Cayuga Heights trustees is coming up next Monday. We will be there as always, videotaping the proceedings. Both the deer and the fencing issues are on the agenda for Monday, so please consider joining us, and if you are willing, offer your comments to the trustees during the Privilege of the Floor, which happens at the beginning of the meeting, right after the approval of the minutes. Attending and/or participating in this part of the meeting should only take 20-30 minutes of your time, and your moral support would be much appreciated. You can see the agenda of the meeting here:

Many thanks to all of you who are banding together to help keep our community a peaceful, safe and compassionate place to live. We hope to see you Monday night!

Your friends,
Jenny, James and Eric


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2 thoughts on “Progress in the struggle to protect deer in Cayuga Heights

  1. I think we all need to be a little more educated on this topic, to understand it’s complexity. I would hate to find ourselves in this absurd binary of “deer-killers” and “bambi-huggers”. So lets consider some other points.

    1. White-tailed deer love the tulips and hedges available in Cayuga Heights and surrounding areas, so their population grows, so they keep eating more tulips, and on and on. This is a cyclical relationship – CH residents don’t want to kill deer BECAUSE they eat the tulips, but because you almost hit one every night on your way home, because there are too many of them. Getting hit by a car, arguably, is a much more violent death, and you also endanger yourself and possibly your family. This is as much a problem with our current sense of lawn aesthetics as anything.

    2. Over-abundant deer populations (due to lack of culling and hunting culture, and our tendency to plant delicious treats for them right around our houses) harm the flora and fauna of the forest. They eat the native saplings, severely endangering the future of our forests and habitats for other creatures.

    3. Increased deer = increased lyme disease.

    4. You are not ALLOWED to have a fence over 6 feet tall in Cayuga Heights, nor ANY fence closer than 15 feet from the edge of your property. It is city ordinance.

    OK…so it IS a problem. Instead of just decrying the deer massacre, why not find some positive solutions? Bring Venison to food banks and food shelters (vegans that want to dictate others’ diets as well may be against this)? Change what plants we have in our yards? Change fence ordinance? Paint the deers with reflective paint so we don’t hit them at night (that’s a joke, don’t worry). We have to think about this creatively, as a County with a problem. Let’s not get polarized, but actually discuss these issues with informed consciousness.

    Thank you,

  2. Thank you for your comment. As a vegan and an anti-speciesist, my reply is this: If it’s not okay to kill human beings for these sorts of things, it’s not okay to kill deer either. Deer exist for their own reasons; they are not inconveniences but neighbors we are bound to respect. If we wish to live in a peaceful world, we must find nonviolent solutions for our conflicts.

    But that’s just me! I’m curious to hear what others may think of your questions and suggestions.

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