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Speculator, NY ,

The Way Things Were

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - Updated: 5:45 PM

ABOUT THE WEEK OF MARCH 20, 1964, Inlet Supervisor Norton Bird wrote a lengthy open letter regarding the slaughter of 50 or more deer in the Moose River Plains by the NYS Conservation Department. Bird was also chairman of the Hamilton County Conservation Committee.

"It is very amusing to read in the papers and hear on radio and television, the almost childish reasons and answers by members of the Conservation Department for the slaughter of some 50 deer by their biologists on the Moose River plains in the towns of Inlet, Morehouse and Arietta.

"I knew, of course, that they would have more reasons and excuses for their unpardonable deed than Carter has liver pills but assumed that we might expect some far better explanation than has yet been given.

"The main reason for the conflicting stories as to the actual number of deer killed and so forth, is due to the fact that in as much as this mass murder was apparently a very well guarded secret and also that the Department knew that the road into the Moose River plains would be closed shortly after they had departed from the sickening scene, their actions would not be discovered. When they were informed that a party had visited the scene, photographed the evidence and made a count, they were so taken by surprise that no coordinated answer was available and the difference in numbers taken depended upon which Conservation member was talking.

"Let's take some of these answers and excuses and add a little common sense, then see what we come up with.

"First of all, the Conservation Department says that practically the same experiment was conducted in 1940. However, what they did not say was that in the 1940 survey the deer were in very poor condition due to a very severe winter and many were dead or dying. A number of these dead deer were used and a few that were nearly dead, and it was found that almost all of the does were carrying just one fawn.

"Now, according to Mr. Sevringhaus, and this is a matter of record, during a severe winter with a food scarcity, if a doe was carrying twin fawns through some phenomena of Mother Nature one of the embryos is absorbed by the mother deer thus providing sustenance for her and the remaining fawn. This proved to be the case in 1940 when the does examined were carrying one fawn in most cases.

"Now the contrast. The winter of 1963-64 was mild, the food supply was abundant, even according to the Conservation Department, and the deer were in excellent physical condition. Because of these facts most of the does were carrying twin fawns. What has this experiment proved? Just this, that when deer are well fed the does usually have twin fawns. This is something we have known all along and is one of the main reasons for our feeding programs.

"I believe that the order was for shooting 35 adult does but it turns out that about 50 deer were taken. Actually, I don't believe they know how many were killed. The stories vary greatly depending on who is giving the information. Let's take one report [of] 28 adult does, four adult males, nine male fawns and 12 female fawns. According to these figures 25 of these deer were a total loss to the experiment because bucks and fawns are no good for this type of survey.

"There has been a lot of propaganda about what a well-trained corps of biologists we have, yet here is a case where these so-called experts couldn't tell the difference between adult deer and fawns. There is no excuse for this as any man can tell you who has ever spent any time in the woods, especially when deer stand and look at one.

"The Department claims that it would have been impractical to bring out the carcasses of these deer because of the remoteness of the area and lack of roads. The road used by these officials starts at the Town of Inlet at Limekiln Lake and runs through the Moose River plains and was at the time in excellent condition. Most of the deer were shot from this road. Motorized toboggans were also used where a motor vehicle could not be driven. All of these deer could have been easily salvaged.

"It has been the practice of the Conservation Department in recent years to give deer hit by cars or illegally taken and recovered by them to various institutions, which should have been done in this case. Utica and Tupper Lake are both only 62 miles from Inlet and they both have such establishments. All of these facts can easily be proved.

"In the resolution presented to the Board of Supervisors of Hamilton County on March 2, 1964 I stated that other means of getting the required information could have been employed. First of all these deer could have been dart shot or live trapped (both of these methods having been used by the Department in the past) and then x-rayed by portable x-ray equipment which I believe the Department has available, without killing a single deer.

"I have been trying for some time to get the Conservation Department to utilize the services of their Game Wardens and Rangers in making surveys of yarded deer and [taking] deer counts. These men are in the woods almost daily and have a vast knowledge of deer yards, habitats etc. Also, when deer are killed by cars or predators, if the services of these men were employed the required organs, etc., from these deer could be removed and sent to the laboratory for observation, this saving the taxpayers countless dollars and preventing this unnecessary slaughter. The real objection in not using these men is because the public would learn the truth about Mr. Sevringhaus' paper deer herd, as those boys are the one unit of the Department that know what they are doing. They would not be working on theory as does Mr. Sevringhaus so a fairly accurate count could be tabulated. The deer take each year is arrived at by practically the same method (estimate).

"I have heard Mr. Sevringhaus state on numerous occasions (as have others) that he can go into any area and tell how many deer there are in a square mile. This is done with pencil and paper, a slide rule, some undergrowth and a quantity of deer droppings. To me this is a gross misstatement of fact. This is how he comes up with the big deer herd he claims is in the Moose River Valley (this varies from 2,000 to 3,000). I say that there are not more than 500 deer in this Moose River Valley. I also claim that I have a better chance of proving my claim, which would be from years of observation from the air, backed by Windhausen and Helms, other bush pilots in this area, and John Knox of Piseco, also by lumbermen and timber cruisers who spend practically all their time in the woods, as well as the time I have spent in the area on the ground.

"I am wondering what kind of a figure Mr. Sevringhaus would arrive at if he brought out his slide rule and taking this unnecessary kill and the known number of fawns and multiplied it by five years.

"Since I have been on the Board of Supervisors it has been the custom of the Conservation Department to meet with said Board and discuss any new laws or revisions to existing laws. So far this has been a waste of time as their minds are made up before there is any discussion. Last year the recommendations of this group were presented to Commissioner Wilm before they ever met with our Board and it was just by chance we found it out. Yet when we did get together they wasted two-and-a-half hours of our time trying to sell us a bill of goods. When we confronted them with this information they admitted it and also said they believed that Commissioner Wilm would go along with their recommendations (this was in regard to including the Southern part of Hamilton County in the party permit season).

"The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution against this procedure which was passed unanimously and a copy was sent to Commissioner Wilm. A letter was received from him acknowledging the receipt of the resolution and stating that he would give it due consideration. A short time later a second letter was received stating that he was sorry but he would have to go along with his Biology boys. It is for reasons like this that we distrust this type of game management. Another good reason for distrust and alarm is that at this same meeting Mr. Sevringhaus stated that he alone was responsible for the antlerless seasons and party permits systems. It is my firm belief that when one man in the Conservation Department can dictate what he wants and get it, we are awfully close to a dictatorship. This was told to the Conservation men at this meeting.

"We also told these men we felt it about time that we determined whether the Conservation Department or the Board of Supervisors was going to run Hamilton County. This is why we are seeking through legislation to curb these excessive powers.

"Let's look at the facts as well as the farce and not lose track of the fact that a short time ago Hitler, too, thought he was right and almost got away with it.

"I don't think anyone is against Biologists in general. They are probably a necessary evil and like our coydogs should be controlled, so let's get together and see this matter through to some reasonable conclusion.

"It's later than you think."


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