Most seemed to agree that the collars are unsightly and are likely to cause the animals a lot of distress, while one reader wants to know if the condition of the animal was reported to SNP officials.
|Buck Was Standing Near Visitor Center When Photographed by Billie G. Cromwell|
My Response: I spoke with Billie Cromwell who took the photographs and he said he felt no need to report this as the animal was in the lawn right beside the visitor center and was easily visible to maintenance workers and rangers. As much time as this buck spends between there and the Big Meadows campground makes it extremely unlikely that officials are not aware of the situation.
Fellow wildlife photographer, Dan Gomola raised the question:"Is there a any way people could band together against animal cruelty of these herds".
My Response: I have no good answer to this question. All I know to do is contribute what little I can by trying to draw awareness to the problem. One should also write letters to officials and attend public meetings. It would be nice if a large organization with a lot of political clout would take this up but it never seems to happen. As it is, it seems that the National Park Service has its' way regardless of public input.
Bill, who is an avid hunter and photographer, said, "Those appear to be the most intrusive tacking devices I've ever seen. Monitoring animals for study is fine I suppose but do it in a way that isn't a burden on the animal. With the technology available today those are a little more than over-the-top and ridiculous."
My Response: I agree completely.
|Over-The-Top and Ridiculous Collar|
My Response: I will approach the issue by first discussing the Pennsylvania elk herd which I am quite familiar with. I do not like to see collars on these animals either. It seems possible that some elk have had problems because of wearing collars, but I have never personally seen an elk's neck severely damaged by a collar. At one time many of the elk were fitted with brown collars with large yellow side plates attached on which the number of the animal was displayed. This is shown in the photo of bull 2D below.
|Bull 2D-Old Style Collar|
|Brown Collar Currently Used by PGC|
|Numbered Tag Is Larger Than Collar|
At this point I would like to take a closer look at two portions of Ms. Johnson's comments and respond to them.
Ms Johnson, " I would like to believe, as someone who is involved with the big game management in my state, that the managers in charge WOULD utilize something less ,if it was available."
My response: " I would like to think that too, but unfortunately after working most of my adult life for a state conservation agency, I wouldn't put too much stock in this. What is proposed and implemented can be mind boggling at times, in spite of the competence and good intentions of most agency personnel.
Ms Johnson, "The severity and scope of CWD, for example, is so large and potentially dangerous to our deer herds, that these measures of using hardcore collars, with big packs on them, is so necessary. Without this monitoring, "we" wouldn't be able to manage the deer herds for hunters, photographers, and other wildlife enthusiasts."
My response: I am aware of the statistics on the severity and scope of CWD, but it is not in the least bit clear to me how that measures such as this or drastic herd reduction are going to save the day. I may live to see the day that I regret this statement, but at this point I think that conservation agency and NPS reaction to the disease has the potential to have a far worse impact on the herd than the disease itself.
In closing, I will mention that I still list a blog or two in my side bar that are no longer updated on a regular basis. One of these is Larry Thorngren's . "The Wild Photographer". His last post about radio collars was "Abused Radio-Collared Bison-Yellowstone National Park" on Nov. 6, 2011. If you are interested in reading more about this type of thing, it may be worth your while to browse through his older posts.
Also check the comments section of this post to read more input from Larry W. Brown and follow the links to see photos of deer in winter that show severe hair loss from the collars.
Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.