Ever hear of The Onion?  The Onion is “the world’s leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1765, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.”  

The latest headlines include:

It’s called satire.  Truth with a biting edge and far out conclusions.

There seems to be a bit of confusion over a recent post proclaiming that rodents are responsible for the majority of the predator kills on the fawn project.  This conclusion was reached after receiving DNA results taken from carcasses.  

Marvin Gaye warns us to believe only half of what we see and none of what we hear.  What he is really saying is be critical thinkers but that doesn’t have quite as nice a ring to it.  

I have written about flesh eating deer, the undead, and vampires (twice!).  I have linked deer to Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwight Yoakam, and onion rings.  I try not to take myself too seriously (I did include a photo of a feathered dinosaur as part of the post in question). 

Think about how we determine the cause of a fawn mortality or anything in science really.  

First, always consult multiple sources of information.  Science doesn’t rely on one and neither should you.  When investigating a mortality event, there are 3 distinct phases:  field investigation, necropsy, and DNA.  We do not draw our conclusions from one of these but all three.  

Second, DNA is not the end all be all.  Because if it were, we’d be recommending a mouse season with a liberal bag limit.  I was not kidding when I said that the DNA evidence pointed to rodents.  Another reason why multiple DNA swabs are taken from multiple wound sites.  But as you can see, that does not mean we will be able to DNA-type the correct predator.

Third, the larger lesson with regard to deer and forest management is that we need to gather as much information as possible in order to make the best management recommendations.  Nothing is ever as simple as a single DNA test or soil sample.  

So take a step back, review ALL the evidence, draw reasonable conclusions, and determine the best course of action.  This can and should be applied to all areas of life not just deer and forest management. 

However in the meantime, I’ll be working up my suggestions for a Peromyscus season 😉

-Jeannine Fleegle
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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