Ban on feeding deer absurd

Here's why it is so much cooler to be a simple New Mexico columnist instead of a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Instead of waking up at 3 a.m. troubled by the awesomely complex decision about whether the federal government has the constitutional right to force Americans to purchase health insurance, you get to ponder whether your city government can stop you from feeding deer.

Throughout New Mexico there are magnificent mountain terrains whose residents welcome you flatlanders from places like Clovis and Las Cruces to come join us in a celebration of nature. Bring your wallet.

Note the following on speed limit signs in places like Cloudcroft, or Angel Fire, or Ruidoso, or Silver City. Ignore that 35 mph nonsense. A max of 14 mph — coupled with an alert driver poised to stop on a dime — is mandatory to avoid a deer collision.

The "deer nuisance," as some have labeled it, occasionally prompts a local effort to ban feeding. The idea is that the more you feed deer the more likely they will descend from Deerland and roam streets of otherwise crimeless neighborhoods.

This argument ignores the fact the deer were here first, and it should be ignored. It is nothing but fuzzy-headed thinking of teary-eyed tree huggers. Please don't let the meddlesome, lefty New York Times know what's going on with New Mexico deer. They are already miffed by what we are doing to our horses.

It is hard to argue with the fact deer can be a nuisance. A gardener can spend two days planting beautiful flowers only to awaken the next morning and find them chomped to bits. This can cause strange reactions.

I have watched a certain lady I will call "Roberta" actually stand on the front porch wagging her finger while delivering a rather stern and complex lecture to the deer, explaining why eating her flowers is not a good idea.

Bambi looks at her as if perplexed. Me, too.

Flowers can be replaced. So can fenders. And while I cannot prove it, I would bet guys like "Fast Eddie" who own auto body repair shops are secretly funding wishy-washy weaklings who defend deer feeding.

Deer feeding opponents complicate the matter by inviting to the discussion people who actually may know what they are talking about. Wildlife biologists claim bleeding hearts who think they are helping deer by feeding them are actually helping to kill them.

One answer may be to stop calling them "deer." A recent news story referred to them as "ungulates." Those who feed deer might give a second thought to pampering an ungulate.

I was once a deer sympathizer who has toughened as he watched this debate unfold. I no longer go out in the chilly evening and throw blankets over shivering doe.

It's hard, though, this manly disregard for God's hungry creatures. I will often encounter a front-yard deer visitor who looks at me plaintively, a sad-eyed plea for a handout. And I know if that deer could play a guitar it would squat on a tree stump and strum "Kumbayah."

Bottom line, I feel good to live in a country that passionately defends my right to buy a gun and shoot a deer, but is a little squishy on my right to feed one.

Which gets us back to the constitution, this pesky decision on forced health insurance. If the high court decides the government cannot require me to buy health insurance, does that mean I can tell the authorities to go sit on it when they say I can't drive without first buying liability insurance?

I suspect those two ideas are totally unrelated and their juxtaposition simply suggests my level of intelligence needs to restrict itself to the deer feeding kerfuffle.

Thank you for nodding your heads in agreement.

Ned Cantwell — ncantwell@bajabb.com — is also wrestling with the concept of municipally installed speed bumps. His head hurts.

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