“Run quickly, run!!! It’s Man in the forest. We have to run cause he’s gotta gun.” I respond to my three year old’s urgent plea and dash through the living room, cardboard antlers firmly fixed on my head. I am Bambi’s dad, eternally brave in the face of danger. We finally make it to the bathroom slamming the door, but safe at last. I brush the fallen antlers out of my face. Bambi now lives in our house.
Since Bambi was first shown in 1942; it’s been rereleased about every nine years. This insured that each new crop of baby boomers was thoroughly indoctrinated. Now it is available on video. Who can forget the faces of the terrified animals fleeing the raging forest fire or the hunting sequence with guns blazing at every animal that moves. People are never even seen but their evil presence is an ominous undercurrent.
The animation is superb and what a storyline — the painful loss of a mother, the bonding of the youngster to his father, and Mr. and Mrs. Bambi raising twins and living happily ever after in the forest. The movies’s popularity after 40 years is testimony to its timelessness. But its anthropomorphic attitude toward deer and its negative portrayal of hunting has warped the public’s concept of proper deer management.
Unfortunately in most of California we have removed the major natural predator on deer — the mountain lion. The population of deer is higher now than it’s been in years. In some areas the deer have exceeded the carrying capacity of the land and these deer are under stress. They suffer from disease and parasites. Many wander into roads searching for food and get hit by cars.
Like it or not, humans are now in charge. If the predators that once controlled a population of animals is gone, then we should rectify that loss. In some cases this may be by hunting. Regardless of how you feel about hunting, it is much crueler to allow deer to slowly suffer from starvation and disease than to be shot. We need to balance our hearts with our minds.
This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective