I was saddened by the manner in which the Deer Committee’s vote was reached to recommend deer culling to the River Forest Village Board of Trustees. However, as the committee considers its final report, I do hope the members re-evaluate their reading of the survey and, based on recent national events, the dangers of ignoring facts in favor of advancing questionable positions.
Based on the article, at least one committee member saw a mandate from the people supporting culling. That is an unusual conclusion based on the reported facts. Of the River Forest residents responding, as to the specific question of culling, which I understand defines the charter of the committee’s recommendation, 764 of 1,509 respondents (50.6%) voted either to do nothing or to pursue non-lethal options. This shows an admittedly slim majority favoring no or a non-lethal solution, even with a general recognition that the deer were damaging vegetation (87.3%) and leaving feces in yards (62.1%). Even acknowledging these issues, which I did in my ballot, a majority still opposed any lethal action.
Only 332 (22%) favored the lethal option using professional sharpshooters. I am sure they are convinced that this will be a good learning opportunity for their children and grandchildren, and I am sure they will bring those children to witness the culling and to learn how we should best interact with nature and the world around us.
And 280 respondents (18.6%) preferred a combination of culling and non-lethal means. Even if one performs the very questionable analysis and includes the mixed-resolution voters in the culling camp, you merely reach 40.6%. The remaining 133 votes (8.8%) were reported as either taking no position or some alternative position.
These results are far from the mandate in support of culling claimed by Village Trustee Cargie and committee member Hollenbach. In fact, I recall clearly from grade school math that 50.6% is a larger percentage than 40.6%. It is also larger than 49.4%, if one includes votes expressing no or other opinions.
I agree 100% with Mr. Hollenbach that “it’s time to listen to the people.” I also think it is time for him to revisit some of his school math texts. I am proud of a village that would solicit residents’ input on a topic such as this. I find it reprehensible and unconscionable that the input would be ignored. Committee member Madden is correct that the process was a sham.
Mr. Cargie is also correct in saying this process was “reflective of our village” and our village president, though I do not believe Mr. Cargie and I would agree on whether this was a good or bad thing. Here is simply another example of an official needing to prove they are right and losing sight of what it means to do the right thing.
If that sounds familiar based on four years of recent experience, maybe we can indeed learn from history. Maybe we can reflect that learning at the April election too.
Chris and Mary Hillcoat are River Forest residents.