Written February 17, 2011     

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Should the Buddhists get the deer back?

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© 2016 Bob Lonsberry


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Give the Buddhists back their deer.


Give the Buddhists their deer back.

This is the story of Lucky, a female white-tail deer which has spent the last two years in a pen behind the Buddhist temple in Henrietta, New York.

Dropped off there as a fawn, Buddhist monks nursed her and fed her and kept her.

And all was right in the world.

Granted, you don’t know a lot of people with a pet deer in the back yard, but what’s the harm in it?

Apparently, according to the state of New York, a great deal.

See, in New York, thanks to the deep thinkers in the state capitol, it is against the law to either feed or own wildlife.

Lucky for you the SWAT team hasn’t heard about your birdfeeder.

Probably they’re going to have to Tase that old lady on the bench feeding the stale bread to the pigeons.

Anyway, though there are any number of dead and mangled deer littering most of upstate New York’s roadsides, people aren’t allowed to actually own one.

Which is odd, considering I’ve got one in my freezer.

Anyway, for two years the Buddhists and their deer lived happily as they together searched for karma.

Or is that Hinduism?

Anyway, everything was fine. The deer was happy and healthy, and the Buddhists enjoyed its company. Probably the little-kid Buddhists really enjoyed its company. Probably, everybody grew very fond of the deer.

I know I would.

Anyway, some people being jerks, a neighbor called the cops.

Apparently, there are some people who are so bitter about their own miserable lives that they like to rain on other people’s parades. So somebody notified the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Them’s the Revenuers.

So the DEC called the Buddhists.

And told them they were going to come over and kill the deer.


Because they represent the state of New York and the state of New York typically has its head in a dark and unsanitary place.

And, sometimes, to save wildlife, you’ve got to kill it.

You shoot a deer in February, and it’s a federal case. They shoot a deer in February, and it’s high fives all around.

Anyway, the Buddhists didn’t want their deer to be shot.

But the Revenuers said that an animal that had lost its fear of humans was dangerous and had to be destroyed.

Because so many people are killed each year in white-tail deer attacks.

Anyway, the hundreds of mall geese – which seem pretty unafraid of humans – are protected, but some guy in a saffron robe makes friends with a deer and the DEC gets out a 30-30.

As it turns out, Buddhists do more than just pray.

They also call their representatives.

Specifically, state Sen. Jim Alesi.

Quick review: Yes, they had to get a state senator involved in order to keep Barney Fife from turning Lucky’s brain pan into a pinkish mist in the cold winter air.

Anyway, after the intercession of Jim Alesi, the DEC allowed that, yes, in the spirit of religious tolerance, maybe they didn’t have to shoot the deer.

But they did have to take it away.

Heaven forbid some people have a deer in their backyard.

Never mind that in the Rochester region thousands of deer graze in thousands of backyards on a daily basis. The idea of Bambi’s pals taking a poop in your rhododendrons is not new to the people of upstate New York.

Anyway, the Revenuers said that regular people couldn’t be trusted with a deer, and a “trained wildlife rehabilitationist” had to be called in.

Translation: Someone on the verge of being a cat hoarder who got some bogus permit from the state.

I mean, what exactly is a wildlife rehabilitationist?

Do they teach raccoons how to walk with a crutch? When a deer stands transfixed on the side of the road in the dark of the night by passing headlights – you know, like a deer in the headlights – do they treat it for post-traumatic stress syndrome?

Basically, a “trained wildlife rehabilitationist” is somebody who keeps a deer in a pen in their backyard.

Which is where this all began.

Anyway, yesterday morning, with the DEC there to officially warn the Buddhists not to trifle with any more New York wildlife, the rehabilitationist came to squeeze the deer into a cage – that had to be fun for the deer – and take it back to her house.

Deer her house good, deer Buddhist house bad.

Because we’re the government and we said so.

The monks who raised the deer are off in Laos reminding themselves what it’s like to live where there’s no inside plumbing. When they get home, they – like all their fellow believers – will be sad.

For no good reason.

Because this is all preposterous.

The Buddhists were doing nothing wrong or sinister, and it is an asinine and oppressive law that would say so.

And sparing this deer from the unnecessary euthanasia of the state is not enough.

Give the Buddhists their deer back.

They have demonstrated for two years that they are responsible enough to safely and humanely care for this animal. It is their pet. They are fond of it and it is accustomed to them.

And to take it away is cruel to human and deer alike.

And somebody higher up the food chain needs to put a fire under the self-important arse of these DEC people.

No matter how intensive the 20-minute training required to become a wildlife rehabilitator is, it is likely that at least one of these Buddhists is capable of being a wildlife rehabilitator.

And somebody at the DEC ought to get out a pen and sign a permit that says just that.

Declare one of the Buddhists a wildlife rehabilitator and bring Lucky back to the only life she has ever known.

Because a backyard pen is a backyard pen. And to capriciously insist that this deer must be taken by force of law from one pen to another is neither wise nor moral.

In fact, it is a pretty fair illustration of an arrogant, autocratic government that has long since grown oppressive of people’s freedom.

This is exactly what the New York state government is like. Hateful, mindless, self-important and oafish.

And this isn’t really about a deer.

It is about freedom, and a nation where the people rule and the tyrants are kept at bay.

And if the DEC is confused about that, maybe it should call Egypt.

Give the Buddhists back their deer.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2011

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