Help Stop the Bow Hunt at Lehigh County’s Trexler Game Preserve

It is our pleasure to report that Joe Miele, better known to readers of the Courier as “Uncle Joe,” has joined the staff of C.A.S.H./Wildlife Watch, and will be working to increase our exposure and influence locally and nationally. Joe will regularly contribute OpEds and letters to the editors of periodicals across the country and will be working on special projects. His help will hasten the day when sport hunting enters the “dustbin of history,” as Luke Dommer so eloquently phrased it.

By Joe Miele

On May 11th , Wildlife Watch received a call from a concerned citizen regarding a Lehigh County, PA owned property: the Trexler Game Preserve. She and many others were horrified to learn that the County Executive was going to allow hunting in the preserve for the first time ever.

The Lehigh-Trexler Game Preserve was once owned by industrialist General Harry C. Trexler (1854 – 1933). General Trexler owned and operated a lumber company and a cement company, as well as being involved with public utilities including water, electricity, public transportation and telephones. He held seats on several corporate boards as well as trusteeships at three area hospitals, two colleges and a university. Trexler founded the 1,100-acre game preserve in North Whitehall and Lowhill townships in 1906 as a wildlife park to help save the North American bison from extinction after he was advised both elk and bison could thrive in the Lehigh Valley. After his death this property was deeded to Lehigh County in 1935 to be a public wildlife preserve. No public hunting has ever been allowed, and the property has become a sanctuary for deer, turkeys and other animals. The preserve is known for its dramatic views, diverse land character, picturesque creeks and rustic covered bridges. To date, sixteen of the preserve’s mammal species have been observed directly or noted by their tracks or sounds and twenty other species are unobserved, but probable.

The “Master Plan”
On November 17, 2005 a “Master Plan” for the preserve was introduced to the public with its goals being to open and “improve” the entire preserve property, to create access for “recreation” and education, to protect environmentally sensitive areas, and to restore the natural character of the plant life by removing non-indigenous plant species (such as autumn olive). Since a good portion of the property is inaccessible, roads through the preserve would be constructed, hiking and biking trails would be built, and there was the “problem” of deer. We at C.A.S.H. know what that means.

An article in the May 10, 2007 edition of the Lehigh Valley daily newspaper, The Morning Call, explained the Master Plan for the preserve in greater detail. (Bowhunters get a shot at nature preserve, hikers, bird watchers and others will also have more land at Trexler site open to them. 5/10/07) Nearly 500 acres of the preserve will be opened to bowhunting this September 29th, a move initiated by Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham.

The Bow Hunt
In cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Mr. Cunningham has given the green light for bow hunters to kill deer and turkeys on a 471-acre portion of the preserve commonly known as the North Range, despite freely admitting that they do not know how many deer live on the Preserve. They seek to kill them anyway, to provide hunters with “recreational opportunities.” While deer are being made out to be the enemies of the preserve for eating the native vegetation (how dare they try to find something to eat!), neither the Game Commission, the County Executive, nor any other scientific or government body has deemed wild turkeys to be having a detrimental effect on the preserve’s fauna or fauna. Despite this, they are included in the killing plans to again provide hunters with “recreational opportunities.”

Opening the preserve to hunting was possibly done to appease hunting groups, some of which protested the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s March meeting because hunters have killed off so many deer that hunters are whining about not having enough animals to kill. In an article from the Patriot News, hunters complained to the Game Commission that they need to reduce the number of does killed in some regions by as much as 70 percent to help the herd repopulate. (Deer Fight, Commission prodded to cut doe tags 3/6/07.)

While bow hunting is being planned for the next four years, it is safe to assume that the hunting community will ensure that deer and other wildlife are slaughtered on the preserve’s property in perpetuity.

There is no reason to believe that things will be any different on the preserve than they are anywhere else, if the Pennsylvania Game Commission and its army of Nimrods have its way. The hunting programs orchestrated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s have devastated the state’s wildlife and the areas where they live. Gary Alt, a former chief biologist for the Game Commission as recently as 2004 has made some telling statements about the state of “deer management” in Pennsylvania. In an article from the April 25, 2001 edition of the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, Mr. Alt states “The bottom line is that we’ve been trying to raise more deer than the land can sustain,” and he also implies that the PGC mismanages wildlife in very un-scientific ways when he states “Vocal hunters have dominated wildlife managers’ plans since the early 1900s,” “The managers’ willingness to bow to their wishes has skewed the way wildlife is managed.”

In the December, 2005 issue of “Central New York Outdoor Journal” Mr. Alt has more damning words for the state of wildlife management as practiced by the PGC. Alt states that deer management “has been the biggest mistake in the history of wildlife management,” and refers to it as “malpractice.” The author of the article goes on to state:

“What is the reason for the management problem? Hunters, who have paid the freight with their license dollar, have always asked for more deer. Biologists have responded with various techniques that allow deer herds to build beyond the carrying capacity of the forests, and now they are paying the penalty with declining forest regeneration. The basic premise is that biologists have kept hunters happy but ruined the forest.”

Currently, Wildlife Watch is supporting the efforts of Virginia Wolfe of the Lehigh Valley Animal Rights Coalition in an effort to stop to the barbarity of bow hunting in the preserve before it begins, but we need your help to make this happen. Letters and phone calls are needed to the County Executive of Lehigh County, Mr. Don Cunningham, as well as to each of the members of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. In your firm but polite communication with these county officials, feel free to use the following facts:

· Bow hunting is barbaric. Studies show that bow hunters wound and cripple more deer than they quickly kill (Langenau (1986), published in “An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey” The New Jersey Division of Fish and Game, 1990)

· New hunting opportunities are being proposed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission merely to satisfy hunters who feel there are not enough animals to kill, and this is not justification for opening another area to hunting.

·There has been no public hunting in the Trexler Game Preserve since it was deeded to the county in 1935

· Hunters can already hunt on the nearby State Game Land 205 – no further hunting is needed in the area.

· The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is desperate for money. Pennsylvanians are losing interest in hunting, as evidenced by the almost 14% drop in the number of adult resident hunting licenses sold (by far the largest segment of license sales) between 1998 and 2005. This is not a reason to open up another hunt, and

Mr. Don Cunningham, County Executive
Lehigh County Government Center, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA 18101-2400; 610-782-3001

And also please contact the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners:

Percy H. Dougherty, Chairman –
Daniel K. McCarthy, Vice Chair –
Glenn Eckhart –
Kurt J. Derr –
Sterling H. Raber –
James L. Kelly –
Joan L. Fredericks –
Andy Roman –
Marc J. Grammes –
The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners
Lehigh County Government Center, Room 408, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA. 18101-2400
Phone: 610-782-3050 , Fax: 610-820-3053

JOE MIELE is Campaign Director for C.A.S.H. Joe’s quarterly column in the C.A.S.H. Courier, the publication of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting is Ask Uncle Joe.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561