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What is OVER population ?

January 21st, 2017

What is OVER population ?

A few years ago, I was fortunate to have an insightful conversation with a wildlife technician in Ontario. He had taken part in some research concerning deer over population. What he knew, was mainly from a Canadian perspective, but generally the same issues exist in the US, particularly the Eastern US.

The term ‘Over Population’ in relation to deer is a completely subjective term. How the term is defined, largely depends on if you are speaking with an ecologist, a farmer, a hunter, or society as a whole.

The hunter defines ‘Over Population’ based on the number of tags handed out. As long as the deer population doesn’t drop enough to reduce the number of tags being handed out, the hunter will define the deer as being “over populated”. All they care about is the thrill of their hobby.

The farmer defines ‘Over Population’ based on the loss of their own resources. Their concern is focused on how much damage deer do to their fields. If a farmer begins to have measureable losses in the revenue from their crops, then deer are “over populated”.
Hunting is usually the go-to solution for a farmer. Even though hunting is known to be only a temporary solution compared to other deterrents, it happens to be cheap.

Society defines ‘Over Population’ based on the number of accidents caused by deer. When vehicle accident rates rise too high, society quickly defines deer as being “over populated”. For society, hunting tends to be the cheaper solution then other deterrents to keep deer off roads.

The first three definitions are based solely on the needs of humans. Deer are over populated, so people can enjoy their hobby, cheaply protect their own revenue, and build roads over top of deer trails. None of those issues are about the protection of deer, or based on their needs as living beings. These definitions are based on human need.

The Ecologist, rightly defines over population in deer based on the available resources, and whether or not the habitat is being harmed
If or when deer begin to outstrip the resources of their habitat for a prolonged period of time, causing real damage to the habitat and ecosystem, the deer are over populated.
In reality, this is a very rare scenario. Deer, like many animals, follow a boom and bust cycle. Populations naturally grow until there are too many deer for the habitat to support. As the strongest deer outstrip the resources, the weaker deer cannot compete. They succumb to hunger and likely predation. The population then decreases, allowing time for nature to replenish. As the resources become over abundant again, the deer population will again rise.
Predators will follow a similar cycle, though slightly delayed. The cycle deer follow is reliant on plant based resources, while predators like the coyote and wolf, are balanced by their prey (like deer). The population of predatory animals will increase while deer populations increase. Then, as deer populations crash, predators will crash as well. Natural mortality factors such as, predation and starvation will keep the deer population from increasing/crashing too fast.

Deer becoming over populated in an ecological sense is very rare, because the populations naturally correct themselves. True over population can happen on islands where predators have been hunted to extirpation. Not only do some islands with deer have no predators, but many have locals who genuinely love seeing wildlife. Out of good intentions, they feed the deer continuously throughout the year, even in winter months.
As a result, this creates a large problem, as all of a sudden, you have deer who will not die due to predation or starvation. Old age and illness become the only mortality factors, and the deer continue to strip the habitat of all vegetation year after year without the normal population crash. In this situation a cull can be determined to be the only cost effective solution, followed by preventative measures. But it’s important to note that this circumstance usually comes about because of human interference. If people didn’t feed deer or hunt predators, there likely would never be a problem in the first place.
Predator hunting is a huge issue in the Eastern US, as the eastern cougar is practically non existent now. Even the wolf and black bear populations only remain in a few states.

My husband once had a conversation with a biologist who was responsible for setting the hunting limits for deer in a part of Ontario. The biologist basically said,

“The goal when setting hunting limits is to keep the deer right at the middle of the boom/bust cycle. We want a safe distance from a population crash, but don’t want to let them start to strip resources. Hunting plays an important role in avoiding the boom/bust cycle.”
After he said this, my husband asked him why? When so many animals follow a boom/bust cycle, why do we find it important to hunt deer to prevent it from taking place?

His answer was,
“Because we hunt deer”.

The biologist continued to elaborate, that if we didn’t hunt deer we wouldn’t need to control their population.
So, we hunt deer to control their population, literally, because we hunt deer, and create a problem in the natural boom/bust cycle. This is a cyclical reason, of course, and allows hunters to claim their hobby as an important management tool, even though it’s not the whole story.

The next time a hunter tells you people have to hunt because deer are over populated, you can tell them that deer are only over populated because you hunt. Hunting off sets their natural boom/bust cycle.
This conversation becomes even more cyclical when the hunted species is coyote. Coyote families will choose to mate again, when a family member is killed. Killing one coyote can bring on 3-12 more in his/her place. The person who uses hunting as a population control method, is actually causing the coyote population to increase.
Not too mention (But I will), coyote population growth was initially caused by the over hunting of wolves. The lack of wolves left a vacuum at the top of the food chain.

So, leave nature alone and it will balance itself.

South African Adventure

October 7th, 2015

South African Adventure

Terrified is one way to describe how I felt. My heart was going to come charging out of my chest, the plane would crash, and my life would be over.
Okay, so I'm somewhat over dramatic, but the fear was very very real. I've never been on a plane for more than one hour (and only to fly to and from the Sault and Toronto twice).
My spouse Jeff and I, said our goodbyes to our parents and two rescue cats. Traveling, I must admit, was nice. The world can either be an incredibly frightening place, or an incredibly beautiful place, for someone with a strong imagination. Sometimes, both.
The first ride to London went smoothly, but we were situated in the middle row, pretty crammed together. I learned pretty quickly that people do not care to check if you have enough leg room for them to put their seat all the way back. Jeff's leg's were painfully shoved right into his seat, due to his height. We always tried our best to be courteous to those behind us.
Once in London, Heathrow- It was a long 7 hour wait until our next flight to Johannesburg

We stayed just outside of Johanesburg at the Belvedere Hotel. This was our waiting point, just before the real trip would start and NOMAD ADVENTURES would pick us up and carry us off to our camp sight near Kruger Park. At Belvedere, it wasn't safe to go anywhere other than the property line, which was surrounded by a tall fence. Being near a big city, there was no real chance of meeting any dangerous animals. Just dangerous people.Though we were confined to a yard, it was a beautiful one. As enthusiastic birders (or wannabe birders), Jeff and I were thrilled to find some new species visiting the gardens. The yard was decorated with palm trees, the only tree I can really identify.
We arrived at Belvedere around 7 or 8 am and we were exhausted after having no sleep on the plane. So we only snapped a few photos of the pet chickens that ran loose around the yard, and a few small birds before having a well needed nap. The hotel used these old fashioned looking skeleton keys, which of course, decided not to work on our door. You get what you get though. Trying to lock the door, permenently locked us in. Not what I had in mind. Outside out window we could see the kitchen staff preparing dinner from across the small back yard. INobody could hear us, and even the fat chickens decided to ignore our calls and peck at the ground for bits of food.
Eventually, someone did hear us, and let us out. Only, we now couldn't lock our door again. Jeff piled our bags on the inside of the door that night to ensure it couldn't open very well from the outside. At least it was only one night, and the only guests were NOMAD guests on the tours, and after all, we were pretty much caged in.
The owner was friendly, and also enthusiastic about birds. He told us to keep an eye out in the morning before we leave, the Egyptian geese like to perch at the top of the hotel. That afternoon we arrived, we did get to see a weaver bird, making his nest. The bird works really hard to create THE most perfect nest to impress a girl. But if the girl doesn't like it, she rips it to shreds, leaving the poor boy to start all over again. Only, he doesn't get any second chances with that female. She's not impressed, and flutters off to find a more suitable mate. Weaver nests are interesting, as they look more like a hanging basket, then a nest we would see from a robin or sparrow. While doing some bird watching, we were happy to see a Black-shouldered Kite swoop in and land on a tree. This is a fairly small bird of prey. After his little show, we got to watch plenty of Ibis, with their long necks strutting around , doing their thing.
I could have spent forever photographing the birds, and I was glad the "waiting" day, was not wasted for us. I was a prepared to spend a day without any sightings, locked up in a yard...Pleasantly surprised for sure! So much life! The other guests weren't as impressed, and kept entertained by the pool or bar. When I wasn't looking at birds, it was because the sun went down and old George wouldn't let go of my shoe. George was the owner's small dog who believed my feet were something to chase and play with.
In the evening, everyone gathered together in the back yard for a BBQ. There were different groups, some coming in from an already existing adventure with Nomad, some were leaving and some continuing on with us. Other people, like us, had just arrived.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover there were three vegetarians with us, and one pescatarian. The vegetarian options were excellent. The food smelled delicious as we were served a large (stuffed)squash, some rice and pap (a corn meal dish).
When dinner was done, people started to make their way to the small bar, beside our hotel room. The area was small, leaving a little bar, and living room with sofas beside our door. Exhausted from the trip, Jeff and I hurried to bed. But the party was to continue on without us, and it was pretty loud. Thinking that maybe it would die down soon, I quickly drifted off into a heavy sleep regardless. I have no clue when everyone finally got to bed. All I knew, was that from now on, it was early mornings!

Stay tuned for more !

True Form- Now available Novel

May 13th, 2013

True Form- Now available Novel

'Bastet was once a powerful immortal in ancient Egypt known as an Original. She and the other two Originals, Sekhmet and Sun, were able to shapeshift at will into any wild feline.
When Sekhmet became a murderous threat to the world, the Originals were bound by a spell to suppress their powers, imprisoning Bastet into mortal form. But that punishment wasn’t enough for the Ancients, the shapeshifting canine immortals. They would rather see Sekhmet dead, even if that means finding and killing all three Originals to do so.

Now, stuck as a mortal human in North America, Bastet takes a job at a local psychic shop, where she plans to use her gift of sight to find the human prophesied to free her. When that human turns out to be a twelve year old child, descendant of the Ancient canines, Bastet must befriend and protect those she once hated for so long. Facing fires, attacks, and her own heart, Bastet must fight to break the spell and obtain her true form. '

I was inspired to write True Form after rescuing two beautiful black cats, Jellybean and Echo. I can now understand why the ancient Egyptians found the cats to be sacred. I have a hard time moving my sleeping cats from the bed, even if they are shoving me towards the floor. I'm sure cat owners will understand me.
True Form has everything from talking cats to ghosts. It is a lot of fun to get lost in a supernatural world. This story was written for ages 14+
I think anyne who loves animals will enjoy this novel.
My first novel 'Living With Spirits- My Life as a Spiritual Medium' was a book to help others connect to the other side and told the story of my own life and experiences with spirit. True Form is my first fiction novel out, so please check it out on Amazon-available on paperback or for e readers,
For all links to the book please visit my site at

You can also fan me on goodreads and read more blogs by me

Also, feel free to add me as a friend on facebook for updates and my wildlife photography. Author Sarah Christine Lalonde (link on my site).

Happy Reading!!

The Consequence of Trophy Hunting

February 23rd, 2013

The Consequence of Trophy Hunting

Back in October I posted a blog about the over-population myth. There is another important issue when it comes to hunting that needs to be addressed. That’s the roll (or lack of a roll) of trophy hunting. In Ontario as well as in many provinces and states there are laws to ensure that hunted animals aren’t wasted. These laws usually include provisions stating something to the effect of, all edible parts of the animal must be used as food unless the animal (or part) is to be used as a trophy.

The purpose of these laws is to promote conservation, by ensuring that hunters won’t take more then they will use. The overall effect however, isn’t at all in line with any conservation objective. It’s downright amazing that so many governing bodies have made the same mistake, especially since we have understood the basic rules of biology since one famous book was published 1859. The book I’m referring to is of course Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The trouble with trophy hunting (beyond the fact that it’s killing animal for no purpose other than the enjoyment of the hunter) is the effect that trophy hunting has on the evolution of wildlife populations.

Obviously, when I say hunting effects the evolution of a population, I don’t mean it’s changing the animals into new species. The effect is much more subtle, but not at all unimportant. The most notable effect is on the size of the animals targeted by trophy hunters. Most animals hunted as trophies have a social structure where only the biggest and strongest males ever get to breed. This ensures that only the genes of the healthiest animals are passed on. It’s survival of the fittest in the most basic sense.

With ungulates the biggest strongest male with the largest set of antlers or horns, after proving his strength, is the only one allowed to breed, often with a whole harem. In wolves (or lions if we look globally), only the alpha is allowed to breed and the only way to become the alpha is to beat the previous alpha. Bears are known for their fights not only over females but also over food.

So what happens when the biggest, strongest animals of each generation are systematically removed by trophy hunting? Well, when the alpha is gone from a population the beta gets his chance to breed. That’s assuming the beta wasn’t taken as well. Bottom line is the breeding male ends up passing on genes that weren’t meant to be passed on. Their smaller size and weaker strength moves to the next generation. Often, this smaller size is not just representative of the genes for size but the animal’s ability to actually thrive in their environment. In the long run populations become not just smaller, but weaker, more prone to disease, and more at risk of collapse in the event of stressors like drought, famine, and extreme cold

While in a year over year comparison the effect of trophy hunting is negligible, the effect over a period of time can be quite huge. New studies are beginning to show that the average size of trophy species in North America have dropped substantially over the last hundred years. This fact can be easily confirmed by looking in the trophy records of any long running hunting club.
The bottom line is if you really care about the long term health of wildlife populations, “hunt” with a camera not a gun and you will ensure that the trophies of the future will still be big enough to be considered trophies.

LIVING WITH SPIRITS-My Life As A Spiritual Medium

April 4th, 2012

LIVING WITH SPIRITS-My Life As A Spiritual Medium

Natural born medium, Sarah Christine Lalonde is able to connect with the other side and bring people closer to their loved ones. Sarah brings us her story of growing up with spirits and how we too can connect with our loved ones who have passed on. Learn more about how to safely connect with your own spirit or animal guide, understand the empathic child, and learn about energy healing through channeled information. This book is a reminder of the spirituality all around us and how much we are loved and protected by the other side. Illustrated by Lisa Hayes-- Professional Graphic Designer Lisa Hayes can be contacted at


Fox as a Totem

January 9th, 2012

Fox as a Totem

When fox enters your life it is time to observe life in silence. She knows and understands without being seen. She has the ability to adapt to anything. Let fox teach you the cleverness, playfulness, and her ability to camouflage. If you're lucky, she will introduce the world of Elementals (Faery Realm) to you and all its magical energy.

Elementals are tiny spirits who are attracted to nature, shiny objects, and toys.They love to "borrow" shiny objects, like keys or earrings (If you thought for certain you placed your earrings or keys on a table, you probably did! Don't worry, it'll turn up sooner or later). Just like the little fox kits Elementals love to play around.

Bear Totem

October 8th, 2011

Bear Totem

As Spirit the bear brings a strong wisdom and a strong vision that we are to listen, understand, and learn from. They are the influence of our vivid dreams where we are able to connect with the Other Side. When Bear walks your path alongside you she is bringing with her a message. Listen closely to your dreams, what are they telling you?
Upon awakening, gently close your eyes once more and roll into a fetus position as you rest. Let any thought or feeling roll back into your mind. Many times we awake to the shocking noise of an alarm clock and rush towards our busy day. This slower process allows you the chance of remembering your dreams and as time goes on remembering will become easier.

Write your dream down. Pick out each symbol while taking nothing literally. Many dreams may be of a literal sense from Spirit yet for the most part they will usually remain symbolic. What feelings did you have? Write them down, what colours did you see? Does yellow mean caution to you or success? Is fruit representing nutrition or a goal coming to fruitation? Look at each symbol on your own and give it the meaning which comes from your own heart and intuition. With time and practice you will come to understand the lessons , messages, and wisdom that come from Spirit and your own energy and soul. Bear will walk with you as you learn and come to know your dreams as well as she does.

Bear wisdom brings love for children as well. She protects her cubs and so to will help you protect your own child/ren and guide others. Bear may be guiding those who have or work with children or anyone who is missing their dreams message. -For information about my low cost /affordable readings online - For more Photos