They Don’t Cull Deer in Panem—Why Do It in East Hampton?

Hunger Games deer
Graphic: Oliver Peterson

On Friday, June 21 Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione announced the passage East Hampton’s Comprehensive Deer Management Plan, which, for the first time, details “a specific policy framework directly addressing this critical public health and safety issue.”

The Town’s plan notes that our “uncontrolled deer overpopulation” affects all citizens of East Hampton through car accidents, deer fencing, environmental and economic impacts and even tick-borne diseases, and then goes on to explain how a large part of its strategy is to place the hunting community in charge of designing a managed cull. A “deer management coordinator” would also be put in place and the eventual culling would occur by expanding hunting areas, breaking down institutional barriers and recommending larger contributions of deer meat to local food pantries. offers this viewpoint from Penny Brasilia—a 14-year-old freshman at East Hampton High School, who spent time reviewing the Town’s plan and has written her detailed response below.

Dear Mr. Stanzione,

It’s super great and all that you want to keep deer off our roads and protect your precious vegetable and flower gardens at the cost of hundreds of their adorable deer lives, but this plan of yours is taking East Hampton Township down a very dark path.

Not long ago in 2012, as you may remember, The Hunger Games movie was released in theaters across the country. This film, based on the acclaimed and electrifying 2008 book of the same name by Suzanne Collins, tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl and citizen of District 12 in Panem who must fight other kids her age to the death in—what else?—the Hunger Games. This televised competition is Panem’s annual “culling” event that manages the starving, post-apocalyptic population and serves as a symbolic, and very real, punishment for a past rebellion against the controlling and totally mean government.

The Hunger Games is fiction, but it could definitely be real and it seems a little beyond coincidence that you use this term “cull” to describe this deer management plan. Personally, I don’t know ANYONE who will want to watch deer fight to the death on TV. Deer are generally very peaceful animals, even if their antlers and iron-like hooves could do serious damage and destruction upon certain foes of their various deer tribes.

I also don’t know any deer smart enough to create a lottery like the one they use to pick tributes (the fighters for each district in Panem) in The Hunger Games. Will you choose the tributes who fight? Will this culling include only younger fawns, as Suzanne Collins imagined/predicted? The whole plan seems very vague and up in the air. And it seems quite obvious how you’ll be getting all this extra meat for food pantries, and I’m not sure I like it.

I may be young, but I’ve seen Soylent Green and I don’t think any food pantry visitor will be happy to find out what kind of meat they’re eating.

In The Hunger Games Katniss uses a bow because she is a very adept and masterly archer back in District 12. Will the deer be given deadly weapons? I hope you have answers to my inquiries. I’m assuming the deer will be chosen as tributes from villages and hamlets within East Hampton Township. Can you confirm this? If possible, and if this actually happens, I’d like our Springs tribute deer to have antlers dipped in some kind of molten metal, which we would then allow to harden for sharpening later.

Please answer my questions soon. If your plan does come to fruition, our deer in Springs will be ready.

Very truly yours,

Penny Brasilia, cub reporter and concerned resident of Springs.

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