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For Environmental Balance, Pick Up a Rifle, by Nicholas Kristof Essay

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Nicholas Kristof’s article “For Environmental Balance, Pick up a Rifle,” which appeared in The New York Times, attempts to convince the American people that deer pose a danger to humans by taking more lives each year than any other American mammal. He states that deer populations, unchecked by predators, are increasing in a way that is unnatural and are destroying the ecosystem in many parts of the country. The suggestion he makes to his readers is that we must kill deer to bring the population down in order to prevent so many human deaths. Kristof appears to advocate hunting without much concern for other alternatives. While he does include statistical data to strengthen his point, other types of support he provides could be considered irrelevant or biased.
Kristof begins his article by engaging his readers to answer a simple question, “Which large American mammal kills the most humans each year?” He follows that up with a list of animals known for their predatory nature such as the bear, wolf and cougar only to reveal the actual culprit is a deer. The way the question is presented it sounds misleading, as if the animal intentionally meant to do a human harm. Instead of using the word “kill,” perhaps the words “are involved with the deaths of” may have been more appropriate. In this way, they do not imply the death was intentional.
The author provides information describing the deer population in parts of New Jersey; yet, he does not include any data regarding the population in the rest of the United States, nor does he include any sources of where this information was obtained. A reader may be more
inclined to agree with him if he provides statistical data reflecting the deer population everywhere.
Kristof implies tha...


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...trying to spin the anecdote to support his thesis that deer are a menace to humans.
The author concludes by stating that it is “time to reestablish balance in the natural world—by accepting the idea that hunting is as natural as bird-watching.” Kristof relates a passive act to an act of aggression. While it is possible that both can bring a sense of pleasure to participant, the assumption that one person would get the same levels of enjoyment from both is hard to believe, especially considering that both actions are at the far extremes of the same spectrum.
I feel that while Kristof presents a valid argument in support of hunting deer for population control and provides accurate statistical data, he fails to include a strong support for any alternative methods, and in some cases omits information in attempt to manipulate his audience’s feelings about the issue.



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