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From Spring 2004 Issue

Mohonk Responds to Ron Baker

Here are excerpts from the letter that Ron received in response to his letter to Mohonk condemning their hunting program as being unscientific. (If you don’t recall Ron’s article in the last issue of the Courier, please go to: . You can go to our website, click on “Courier” and then click on the newsletter prior to this one.)

Dear Mr. Baker:

Thank you for your letter expressing concern about the Mohonk Preserve’s deer hunting program…..

The Mohonk Preserve has a deep regard for nature, and we base all of our management decisions on this deep regard. Part of our process is to constantly increase our understanding of the ecosystem of the Shawangunks. Our limited and controlled hunting program helps us to manage the impact of Whitetail deer on this ecosystem. The Shawangunk Ridge Biodiversity Partnership has identified the Whitetail deer as a major threat to biodiversity on the ridge. Results from our ongoing browse studies should allow us to more directly determine the specific impact of deer on other species here…..[Editor’s note: Ron has already done that. There are none.]

Our rangers patrol extensively to ensure the safety of visitors and hunters….[They have a handful of rangers and thousands of acres of land.] Our safety record regarding hunting is unblemished. There are no recorded hunting accidents….[The word “recorded” is the key word here. C.A.S.H. had a report that a dog was shot and killed by a hunter at Mohonk.] ...

We look to all Preserve visitors for their understanding of the legitimate role of hunting within our mission.

Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director

While they suggest that Ron go to , it can take 30 minutes to find the particular link of interest. Most people who go to that link will be uninformed about Mohonk’s hunting policy. Here is the more direct link:  The usual cast of characters is mentioned as comprising the committee to determine how deer management should operate: Fawn Tantillo, the bow hunter, former gunshop owner, and, until recently, Ulster County legislator; and Dick Henry, the former “big game biologist” with the DEC.

Contact Mohonk to express your disgust with their sport hunting program for profit and not ecological need.

Some of the writing points are:

A dog was shot and killed on Mohonk property whether they have recorded it or not. C.A.S.H. has the specifics.

Deer do not overpopulate in dense forest which is the case at the Preserve .

One deer per 10 acres is not an overpopulation by any stretch of the imagination.

A naturalist who examined their experimental station observed that the deer do not pose a threat to precious biodiversity.

They are charging hunters to hunt at the Preserve, hunting is merely another business for them.

They are risking the lives of other users of the preserve who are also charged a fee.

Refer them to the hunting accidents that have occurred in general, the C.A.S.H. website is growing into an excellent source of accidents and violations.

C.A.S.H. is grateful to Ira Brant for his courageous letters to the editor in the local paper which alerted us to Mohonk’s hunting policies. After two meetings with the board, demonstrations, and hundreds of petition names presented to them, Mohonk has dug their heels deeper into the muck due to close ties with the game agency and, on the part of some board members, natural inclination.

We are not dealing with objective “stewards.” One of the Smileys, founding family of the Mohonk Preserve and House, provided an affidavit to support opening up Harriman State Park to hunting in the 1980’s. Fortunately, that was a battle that C.A.S.H., under Luke Dommer, fought hard to win, and C.A.S.H prevailed in that instance.


What is needed is a far reaching change that will sever the ties of wildlife management to the weapons manufacturers. This sweeping, yet simple solution can and should be the major goal of those who oppose sport hunting. If you would like to work in your state on this, please contact [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you.

We welcome your comments


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