To the editor:

If you want to see wildlife at Parker River Wildlife Refuge, make sure to go when the deer are still alive. Know one thing too. A peaceful and serene place to visit, the refuge is not meant for you. It is meant for hunters.

When I started speaking out against refuge hunts, almost 25 years ago now, I described the annual deer hunt as the refuge’s “dirty little secret.”

I’ll give them one thing, though – at least they’re not hiding it anymore. They are right upfront about killing their deer these days.

It’s not for so-called population control — that’s how they’ve euphemized it for 25 years. Now, they just say it outright. It’s about killing animals for the thrill of it. Sport. Recreation.

The refuge has six priority “recreational” uses for the public to enjoy. Hunting tops their list. Somewhere near the bottom, wildlife viewing shows up. Wildlife. The way we like to enjoy it: alive.

I stopped going to the refuge 25 years ago, when all I could see, through the serenity and beauty, was a deathtrap for deer.

Deer who are acclimated to people. Deer who allow humans to approach close enough to take their picture. Deer who are safe – except for two brutal days in December when they are approached, not with cameras, but with guns. They are slaughtered and killed for the fun of it. For the hell of it. For the horror of it.

I don’t expect anyone to boycott the refuge as I did. But can we all agree to do one simple thing? Next time you go, tell the attendant that takes your money or the friendly ranger you meet on the path that you hate it that they kill the deer and you want them to stop!

One voice added to another voice added to another voice. Your voice for refuge wildlife who don’t have one.

Carol Abarbanell

Rotonda West, Fla.

The letter writer is a former Newburyport resident.

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