Wauwatosa’s “Cecil the Lion”

On December 13, 2015, a hunter used a crossbow to shoot a favorite neighborhood buck in a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin park just west of Milwaukee. The subsequent outrage proves that, once again, shooting a popular animal is not a popular thing to do.

The buck, like Cecil the Lion, was a beautiful animal with distinctive coloration. He was well known to park visitors and fondly referred to by name. He was also a special favorite of photographers, whose pictures of the buck ended up on calendars, outdoor magazine covers, and websites.

The results of the killing were standard: newspaper headlines, a big spot on the evening news, and interviews with upset residents. Endless online comments followed about the hunter’s unfortunate behavior and about how much the buck would be missed by hundreds, if not thousands, of park visitors who had seen the deer during its nine year life in the Menomonee River Parkway .

The kill, however, was not legal. The hunter wasn’t wearing blaze orange, it was antlerless season, and the deer was in a Milwaukee County park where hunting is prohibited. The hunter, who fled the scene after wardens were notified by another park visitor, was eventually identified and cited for multiple hunting violations.

People who advocate the hunting of white deer argue that, no matter how unique, they aren’t any more special than any other deer–that enjoying a particular deer and giving it a name is the act of a sentimental few.

But…wait a second…this buck was brown! And the unique color was a bowtie-shaped white bib under its chin that gave the buck a suave look and an easy name: Bowtie (of course)! And now Bowtie has joined the ranks of favorite neighborhood deer who, through either thoughtless laws or a few thoughtless hunters, have been unnaturally removed from public enjoyment.

It just goes to show that, as with Cecil the Lion, familiarity and attachment to individuals is not the province of white deer, or even just deer. People do enjoy viewing and encountering unique and beautiful animals–and they want to see and photograph them again and again.

If people can get attached to a brown deer like this, what about a white one that is 20,000 times more rare and unique? This story just goes to show that, whether an animal is brown or white, or whether it is or isn’t legal to shoot, there are certain animals that are far more valuable to a community alive than dead.

There need to be laws to protect such animals, and, as in this case, hefty enough fines and consequences so people like this Wauwatosa hunter won’t be so tempted to make quick and unwise (and illegal) decisions in the future. 

To see photos of Bowtie and learn more about his untimely death, click:  http://fox6now.com/2015/12/15/a-cecil-the-lion-case-in-wauwatosa-popular-deer-named-bowtie-poached-with-crossbow/