Target: National Park Service
Goal: Stop the cull that would involve sharpshooters murdering deer in D.C.’s Rock Creek Park
The Rock Creek Park, situated in Washington D.C., has seen a steady increase in its deer population over the past several years leaving them at a current estimated 400 individuals. There were a reported 67 deer per square mile in 2009, and now the National Park Service has announced a plan to reduce numbers down to 15-20 per square mile — as low as 60 to 80 deer over the course of three years. A number of reasons have been cited for this move, including the nuisance to property for those who live in the vicinity of the park, the dozens of deer that are killed yearly in car crashes, and damage such as that caused when one deer smashed through the window of a public library. The most important one may be the damage being caused to the park itself as an overabundance of the animals poses a threat to plant life which is unable to recover fast enough.
However, the controversial aspect of the plan is the mode in which the reduction of deer has been decided upon: a cull through the use of sharpshooters to thin down the population. The cull will cost about $131,000 for the first year as the sharpshooters kill deer lured by bait at night during the winter and autumn. All the meat from those killed will be donated to local food banks. Many people oppose this plan of action, especially on safety grounds by those who note that the park has a homeless population, not to mention the common citizens who picnic late and will walk through at night regardless. These concerns aside, there are alternatives which would not need to involve the mass murder to many deer such as sterilization, contraception, and overall effective means of reproduction control.
Five residents of the area have now decided to sue in the United States District Court in order to halt the cull. They say that the National Park Service is in violation of laws that order it to conserve wildlife. Others have pointed to the Conservation Easement which does not permit the management of deer through “lethal means”, with over 200 residents allegedly opposing the action. Demand that the cull not be allowed and that alternative means be used to control the deer population in Rock Creek Park.
Dear National Park Service,
In May 2012 you announced the plan to reduce the number of deer living in the Rock Creek Park through a massive cull that would involve sharpshooters picking the animals off one-by-one. With an estimated 400 deer living in the park, the need for population control is understandable, particularly in light of the property damage caused not only to nearby residents, but to the park’s environment. However, a sharpshooter cull is not the best course of action.
Although you plan to take safety precautions by limiting shooting to winter and autumn nights, you cannot hope to completely put aside the risks associated with locals or otherwise who are uninformed and ignorant of the cull, not to mention the homeless population. More importantly, methods which do not involve mass murder do exist. You cite lack of time as a justification for your chosen method, but the same amount of time spent planning could’ve been put toward more serious consideration of reproduction control. Moreover, the culls timeframe already calls for three years for full effect.
Please reconsider what is being done on this land and choose a plan that will not involve danger for either humans or deer.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: FreeFoto.com