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Congressional Members Urge Interior Department to Consider Contraception for Deer

U.S. Reps. Norton, Moran and Van Hollen say the project in Rock Creek Park could serve as a model for other parks.

The Humane Society of the United States praises U.S. Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Jim Moran, D-Va.; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., for sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that the National Park Service consider a contraception project to control deer populations in Rock Creek Park. The collaborative pilot project, proposed by The HSUS, would use a less expensive non-lethal, one-shot, multi-year immunoncontraception vaccine to stabilize and reduce the number of white-tailed deer in the urban park. Similar immunocontraceptive programs have been successfully used in multiple trials to reduce deer and wild horse populations, including in public-private partnerships between the NPS and HSUS on Fire Island, N.Y., and Assateague Island, Md.  

The HSUS prepared and submitted the proposal to the NPS after reviewing and providing comments on the agency’s Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, which was released in the fall of 2009. The statement outlined several lethal and non-lethal options, but indicated that, at this time, the NPS favors the alternative that would include using sharpshooters and archers to kill deer.

Proceeding with a plan to kill the deer would be highly controversial because many residents of the D.C. metro area enjoy Rock Creek Park specifically because they enjoy watching the deer there. Additionally, lethal programs would require areas of the park to be closed for undefined periods of time, which would interfere with recreational activities. Non-lethal controls are less expensive, and The HSUS has offered to assume 50 percent of the cost of the proposed five-year project, which would save taxpayers approximately $170,000.

“We appreciate the efforts of U.S. Representatives Moran, Norton and Van Hollen to bring our proposal to Secretary Salazar’s attention,” said John Grandy, Ph.D, senior vice president for Wildlife and Habitat Protection for The HSUS. “The immunocontraception pilot project would be a win-win for the National Park Service, D.C. metro residents, taxpayers and tourists alike. Unlike the lethal approaches under consideration, our proposed project is safe, humane, economical, and would not require park closures.”

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, (301) 258-1491; stwining@humanesociety.org

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