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The HSUS Criticizes National Park Service for Killing Deer at Rock Creek Park

Agency failed to take advantage of humane deer population control through contraception

The Humane Society of the United States is strongly criticizing the National Park Service’s decision to kill deer at Rock Creek Park beginning Wednesday night. According to a press release posted on the park’s website yesterday, the agency’s immediate plans are to continue killing deer until March 30, at a time when many female deer are pregnant. However, the park’s deer management plan also calls for killing deer over the next three years.

“The National Park Service had a much better option on the table, and could have used fertility control to manage the deer population rather than a wasteful killing program during the spring birthing season,”  said Stephanie Boyles Griffin, senior director of wildlife response, innovations & services for The HSUS. “This is a terrible lost opportunity, and an unnecessary loss of life, and that’s especially the case in a community that would have embraced this win-win solution.”

In 2011, U.S. Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-District of Columbia, James P. Moran, D-Va., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting 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 non-lethal, one-shot, multi-year immunocontraception vaccine to stabilize and reduce the number of white-tailed deer in the urban park.

Similar immunocontraception programs have been successfully used in multiple trials to reduce deer and wild horse populations, including in public-private partnerships between the National Park Service and The HSUS on Fire Island, N.Y. and Assateague Island, Md. The HSUS has offered to assume 50 percent of the cost of the proposed five-year project, which would save taxpayers approximately $170,000. NPS has declined to move forward with this project.  

Proceeding with a plan to kill the deer is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and is a disservice to residents of the D.C. metro area who enjoy Rock Creek Park specifically because they enjoy watching the deer there. Additionally, lethal programs require areas of the park to be closed for undefined periods of time, interfering with recreational activities. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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