January 2, 2014
National Park Service Criticized for Killing Deer at Rock Creek Park
Agency failed to take advantage of humane deer population control through fertility methods
The National Park Service will resume using sharpshooters to cull deer at Rock Creek Park. The NPS has not released specific details about the timeline – only that sharpshooters will kill deer at night through the end of March, and that drivers may encounter temporary road closures during that time. The Park’s deer management plan calls for killing deer to reduce populations over the next three years.
Stephanie Boyles Griffin, senior director of Wildlife Response, Innovations and Services for The Humane Society of the United States said: “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. 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 humane solution.”
Congressman Jim Moran, D-Va., said: “I am disappointed that the National Park Service continues to insist on the use of firearms to reduce the deer population in Rock Creek Park. While the environmental damage caused by deer overpopulation must be addressed, non-lethal options exist that would also reduce the population, facilitate long-term population stability, and pose less danger to the general public. I encourage NPS to work with interested parties to implement an effective, non-lethal management plan.”
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, NY and Assateague Island, MD. The HSUS has offered humane alternatives to NPS and is ready and willing to work with them on implementation.
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