Deer Advocates Rally To Stop National Park Service Surprise Slaughter
Rock Creek Park vigils will take place beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday and every evening through Saturday, March 30
Washington, DC, (March 28, 2013) -- Members of In Defense of Animals (IDA) and other concerned citizens and deer advocates will hold an emergency protest rally and vigil Thursday, March 28 beginning at 5 p.m., and every evening through Saturday, March 30. The vigils will alert the public to the onset of the National Park Service's (NPS) deer slaughter.
In a surprise move, the NPS announced late Wednesday afternoon it would begin an unprecedented killing of 120 deer in Rock Creek National Park that night - Wednesday, March 27 - with plans to continue the slaughter each night through Saturday, March 30. This is contrary to the statement in the National Park Service Decision Document that the killing would be done "during the late fall and winter months." Deer advocates believed that if there had been no killing by the end of this winter, there would be no killing until next fall at the earliest. There are approximately 300 deer in Rock Creek Park.
The killing is scheduled to take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Practically tame and pregnant deer will be lured to piles of apples and grain where they will be mowed down with bullets and arrows.
In Defense of Animals (IDA), along with five Washington DC residents, had filed a lawsuit to stop the killing, based on numerous scientific arguments and the availability of a more humane alternative -- contraception. U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins dismissed the lawsuit on March 14. In his opinion, he wrote that it is not the role of the court to decide how the deer are controlled in the park.
Protesters will meet at the "Rock Creek Park" sign at the corner of Military Road, NW, where it intersects with Oregon Ave. and Glover Rd., NW. This is one of the few roads that will still be open to the public during the deer kill. Parking is available off Glover Road, NW.
Rock Creek Park roads closed for the killing are: Beach Drive north of Broad Branch Rd., Ross Drive, Wise Rd., Grant Rd., Sherrill Drive, Joyce Road, Morrow Drive, and Bingham Rd., NW.
To protest this killing, join our vigil and sign our petition (if you haven't already) along with over 3,600 people:
Anja Heister, IDA
From: DJ Schubert [dj@...
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 6:28 AM
Dear Superintendent Tara Morrison:
I would like to obtain information about the results of the deer cull conducted in Rock Creek Park on March 27/28. The information I seek is: 1) the total number of deer killed; 2) any reports from NPS or Wildlife Service officials of wounded deer including deer wounded and then found and killed and deer wounded but never recovered. I request this information on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute, a non-profit animal advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. AWI publishes a quarterly newsletter and its spring edition is within days of being sent to the printer so I would ask that the minimal information requested is provided as soon as possible. As the information requested is limited, concisely defined, and clearly within the public domain, I trust there will be no delay in releasing this information.
Admittedly, I am dismayed that I even need to request this information as I was entirely shocked to learn that the NPS would implement lethal control on March 27. I concede that the court deferred to the NPS in issuing its recent opinion upholding the NPS/Rock Creek Park deer management plan but, frankly, the terms of the plan, had the NPS acted in compliance with those terms, should have delayed the implementation of the deer cull until November 2013. As you must be aware, the deer management plan held that any deer killing would occur primarily at night during the late fall and winter months. While "winter" includes three weeks of March, March 27 is well after the start of Spring and, therefore, the killing should have been delayed until November. Furthermore, given the budget cuts forced upon the NPS (and other agencies) as a result of the sequester, I am stunned that my tax dollars would be spent to kill deer in Rock Creek Park when surely the NPS/Rock Creek Park has more important things to spend my money on. Indeed, while I don't know how the NPS has elected to reduce its budget to satisfy the required cuts, I suspect that any employees subject to forced furloughs would prefer to be paid for another day or two of work than for tax dollars to be spent on killing deer in Rock Creek Park.
Furthermore, I would ask that you reconsider the implementation of a killing plan and suspend the existing plan indefinitely or, at least, until next fall. There is ample reason why this should be done.
First, the NPS/Rock Creek Park should reconsider the use of immunocontraception for the management of its deer. While your scientists may be claiming that immunocontraceptive technologies are not yet available for the control of deer in situations like Rock Creek Park, they are wrong. Existing vaccines -- PZP or Gonacon -- are sufficient to meet or nearly meet all of the criteria that the NPS has developed to determine when or if immunocontraception is available and feasible to use in humanely and non-lethally managing deer (criteria that I understand have been slightly modified since the Rock Creek Park published its Draft EIS on deer management). I would note, of course, that the criteria were controversial to begin with since they were not subject to public review and/or review by external experts (with the exception of any external experts hand selected by the NPS to provide guidance on the development of the Rock Creek Park deer management plan) before being presented as a fait accompli. So much for transparency. The reality is that if the WS agents that sat in tree stands and killed deer last night instead shot deer with darts full of an immunocontraceptive vaccine, within a matter of years the NPS/Rock Creek Park would begin to see a reduction in the deer population given natural and human-caused mortality of deer in and outside the Rock Creek Park area. If you are not familiar with the literature on immunocontraception and/or would like to review the literature yourself to determine for yourself if immunocontraception is a viable option that could be used now for deer management, please let me know as I would be happy to send you a box full of the relevant literature.
I would be the first to concede that immunocontraception will not reduce the deer population as quickly as bullets. However, as Rock Creek Park admits in its March 27 press release announcing the start of the killing program, it took 20 years for deer to become a "problem." If that's the case, I can't fathom why the NPS/Rock Creek Park is unwilling to engage in non-lethal, humane management over the same time period to control the park's deer population without firing a bullet, intentionally killing a deer, potentially causing considerable suffering, and adversely impacting the lives of those who care about the deer who live adjacent to and/or use Rock Creek Park. I suspect your park ecologists/botanists have convinced you that a solution is needed urgently but the reality is, as those experts are well aware, the NPS/Rock Creek Park has the option of using fencing to protect unique floral communities and/or individual or clusters of rare species from deer herbivory while the non-lethal management tools gradually but consistently reduce the deer population.
Moreover, considering that deer management is deemed necessary to address concerns over herbivory impacts including alleged adverse effects to forest regeneration, the NPS/Rock Creek Park should have developed a deer and vegetation management plan as the two issues are inextricably intertwined. Such a plan could have provided guidance on deer and vegetation management (including the management of invasive species that even you have reported is a significant management concern within Rock Creek Park). By doing so all of the factors that may affect park native vegetation (i.e., invasive species, pollution, NPS management actions, herbivory, trampling (by people and animals), etc.) could have been considered in a single management plan. If the NPS/Rock Creek Park wants to be taken seriously in regard to its interest in restoring floral diversity and structure in Rock Creek Park it should consider embarking on such a planning process immediately.
Finally, the decision to initiate lethal control of deer in Rock Creek Park is another example of a trend in the NPS to embrace lethal control of native ungulates. This is a disturbing trend that started in Gettysburg and has escalated to Yellowstone (bison), Catoctin (deer), Valley Forge (deer), Rocky Mountain National Park (elk), and other parks. Unfortunately, this is not the first examples of the NPS ignoring its mandate of allowing natural regulation to dictate wildlife and wildlands management in national parks. If you are not familiar with the litany of NPS missteps since its creation in 1916, let me know and I can provide you with some book titles that you may want to read. Ultimately, its disturbing that the NPS would go down this lethal control route as it should be the agency that rejects such lethal control of native ungulates or uses lethal control only as a last resort. I am not suggesting that the NPS doesn't have the legal authority to control native ungulates as it does under 16 USC 3 but even then the intent was not to use this authority to engage in the wholesale slaughter of native wildlife. Contrary to the NPS claims, it does not have the authority to engage in such massive slaughters under 16 USC 1 (the impairment standard) as that standard, as made clear in the 2006 NPS management policies is intended to be triggered when analyzing the impacts of public use (e.g., snowmobiling. mountain biking, rock climbing) or, secondarily, when the NPS proposes to construct a new visitor center, fence, or similar structure that could impair park resources. The impairment standard was never, ever intended to be used to justify the lethal control of native ungulates regardless of what your attorneys and other advisors may have told you.
Thank for considering this input and for providing the requested information. I submitted extensive comments on the Draft EIS on deer management; comments that sadly were either ignored or dismissed without serious consideration. Despite my frustration with the initiation of the lethal deer control program, I am prepared to work with you and your staff on finding another way, a more humane way, to manage Rock Creek Park deer without bullets or bloodshed. Please let me know if finding a more progressive, more humane method for managing the deer would be of interest to you and your staff.
Animal Welfare Institute