Control of the D.C. deer population continues, shrub-deprived locals rejoice

Last year, the National Park Service was met with resistance when it implemented a long-term plan to reduce the deer population in local D.C. parks. This year, however, the plan has gained popular support as locals have increasingly lost patience with deer eating their hedges, crashing into their vehicles, and invading their restaurants.

“Too many deer,” George Bourzikos, owner of a particularly deer-afflicted restaurant, told the  the Post. “They have to do something about it.”

It is safe to say that the National Park Service is certainly doing something about it. From bringing in SWAT teams (who supposedly can slay 30 deer per night), to allowing recreational hunters into the parks, the agency is working to lower the population of these adorable vegetarians. All that cuteness has surpassed the carrying capacity of the area’s parks, which are now beginning to show the damage. The flora at the Manassas National Battlefield has been so depleted by deer that it is now a struggle to simply keep the area looking historically accurate.

Damage to local ecosystems goes beyond plant life too. According to Nick Bartolomeo, chief of resources management at Rock Creek Park, the real unsung tragedy of the deer overpopulation is the resulting destruction of the habitats of animals like songbirds, squirrels, and salamanders. “That understory is missing right now,” he told the Post.

Locals like Ty Tydings, however, are less concerned with the damage to nearby parks and more fed up with dodging Bambi’s mom while driving home from work. Tydings, who has had numerous run-ins with fluffy-tailed nuisances, succinctly captured the public’s mood in a statement to the Post: “Everyone is pretty sick of deer.”

Despite the general frustration, there are still pockets of dissent where tender-hearted locals object to these planned deaths of bucks and does. These critics, like Rowse and Anne Barton, believe that shooting the deer is inhumane and campaign for the use of deer contraceptives and deer repellant spray instead. Rowse and her supporters brought a case to to the U.S. District Court to stop the deer-killing, but lost. The appeal is still pending.

Photo: Jack Boothby via Flickr

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