Rally Against the Slaughter of Rock Creek Park's Deer
Update: Unfortunately, the National Park Service begun implementing lethal control of deer in Rock Creek Park as of March 2013.
Many of us who live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area enjoy the beauty of Rock Creek Park. Whether you enjoy watching the park's deer and other wildlife, hiking the park's miles of trails, using its recreational facilities, driving through its forests, or even just escaping to Rock Creek Park to get back to nature, the park provides tremendous benefits to millions of Americans each year.
Unfortunately, Rock Creek Park has become a killing ground for white-tailed deer. The National Park Service (NPS) has ordered the slaughter of the deer starting on the evening of Wednesday, March 27, and continuing through Saturday, March 30. Bait is being used to lure the deer—most of whom have grown up within the protective boundaries of the park and some of whom will be heavily pregnant—to specific sites within the park where they are gunned down by sharpshooters or netted and then the terrified animals are killed by penetrating captive bolt gun, chemical injection, or by bleeding. This alert is coming to you so late in the process (the hunting started last night) because the NPS kept its plan secret in an attempt to avoid a backlash from the humane community.
The NPS claims the slaughter is necessary to protect native vegetation, birds, and other wildlife, yet it has offered virtually no credible evidence that these alleged impacts are occurring in Rock Creek Park, that deer are solely responsible, or that such drastic actions are required to alleviate said impacts. Instead, the NPS claims—citing studies mainly conducted elsewhere and that may have little relevance here—that by substantially reducing the deer population the entire park will benefit.
In addition, the NPS is arguably unauthorized to slaughter these deer this late in March. The NPS indicated to the public and the courts that if they were to kill deer in the park, it would occur in the "fall or winter months." Based on the agency's own decision documents, the public had every reason to believe that there would be no killing until fall 2013, at the earliest, which would give animal advocates time to hone and present alternatives that would meet the government's objectives.
At an absolute minimum, the NPS must try all non-lethal deer management strategies first before even contemplating culling via bullets or capture and euthanasia: According to the NPS’s own scientists, if they start killing the deer before using non-lethal alternatives such as deer fertility control methods, this will make it very difficult to switch to these more humane methods, as it will make the deer wary of humans.
Tonight and the next two nights starting at 5 p.m., there will be a rally held on behalf of the deer (the killing is scheduled to take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.). Concerned animal advocates can meet at the "Rock Creek Park" sign located at the corner of Military Road NW where it intersects with Oregon Avenue and Glover Road NW. Advocates are advised to bring signs indicating their opposition to the killing.
Be advised that the following roads will be closed as of 10 p.m.: Beach Drive north of Broad Branch Road, Ross Drive, Wise Road, Grant Road, Sherrill Drive, Joyce Road, Morrow Drive, and Bingham Road NW.
Concerned citizens should also contact Rock Creek Park Superintendent Tara Morrison at 202-895-6004 (Tara_Morrison@nps.gov) and Chief Ranger Nick Bartolomeo at 202-895-6010 (Nick_Bartolomeo@nps.gov)to express their opposition to the slaughter of the Rock Creek Park deer.
This will be the first time in 120 years—since Rock Creek Park was established—that the NPS will intentionally kill any of the native wildlife. Please share this AWI eAlert with family, friends and coworkers. As always, thank you for your help; your action does make a difference!