Washington, D.C. – Rock Creek Park, situated in the center of an urban forest, provides a much needed respite from the hectic pace of living and working in the nation's capital and surrounding communities. Millions of Americans each year enjoy watching the park's deer and other wildlife, hiking the park's miles of trails, and using its many recreational facilities.
But the park is now a killing ground for white-tailed deer. The National Park Service (NPS) has ordered their slaughter, which started on the evening of Wednesday, March 27, and will continue 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 are heavily pregnant—to specific sites within the park, where they are being gunned down by sharpshooters or netted and then the terrified animals are killed by penetrating captive bolt gun, chemical injection, or by bleeding. The NPS kept its plan secret in an attempt to avoid a backlash from the humane community.
The NPS is arguably unauthorized to slaughter these deer this late in March. The agency indicated to the public 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 believed that there would be no killing until fall of 2013 at the earliest, which would give animal advocates time to hone and present alternatives to meet the government’s objectives.
The NPS claims the slaughter is necessary to protect native vegetation, birds, and other wildlife yet it has offered very little 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.
The NPS has also not tried non-lethal deer management strategies such as deer fertility control methods first before culling with bullets or capture and euthanasia. And according to the Park Service’s own scientists, if they start killing the deer before using non-lethal alternatives, this will make it very difficult to switch to these methods, as the deer will become 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.
Protestors should be mindful of the fact that the following road closures will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. from March 27 through 30, when sharpshooting is underway:
- Beach Drive north of Broad Branch Road
- Ross Drive
- Wise Road
- Grant Road
- Sherrill Drive
- Joyce Road
- Morrow Drive
- 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.
D.J. Schubert, Animal Welfare Institute, (609) 601-2875
Carol Grunewald, Independent Rally Organizer, (202) 966-7277