Earlier this year, the National Park Service announced their plan to reduce the white-tailed deer population of Valley Forge National Park. On October 4, the Service announced that the “lethal reduction phase” was set to begin this November and would take place over the next 4 years. Overall, by 2014, the Service plans to eliminate 80% of the Park’s deer population, reducing the herd from over a 1000 to less than 200. After 2014 the Park Service plans to maintain the herd’s shrunken population with the use of birth control. The reason for this cull? According to the Park Service, the deer population, overgrown as it is, is detrimental to the park’s flora and fauna- consuming more plant life than can be re-grown, and destroying habitat for the park’s other wildlife. Animal advocacy groups Friends of Animals and CARE opposed the park’s plan to cull deer via sharpshooters, instead advocating the use of natural predators, such as coyotes to help reduce the population. The Park Service’s response? The coyotes simply couldn’t kill the deer fast enough for the park’s needs.
Claiming, in part, that the Park Service did not sufficiently consider the alternative of natural predators, Friends of Animals and CARE filed suit against the Park Service. However, in late October, a federal judge ruled that the Park could proceed with its plan to cull the deer population. Currently, the groups have an appeal pending and filed for an emergency injunction on November 12th.
According to news sources, however, the hunt has already begun. Just another casualty the human versus wildlife war, it seems.
Filed under: animal ethics, animal law, animal welfare, hunting | Tagged: animal advocacy, animal ethics, animal law, animal welfare, CARE, deer cull, environmental ethics, environmental law, Friends of Animals, hunting, National Park Service, Valley Forge National Park, white-tailed deer |