Marion Barry apologizes for insult to National Park Service

Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST - D.C. Councilman Marion Barry

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D.C. Council member Marion Barry is apologizing after someone with access to his Twitter account used a vulgar expression in reference to the National Park Service’s ongoing deer hunt in Rock Creek Park.

After years of study and controversy, the National Park Service began a three day hunt on Wednesday night designed to dramatically cull the herd.

The Park Service estimates there are 70 deer per square mile in the park, and hopes sharp shooters can reduce the herd to 15 to 20 per square mile. The agency argues the hunt is needed to protect the park’s vegetation; animal rights activists are angry that non-lethal methods are not being used to control the herd.

In a series of statements sent from his Twitter account Thursday morning, Barry (D-Ward 8) lashed out against the hunt.

“The NPS will be sharp shooting deer in Rock Creek Park. So wrong,” Barry wrote, using the hashtag #dontkillbambi “Can they be relocated? I mean the NPS. The deer can stay. “

A few minutes later, Barry tweeted he was asking the Washington Humane Society to work with the Park Service to stop the hunt in favor “a relocation” strategy.

The National Park Service, which last year finalized its deer management plan for the park, has already ruled out relocation as impractical, but continues to explore the use of birth control once the herd is thinned.

Another tweet then referred to the Park Service as “MoFo,” widely considered a condensed version of an expletive. The tweet then compared the Park Service to a Fingerhut catalogue that Barry says is selling guns in Ward 8:

“NPS 4 plans to shoot deer in RockCk & FH 4 peddling guns in SE.Honor ALL LIFE in DC,” a tweet said.

When asked about his tweets Thursday, Barry said he did not personally send them.

Barry said someone who he had authorized to send tweets from his account issued the messages in his name. Barry declined to identify the person, but said he spoke with the tweeter Thursday and told the person the remark was inappropriate.

“The thrust of it was right, the thing that went too far was the MoFo,” Barry said. “I have a lot of tweets, some I send out personally and some I send out by staff.”

Still, Barry said he stands by his broader message opposing the deer hunt.

“I want to sit down with the Park Service and have a plan,” Barry said. “There has to be a better way to manage the deer population.

Carol Johnson, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said the agency stands by its decision.

“The National Park Service has taken this decision very seriously and look at the scientific evidence how to handle this,” Johnson said. “We take pride in protecting natural resources. It’s a difficult decision, but one that has to be made not only to protect the forest but the deer herd itself.”

 
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