Letter to the Editor

How to deal with those darned deer

George Wolske’s tongue-in-cheek Dec. 22 Local Opinions commentary, “Solving our deer problem the natural way,” suggested that we bring wolves or cougars back to the Washington region. But a close relative of the wolf — the eastern coyote — is already on the job.

Coyotes in the east have some native wolf in their DNA. While those in the mid-Atlantic have fewer such genes than the ones in the Northeast, these animals still descend from the original eastern (not gray) wolf that lived in this region historically.

People should welcome the presence of coyotes, which can prey heavily on fawns in spring. It would likely take them time to help reduce deer numbers, but they have one advantage over wolves and cougars: They are better at living near people.

Appreciate wild neighbors, such as eastern coyotes, that are already here. They can do their ecological service in a park near you — and they can do it for free. And it is remarkably easy to coexist with these animals, simply by keeping cats inside and leashing dogs when they are outside.

Jonathan Way, Barnstable, Mass.

George Wolske listed three ways we can approach our problem with deer: Shoot them, sterilize them and leave them alone. I would like to add a fourth solution: Herd them together and preach to them about abstinence. We see how well that works on teenagers.

Philip Schachter, Montgomery Village

Fairfax City is going to tranquilize “all the female deer” in the city, transport them to a clinic, sterilize them and release them back into the city [“Fairfax City plans to surgically sterilize deer,” Metro, Dec. 21]? This is crazy.

Wouldn’t a capture-and-release program, letting the deer go in the western part of Virginia, perhaps in a national park, be less expensive and more humane?

Wayne Blincoe, Annandale

I was very happy to read about Fairfax City’s plan to sterilize the female deer in their jurisdiction. Development and ever-increasing human density have forced deer into smaller areas of land. We have an ethical responsibility to find humane solutions to human-animal conflict.

Someday we will look back and realize our violent and punitive treatment of animals was unnecessary, and we will wonder why we thought our behavior was justified.

Jennie Gosche, Kensington

 
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