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Solving our deer problem the natural way

The Post has published many articles and letters presenting a wide range of views about the burgeoning deer population in our urban parks and surrounding neighborhoods. Most recently, we’ve had: “A deer price to pay” [letters, Dec. 7], “The threat posed by gentle deer” [letters, Dec. 10], and “Limit the number of deer humanely” [letters, Dec. 17]. Pretty much everyone expresses an appreciation for the fact that we have a beautiful bit of nature in our midst while also recognizing that there are far too many deer in a relatively small space. No one has come up with an agreeable, workable solution to this shared problem.

Here are three most commonly mentioned approaches to the problem — and the objections they inevitably generate.

Shoot them.

What, guns and archers in urban parks? To murder Bambi’s mother?

Sterilize them.

Sure, but how, exactly?

Just leave them alone.

Many deer will starve. Many will get hit by cars. Much landscaping will be eaten.

Each method has pros and cons, some large, some small, some rational, some not. But each is inherently unworkable, impossible to implement because of vehement opposition from a bunch of people with a radically different perspective.

But perhaps we can find grounds for agreement, if we all start from the same premise: The root cause of today’s overpopulation is that we long ago killed off or drove away all natural predators of deer.

Accordingly, I propose that the best — and most natural — solution to controlling the deer population would be to reintroduce at least two established wolf packs into Rock Creek Park — one in the northern portion of the park and one in the south. There is clearly sufficient prey for both packs to thrive, thereby thinning the deer herd. Also, since deer are hardly the dumb creatures some imagine them to be, many would flee the area, probably forever.

The downside would be some degree of increased danger to bikers and runners throughout the park. Adrenaline junkies, however, might take up these sports just for the thrill of it; imagine: Running with the wolves! How’s that for a D.C.-style, Type A, recreational outlet? Of course, there might be the occasional disappearance of a dog, cat or child.

Alternatively, though they generally prefer a larger geographic roaming area, we could bring in a small number of mountain lions. Or grizzly bears. Everyone loves grizzly bears, right?

Bottom line: Urbanites can’t have everything, all possible ways. Nature just doesn’t work like that.

What’s it going to be?

 
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