There’s a nonviolent way to control the deer population

December 4, 2013

The Dec. 1 front-page article “As deer encroach on suburbs, views on kills shift” made the point that people are getting tired of problems with deer. But this does not mean that sharpshooting is an effective way to deal with these problems. Both Maryland and Virginia have been killing deer for years — including in suburban areas. Yet the problem of deer overcrowding seems to be getting worse. Isn’t it time to try something else?

Contraception has worked to reduce deer populations in Fire Island, N.Y., Fripp Island, S.C., and at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg. It has reduced populations of horses on Assateague Island, bison in California and elephants in Africa. Other communities, such as Bald Head, N.C., and Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., have recently turned to this nonviolent method.

The nation’s capital should be leading the trend away from violence, not promoting it as the universal solution to wildlife problems.

In the meantime, the National Park Service could promote solutions to human-deer conflicts such as vehicle collisions.

Anne Barton, Washington

The writer is a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to stop the National Park Service from killing deer in Rock Creek Park.

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