Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks

What are the odds that coyotes can control Valley Forge National Historical Park's deer populations? Pennsylvania Game Commission photo.

As urban sprawl squeezes in tighter and tighter around some national parks, it can turn some parks into wildlife sanctuaries that create their own problems. At Valley Forge National Historical Park, efforts to control a booming population of white-tailed deer have spurred a lawsuit from a group that believes a prey-predator relationship should be allowed to play out. But how realistic is that?

No longer the sleepy, bucolic landscape that existed when General George Washington and his troops wintered here in eastern Pennsylvania in 1777-78, Valley Forge today is surrounded by development, not the least of which is the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest malls in the country in terms of commercial space.

With its 3,500 acres, many lush and green with vegetation, the park has become a magnet for white-tailed deer, which officials say are overrunning the vegetation.

The issue of too many deer did not arise overnight. While in 1983 there were an estimated 165-185 deer at Valley Forge, according to park research, by 2000 the herd had grown large enough that Congress directed the National Park Service to begin assessing the problem. Three years ago the park launched efforts to develop a deer-management plan, an effort that recently led the park officials to decide to employ sharpshooters and birth controls to cull and contain the herd, which peaked at 1,647 animals in 2008 before dipping to 1,277 this year, at 165-185 animals, according to Kristina Heister, the park's natural resource manager.

"We've said many times that this park is really a refuge in the middle of suburban Philadelphia," she said Friday afternoon during a phone conversation. "And as such it becomes even more important that the habitat that we have here is in good condition. ... We have to strike that balance. We know that we can't achieve that with the number of deer that we have today."

The culling decision hinged in part on over-browsing of vegetation in the park and associated concerns for the park's overall habitat and impacts to other animals. And while it has not yet been detected in the park, the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease, a contagious neurological disease, reaching Valley Forge also contributed to the decision. Though not directly tied to the park's decision-making, deer-vehicle collisions -- of which there are nearly 90 every year within the park's borders -- also are a concern.

Members of the surrounding community also have voiced concerns over deer devouring their gardens, the possible spread of Lyme Disease, and deer droppings. But they also have mentioned how nice it is to have such highly visible wildlife. In 2007, a study performed for the park by Cornell University researchers touched on the issue of urbanization of the area and its impact on wildlife.

Anthropogenic factors such as human population growth and land development often were described as the ultimate source of deer issues. Many interviewees perceived human-deer interactions as a symptom of broader ecological disruption (e.g. habitat loss, fragmentation) that concentrated deer in undesirable locations:

“Development has created the problem, we, mankind has (sic) developed the problem. The deer are doing their best to survive, they’re coming back at us and eating our shrubbery. What are they supposed to do, lay down and die?”

“We’re choking out the whole landscape by building up developments. There’s nowhere for them to go.”

“I usually see herds. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. A couple of new developments were built, that’s when I noticed the difference. I attribute it to human encroachment. The zoning around here is out of control. There’s too much development bordering the park.”

While park managers believe culling and using birth control are the best approaches to managing the deer, two animal advocacy groups filed a lawsuit this week to stop that plan. In their filing, the Friends of Animals and Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Environment argued that the Park Service's approach violates the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as the National Park Service Organic Act, and even the Valley Forge National Historical Park's enabling legislation.

“Decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act cannot be based simply on seizing upon the apparently easiest answer to a perceived problem,” said Lee Hall, legal director for Friends of Animals. “Killing deer is not the answer to the decline of plant life in a sprawling, concrete-covered suburb.”

Allison Memmo Geiger, president of CARE, added that she didn't know what was worse, “shooting deer or compromising their social and reproductive interactions by imposing birth control on them.”

And Michael Harris, a law professor at the University of Denver's Environmental Law Clinic that filed the lawsuit, said the decision runs counter to the National Park Service's preservation mission.

“For the National Park Service to enter Valley Forge National Historical Park in the cover of winter to slay white-tailed deer is not only an appalling twist on the park’s history, it is another sign that the Service has abandoned its century-old mission to strive for parks in which conservation of nature is paramount,” he said in a release.

What those groups would like to see, according to Ms. Hall, is for the park to allow coyotes to control the deer population.

"The coyotes are making a comeback in the park. It seems to us that the biologist who put the papers together, who put the proposal together, would want to cultivate more respect for the coyotes," Ms. Hall told the Traveler on Friday. "You might know that the Pennsylvania Game Commission basically treats them as vermin ... I think that just makes people feel that there is something wrong with them, they are dangerous. They do live in the park, and they do have the capability of being able predators, particularly against the sick and the young deer."

In arriving at their preferred solution, Valley Forge officials did in fact consider using predators to control the deer numbers, but discarded it as unrealistic, said Ms. Heister, who added that past research has demonstrated that predators are not capable of controlling suburban deer populations.

"There is no expectation that a coyote population would be capable of regulating deer populations at this level," she said Friday. "We'd have a lot of fat, happy coyotes, but we'd probably have a similar number of deer."

While Ms. Hall was unfamiliar with a recent incident in a Canadian national park in which coyotes were said to have fatally mauled a young woman, she didn't think a coyote population in Valley Forge would pose a serious threat to visitors.

"They’re in our area. I think you have to be careful with your animals, if you have cats and dogs you have to be careful," she said. "But they’re indigenous to this area, and they belong here.”

Ms. Hall also said Valley Forge's deer population has stabilized -- a contention Ms. Heister disputed -- and that the animals are really not a problem, "other than eating people’s flowers in the area."

"I jog and hike in there and I don’t see them as a problem," she said.

Some problems created by the deer might not be obvious to all observers, though. According to Ms. Heister, the heavy foraging by deer impact ground- and shrub-nesting bird species such as black-and-white warblers and thrushes, which, she said, are in decline. And when oaks lose their acorns in fall, voracious deer eat them with relish, depriving squirrels and other ground foragers, she said.

The park is suffering "not only the indirect effects of complete removal of habitat, but direct competition for resources," said Ms. Heister. "The butterfly can't have the flower if the deer ate it already, and the squirrel can't have the acorn if the deer ate it already."

Comments

As someone that lives in an area that is over run with deer, I can understand the problems at the various parks. It's bad enough here that people joke about the need for a year round open season with hand guns. Perhaps those groups so intent on letting nature manage this problem would support the introduction of a few of Yellowstone's wolf population. Coyotes are very efficient creatures but to expect them to manage a deer problem is a bit out of their expertise. Perhaps CARE members could take a few of them home and pen them up in the backyard. The novelty would soon wear off.

I agree with what Lee Hall re predators. Coyotes are a rare threat to humans and should be encouraged to stay where they are. If people are so concerned with the deer population, which isn't as large as Dick says, then why limit their predators? It seems like humans have decided to take on the predator role, and wasting our tax dollars in the process. Allowing the predators to do their job is absolutely - free.

Plants are not the real issue behind the NPS' action because a similar action will be taking place in D.C.'s Rock Creek Park. It's no coincidence that both proposals were backed by residents who complained about their plants - not exactly a valid reason to shoot deer, is it?

We need to take in account that the deer's fertility is solely based on a variety of environmental factors. A female is unable to trigger ovulation when there is little food and water available. So, if it's true that vegetation is an issue, then one cannot say there is an influx in the deer population. Lack of food = annovulation = less offspring.

I don't now where you're from Anai, but around here we have more deer than we can use. Our state Wildlife and Parks Dept. estimates that there are more deer in the state now than any time in the state's recorded history. Planting of shelter belts and returning cultivated land to prairie grass have helped to increase their number. Lots of cover, lots to eat and no real predators. Just about anything the state wants to do to limit their numbers is fine. Hunting does is legal but hunters don't care much about them because they make pretty poor trophys.

I travel through thos area frequently to visit my son in Phoenixville and I can tell you for a fact, there is a huge deer problem. The road through the park is main thoroughfare and driving there at night is an accident waiting to happen. I have seen several hundred deer in the fields adjacent to the road and they just meander on the road. If you drive this road it is not a matter of if you hit one but when will you hit one.

I would suggest using hunters to cull the herd as is done in many high population areas. They don't need professional "sharp shooters" they just need hunters who can pass a proficiency test and open a lottery hunt. There are some big deer in that herd and hunters would love the opportunity to cull deer from that herde.

Why are coyotes or wolves eating baby deer more humane than birth control? These "naturalists" are nuts. See human babies and children who suffer from lyme disease and cannot play in their own backyards due to repeated bouts of lyme infection with God knows what long range consequences as the lyme bacteria hibernates and re-emerges like its cousin, syphillis. And try driving at night with deer jumping in front of your car. Living in Chester County (PA) use to be a natural wonderland blessing. It is simply dangerous now. I would move to a townhouse in the city in a minute if not for my stubborn husband.

The folks complaining about their flower beds might be the voice that gets heard by the politicians, but the real issue re plants is what's going on in the natural areas overpopulated by deer. Species of wildflowers are being extirpated and forest regeneration is greatly impacted if not completely halted. There are plenty of currently robust oak forests in Michigan that won't be forests at all in a couple generations because of deer. There simply are no trees under 40 or 50 years old. Forest regeneration studies put the upper limit of deer population that still allows proper regeneration at around 10 or 15 per square mile. That's a problem, because that level means invisible deer. The public likes to see deer and quite mistakenly equate deer with healthy ecosystems. The 40 per square mile we have in some counties around here are beloved by both the animal activists (Deer are pretty!) and the hunters (Take your pick of the trophies!). So, who's on the side of sound ecology other than some ill-represented conservation groups? So far the only player with any clout is the insurance industry. Turns out they don't like paying thousands of claims every year for deer-vehicle impacts.

The fight goes on, but convincing those with the power to do something about it that we need far fewer deer is an uphill climb.

These "Naturalists" aren't concerned about humane treatment - that is an incorrect assumption you are making. These "naturalists" simply want the deer to experience life in a natural way, on their own terms. Would a deer rather be given birth control or be killed by a coyote? I can't say for sure, but I will guarantee you that they'd prefer to be left alone - and that is what we "Naturalists" want to happen.

While driving, just stick to a 25 mph speed limit and you'll be fine. The big problem here is that we humans continue to take and take and take, and the deer and other animals have no place else to go - and THAT is nuts. When we start controlling ourselves will be the day that we start seeing a more natural balance restored to our world.

Ms. Heister says the forest is being destroyed - what forest? It hasn't been a forest since before Washington stayed there. The truth is that it was farm land. The "real issue" is because the people continue to destroy the forests to make room for the latest shopping mall, housing development, or roadways. Deer are being forced to move into smaller tracts of forest which makes it appear that they are overpopulated when they previously were spread out in much larger areas.

If you look at the Valley Forge deer and saw there is a deer overpopulation - then you're missing the big problem. Once politicians realize the problem and take actions to encourage people to drastically slow down their own growth and development, then we'll start seeing the harmony established.

Hunting will never solve the problem. You can hunt and hunt and as long as the habitat is there, and predator-free, the deer will win over. You have to look at long term solutions, which will be a challenge in an already established area. Make sure you do not have paletable plant species along roads and highways, and in residential yards. By all means, let the coyotes do what they can to reduce fawn survivabilty. Use birth-control when necessary. Allow forests to mature. Investigate controlled burns for short term relief. Fence off small portions of Park to compare rejuvination efforts.

Denise - "Why are coyotes or wolves eating baby deer more humane than birth control?" Coyotes are vital to sustaining an ecological environment. Unfortunately, they are hunted down year-round and this has shifted the natural order.

Shooting animals with the PZP vaccine is not a great alternative, where you consider that it costs $25.00+ per shot, the sharp-shooters need to get paid - it all costs the tax payers money that can be better spent elsewhere. The life, death and control of these deer - and all free-living animals - should not be dominated by humans - it is the predator's job, not ours.

Think about the numbers - nearly 80 percent of an estimated 1,023, deer will be killed. As the deer raise their young, more are to be shot, so essentially park officials intend to kill some 1,300 deer over the next four years. We say that the deer are in our way, but the reality is - we are in their way. We have built around them and cornered them in smaller and smaller liveable areas. We are the ones encroaching on their land - they were there before us and we need to respect that.

To the commenter, "Dick": You say to "Anai", "...we have a lot more deer around here than we can use". There is so much inherently wrong with that statement. The deer were here BEFORE we were, and they are simply NOT here for our "USE", 'period. The high numbers of deer and their being close to and in the roadways does not mean that THEY are in OUR way- 'how about considering the fact that WE are in THEIRS? We are the ones that built and developed on THEIR land, and forced them closer and closer into "our territories", by destroying the areas of protected wild land and forest where they once freely roamed, far from busy roads, concrete, and entitled, cantankerous neighbors who whine about ornamental plants being nibbled on. The famously-gifted Alice Walker once wrote, "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." How incredibly honest...and how profoundly TRUE!

Also, just as an FYI, a lot is being said about tax payer dollars: as it stands, tax payer dollars are planned to be used to fund the sharp shooters, at an OUTRAGEOUS amount. As a federal tax payer and resident of a city where deer and elk are allowed and encouraged to roam freely and naturally (and ARE controlled by natural predators, and do limit their own numbers, which is what would happen in this case, if the VF officials would act responsibly and abandon their violent and ridiculous plan) I do NOT want my federal tax dollars spent on a plan that endangers the lives of people, nor animals. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to deduct that if you live in an area that is highly-populated with wildlife (for example, Evergreen, CO, which is where I live) you simply move there knowing that the animals were there first, that adaptations are expected to be made (on YOUR part) so that everyone may live in harmony. You do simple, logical, EASY things, like driving more SLOWLY and with your brights on in the areas where the deer are thick (and where roadways are within their grazing areas).

Evergreen has crosswalks and signs with blinking lights which sense movement on the sides of the roads, specifically created to address the safety-needs that accompany this scenario of the elk and deer freely roaming in and out of the neighborhoods, businesses, forests, and yes, even at least 5 (that I can think of off the top of my head) large, activity-filled, state parks. The deer and elk are negotiated around by mountain bikers, horseback riders, family picnic'ers, dog walkers...and even during mating season, when a bull elk attacked a woman for getting too close to try to snap a picture- SHE, the "human", was scolded and brought up on a misdemeanor charge for tampering with and endangering wildlife (she went to the hospital with minor injuries). So there ARE communities who understand that we do not "rule over", nor own, nor have any pre-assigned authority over these animals...and that to peacefully co-exist is the most intelligent, mutually beneficial, and most joyful way to live- and it works, it works VERY effectively, I might add!

Forest regeneration studies reflect a successful system (it's been studied in extreme detail in this region) wildflowers are more abundant this year than they ever have been in any past season- they are everywhere, and because most of Evergreen is privately-owned land, the deer, elk, fox, bear, and other wildlife are protected, and the "NO HUNTING ALLOWED ON PRIVATE LAND" signs are ALMOST as ubiquitous as the " 'Got Elk ?" bumper stickers that almost every vehicle seems to proudly display. These animals are literally respected to the extent that if a family of elk decides to cross a busy road at rush hour, it soon becoms one of the obstacles that makes the 5 o'clock news, and makes the traffic commute more lengthy- because EVERY car slows to a complete stop and waits for the sometimes between 15-50 members of a herd to cross, allowing them to take their sweet time in doing so.

'Two quotes to ponder as you make up your mind regarding this lawsuit, and whether or not it is "worth it" to do whatever it takes to protect these innocent animals:

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." ~Thomas A. Edison

"The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: We should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position." ~Christine Stevens

These deer are guilty of nothing...it is an honor to share this planet with them, and SHARE is the operative word in that statement. If we continue to approach our dilemmas like the one in VF Park with bloodshed and the decimation of at least 80% of their herd, we are not only acting like barbarians in lazily reaching for the bullets when more peaceful and less-expensive alternatives are available (and realistic)... but we are also setting an example for our children as to how to take the most aggressive, self-centered, careless, violent, and IRREVERSIBLE "approach" possible. 'Shame on anyone and everyone in support of such a "plan", when perfectly viable, peaceful, less-expensive, and relatively easy alternatives are readily available. Sometimes, once a bully has shown us his fists, he doesn't want to back down, at any cost, even if there's no longer a reason to fight. The VF officials want to opt for expense, violence and bloodshed over peaceful, less expensive, and MUCH more logical solutions. Thank God someone had enough courage, intelligence, correct research/studies, motivation, and just plain respect, for both animals AND people, to bring about this suit.

There are some interesting perspectives in this thread. I'm originally from the area and when I go home, the effects of an increasing deer herd are quite obvious. There is very little understory and a distinct browse line in the local forest patches. The notion that the local coyote population is going to control the herd size is misguided. As far as I know, there isn't a sizable coyote population in the area and PA coyotes are not typically big enough to bring down deer. If proactive measures are not taken to reduce the herd size, it will decline, in potentially a massive and ugly die-off.

Here are some interesting facts, or key points in the background of all this:

1. The National Park Service was pushed into this deer reduction thing by the local Congressman.

2. The park service had no basis for eliminating deer, because there was no described park value, based in research or planning, that was at risk because of the deer. But the Congressman said local people complained about potentially hitting deer while driving, and deer eating people's gardens.

3. NPS also raised concerns that the public who was complaining were not necessarily the whole public. NPS told the congressman that he could expect, if the NPS was pushed to kill deer, a huge outcry among people who currently were not included in the discussion.

The park service also raised the point that the population of deer was high throughout the suburban area, and would continue high whether or not deer were all killed off in this very small park.

The park service pointed out that no one was seeking deer hunting on all the deer habitat in the residential areas all around the park.

The park service pointed out that the park would be better off, as a park, if the state road through the park were closed to commuter traffic anyway, and the congressman agreed to look into that, but still wanted a deer hunt, because of local pressure. The congressman produced deer experts who claimed that, even if deer populations outside the park were high, and park populations reduced or eliminated, the large populations of deer WOULD NOT move into this tiny national park. . . . .

NPS was informed that deer birth control would not be sufficiently effective, and that actually reestablishing the original predator-prey relationship was not what the congressman wanted. He wanted the park service to say they were recapitulating historical or 'natural' deer population levels, as a means to allow the NPS to kill the deer unnaturally.

4. But the congressman, with threatened legislative language and squeezing other parts of the park budget, cornered the park service into agreeing to pursue STUDIES. The idea from the congressman was to established some element of the landscape, that was being threatened by deer, as a park-value. Then, by demonstrating the newly demonstrated park value was being compromised by deer, the NPS could eliminate the deer.

5. The congressman was tossed out by his constituents in the next election.

6. Once started, just as if this was serious 'science' or 'resource management," the NPS continued to work on this thing, just as if it was a real issue of concern to the National Park System.

7. The 'other' public, waking up to the special-interest pressure, are horrified that the NPS is preparing to shoot deer, just as the NPS told the congressman would happen once this became real.

I used to feel the way many seem to until I learned deer biology. There are actually more deer (millions more) now than there were historically. Yes, it is our fault. Deer are made for open areas and by converting all the forests into farm we created prime food sources and the populations exploded. Added to that we took away the predators. Lots of food + no control = lots and lots of deer. I wish we could bring back predators. I for one would love to see wolves and mountain lions running around, but in the heavily populated east that just isn't possible. So we do need some sort of control because the deer are eating everything and starving in the winters. I would rather see a deer shot and the meat donated than watch it slowly starve to death. And it's rare for a coyote to take down a full-grown deer, the hunt small game, so I do not see them as a good means of control.

Ranger Holly

So, Ranger Holly -- assuming all you say IS true: would even killing all the deer in Valley Forge National Historical Park make any difference at all in the situation you describe?

Isn't the park just being used so local authorities can pretend they are helping, and by blaming the federal government for the problem? If they were serious about deer population reductions, why aren't they doing something about it outside the park?

Or do you think the park makes up all or most of the deer habitat in eastern Pennsylvania?

d-2, the NPS is responsible for managing VFNP, and is not responsible for managing the rest of suburban Philly nor the rest of eastern PA.

This entire conversation is so perfectly typifies many we read here.


The only point is the deer hunting will not significantly reduce the regional deer population, and therefore is an empty gesture if the real policy objective is dealing with road hazards or impacts on gardens.

If it is true that the NPS was only pushed to think up a park purpose for the deer reduction in order to deal with gardens and fear of accidents, then the park-policy justification is a joke. RodF, don't you ever get to the point where pious double-talk is unacceptable? The real public safety issue is the state road through the park, which has been allowed to become a commuter road. So, should the park be managed to permit the ever-increasing expansion of thru-traffic in the park?

Personally, I am all for healthy, and natural, wildlife populatons in parks. Ideally, this would be accomplished by an effective and imaginative reintroduction of predators. If this (really) is not possible, then I believe hunting by park agents is often the only real and effective method. But in Valley Forge hunting deer will have next to no impact on the reason visitors come to this park, and no impact at all on what is seen as 'the deer problem' by surbanites in eastern Pennsylvania.

It is only the illusion of action by local elected officials. Why pretend it is science, or the responsibilities of park management?

If you are a naturalist, you would truely know the impact that an overpopulation of deer has on the habitat. Other animals, both birds and mammals, have suffered, and will continue to suffer because of the current population of deer in Valley Forge. A true naturalist would understand that, and would understand the management decisions for the good of the whole ecosystem, not just worry about one aspect of the ecosystem. I would rather see the deer humanely shot and die a quick death, than to suffer a very slow and painful death from a disease or a dvc.

For those of you that think deer populations are hurt when areas are developed, you are wrong. Deer are an 'edge' species. They don't prefer large un-broken tracts of land, because those areas don't produce large amounts of food. Edge areas receive more sunlight, often grow more dense, with species of plants that provide berries, leaf buds, and other soft mast, aka browse. So when areas get developed, it increases the amount of edge, creating more food. Deer are more likely to use these areas because they are protected from any and all hunting pressure. So no hunting, more food, more reproduction and more deer surviving the winter to reproduce next year. After a few short years, the population starts growing and doubling itself every year. Then they pass the carrying capacity of the habitat, this is when the damage to the forest starts to really show. A few years later, no new trees growing from seed (aka regeneration), ferns start taking over putting chemicals in the soil to discourage further growth by deciduous trees. In the meantime, forest dwelling birds that use the shrub layer and midstory start disappearing. Small mammal populations decline because the deer eat all hard mast rather quickly. Pretty soon, all you are left with is a huge population of deer, and little if any other wildlife.

Racheal Carson wrote a book called "Silent Spring". How many of you are familiar with this book? Bascially, she says that chemical insecticides would eventually reduce bird populations to a point were they would be a "silent spring". She was close to being correct except that we prevented the continued use of chemicals that were detrimental to the birds. Now we face another potential cause of this "silent spring", the deer. And now we someone tries to manage to prevent it again, all the "armchair naturalists", Felix Sulton praising deer lovers, don't want the deer killed because the deer are "nature"!!! Well, deer are part of nature, and should continue to be part of nature. However, nature also includes other mammals, numerous song birds, all of which are negatively affected by the overpopulation of deer.

I personally applaud the efforts of the NPS to try and remedy the problem of too many deer in VFNMP. Keep up the good work!!

Barbara,

Those solutions and actions might work in Evergreen, CO. But VF is not in Evergreen, CO, it is in south eastern PA. There are probably more deer in VF than are in Evergreen CO. What is the density of deer in Evergreen, CO? The deer population in SE PA has been documented in several areas at over 140 deer/square mile, or 1 deer for every 4.5 acres. The current number of deer in VF, using the data in the article, is 233 deer/square mile. Ecologically speaking, Evergreen, CO and VF and two very different and distinct ecosytems and biomes.

Nature will eventually take control of the situation in VF if allowed, but that will take a long time. Nature will cause the deer starve, before and after birth. Nature would introduce a disease to assist in controlling the deer, and they will die a slow, painful death. Coyotes will take and eat deer (young, sick, or injured), but most likely not enough to have a large impact. While VF is waiting for nature to take over, the rest of the nature in the park will continue to suffer, humans will continue to hit them, humans will continue to contract lyme disease and suffer.

"Thank God someone had enough courage, intelligence, correct research/studies, motivation, and just plain respect, for both animals AND people, to bring about this suit."

I pose this question to you, what is "correct" research/studies??? From what I have been taught, practiced, and read, pertaining to scientific research, there is no such thing as research or studies being "correct".. Research or studies present their findings on a particular question posed, whether the findings support or fail to support the original question. I'm sure what you meant is that the people that brought this suit about, will only use, quote, or point to research/studies that support their mis-guided thoughts about what should be done in VF, and ignore the research that was conducted directly in VF. They will use, quote, and base their opinion on science that was conducted 20 years ago in some part of the country that has no bearing on what is going on in VF.

So let me ask you this, killing is OK as long as nature is doing it, the coyotes, the mountain lions, the bears, etc??

"The famously-gifted Alice Walker once wrote, "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." How incredibly honest...and how profoundly TRUE!". I say this is partly right. They were not made for humans, as much as we were not made for them.

According to your logic, VF has to just deal with the situation and do nothing about! I say that is irresponsible, for the deer and for all other beings in nature, including us humans, the small mammals, the birds, and the plants.

I agree with what was said in the last few posts and would like to add something. Barbara, in your last post you commented about forest regeneration studies then commented about the wildflowers being abundant. Well, forest regeneration does not really have anything to do with wildflowers. Most forest regeneration studies look at the number/size/abundance of replacement stock growing to replace the overstory. Wildflowers, present or absent have nothing really to do with forest regeneration other that in there are plentiful wildflowers, there is an alternative food source for deer other than newly sprouted saplings.

I would challenge you to look in VF for wildflowers throughout the year, you might find some as they initially grow, but are quickly consumed by the over abundant deer.

One public property not far from VF did document species of wildflowers growing again on the property after 10+ years of not growing, only after removing a large number of deer from the ecosystem.

Well said!

People have just been assuming that our conflict with the deer is the result of commercial development of more and more land, but really the deer population has burgeoned incredibly during the past fifty years. Our forests are paying the price, and there is no way that people will put up with having packs of wolves roaming around near neighborhoods. Deer population levels have to be artificially contained in and around places where people live and predators (like wolves, not mere coyotes) are not welcome.

I live in Chesterbrook, a neighborhood right next to VF park. I know atleast 20 neighbors that have been diagnosed with lime disease - it's a huge concern of mine. The way I see it is this... if the food chain had its way, we, as humans, would hunt the deer for food if we couldn't drive to our local store to purchase meat. Since we're not hunting the deer for meat, the population needs to be controlled in another way. There is a huge problem here and it needs a solution.