You know attitudes toward deer hunting are changing when northern Virginia suburbanites offer to bring lunch to hunters in the woods. That was the experience of Doug Fisher, quoted in this story from the Washington Post, as he participated in a bow hunt in a Fairfax County park close to Washington, D.C.
As deer continue to encroach on suburbia, anti-hunters turn pro-hunting. All it takes is a car-deer collision, a case of lyme disease or just deer wiping out a garden as the Post story explains. While traditional deer management is effective in rural areas – Maryland has reduced its herd from 300,000 to 225,000 over the past ten years the number of deer in the suburbs has remained stable.
Suburban residents in some towns are begging someone to come shoot their deer.
“I’d also urge you to consider expanding [the deer culling operation in Cabin John Park] south of Democracy Blvd,” one resident wrote in an online comment to Montgomery County, Maryland, the very liberal county where the park is located. “My back yard offers a high elevation with a clear and safe shooting backdrop. If you’d ever like to use my back yard to cull the deer herd, please just give me a call.”
While in many cases those shooters are police officers or specially trained sharpshooters who can cull deer safely in parks near large populations of people, as in Rock Creek and Cabin John parks, in many other cases the change in attitude has opened more land to sport hunting. In Virginia, for instance, Fairfax County officials have increased opportunities for bow and shotgun hunts in the D.C. suburb.
Animal advocates are proposing expensive contraception and sterilization programs but in the meantime, deer numbers will be managed with bullets and broadheads and increasing public support.