Share This Page

Suit: Culling deer in park would cause 'killing field'

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 8:22 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Animal-rights activists filed a lawsuit on Thursday to try stopping a plan to cull deer in a Washington park, saying it would create a “killing field” in the heart of the U.S. capital.

The deer population in Rock Creek Park has soared in recent years, creating a threat to plant life. The National Park Service said in May that it would begin a program to trim numbers to 15 to 20 per square mile, from 67 recorded in a 2009 census.

Residents and activists filed suit in a U.S. District Court charging that the planned cull in the 12-mile-long park would create a “killing field” in the heart of Washington.

The National Park Service plans to use sharpshooters or reproductive controls to cut deer numbers. Shooting would be carried out mostly at night in the winter and autumn. Venison would be donated to food banks.

The agency plans to use the techniques, along with sharpshooters and bow hunters. The agency said the forest can't regenerate naturally because the deer density is at least three times greater than the park can sustain.

The suit by five area residents — including economist Jeremy Rifkin and the In Defense of Animals advocacy group — said the park service would be violating its statutory obligations to conserve wildlife and allow visitors to enjoy the park.

The suit said that if the cull is carried out, it would be the first time that the killings of wildlife is allowed in the park since it was formed in the 19th century.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.