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County Deer Hunts Start This Weekend

by Karen Goff — September 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm 24 Comments

Deer on path near Lake ThoreauDeer management season begins this week in Virginia, which means many Fairfax County parks will have skilled volunteer archers at work controlling the deer population.

Fairfax County officials say archery “has been shown to be a safe and effective deer management tool to control deer populations on public and private lands in Fairfax County and other high-density jurisdictions.” Fairfax has been using bowhunters for deer management since 2010.

Parks and land near Reston include Fred Crabtree Park, Little Difficult Run, Difficult Run and Waples Mill Meadow. See a full list of locations on the Fairfax County website.

In 2013, the county archery program culled more than 1.000 deer. The county says 848 were killed by bow and arrow. Since Virginia began tracking hunting injuries in 1959, no injuries related to archery have been reported by bystanders anywhere in the state, Fairfax County officials said.

Archers are approved to hunt at assigned sites Monday through Saturday during legal hunting hours, 30 minutes prior to sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset through Feb. 21. Florescent orange and yellow signs are posted wherever managed hunting activity takes place and archers must stay 100 feet from property lines and 50 feet from established park trails.

Reducing the deer population cuts down on thousands of deer-vehicle collisions that occur in Fairfax County each year, as well as the spread of diseases such as Lyme disease, says county police chief Edwin Roessler.

“Reducing the number of injuries and fatalities that result from deer-vehicle collisions is one of the primary goals of the deer management program,” Roessler said in a news release. “Deer management is an integral part of creating a culture of safety in Fairfax County.”

Meanwhile, private homeowners on Sourwood Drive in Reston may also be hunting on their properties soon. In late June, Reston Association approved the three homeowners’ request to hire a private deer management company to cull deer. The homeowners were concerned about the deer population damaging property and harboring potential Lyme Disease-carrying ticks.

The Reston hunt was supposed to be OK for this deer-hunt season, but an RA spokesman said insurance and other final paperwork has not yet been finalized.

RA says it will discuss its overall deer policy in a meeting later this month.

  • animallover

    I believe that RA meeting is open to the community to voice their concerns. It is scheduled Thursday, September 25, 6pm. if you can, please attend and voice your opinion or concerns about deer-hunting, via bow and arrow methods. I would prefer the spay program as I feel it’s more humane and in the end probably more successful.

    • AnimalLoverActually

      The spay program is ridiculously inefficient and expensive. You’re actually saying that a difficult, costly, and potentially dangerous surgery is more humane than simply ending a deer’s life? You wouldn’t spay rats. You would put out rat poison. We can’t poison deer, so we kill them with bows and arrows.

      Do some research on modern day bows, and you’ll realize this isn’t going to be some scene out of Lord of the Rings, where each deer is painfully filled with arrow after arrow. This will be silent, effective, and mercifully deadly single shots from close range into a deer’s vital organs.

      • animallover

        As I said, if you are opposed to the bow and arrow hunt program attend the meeting. I am.

      • BBurns

        Silent to the humans, anyway. Then we don’t have to think about it, right? Even hunters have told me about severely wounded deer they’ve seen stumbling through woods with an arrow sticking out of them. So much for merciful.

      • Helen D

        Yes, I do believe that difficult, costly, and potentially dangerous surgery is more humane than ending a deer’s life.

      • Jthomas

        From what I’ve read of the bow hunting groups, they use volunteer hunters, people don’t actually bow hunt as a profession, year round 24/7 as it’s not really a viable profession in a civilized society. So that means, you also have rusty amateurs out there hunting for sport.

  • That Guy

    Sterilization and contraceptives are not proven deer management tools, therefore are not available to Fairfax County. The county uses all legal methods available to manage deer. The city project is a research project,not deer management, no matter what the animal rights community claims. Don’t drink the kool-aide. Fairfax County needs deer management and that mean lethal deer management. Archery Hunting is a scientifically proven, safe, efficient, deer management tool. It is also the only tool available to the public in the highly developed areas due to its safety record and the restrictions on firearms.

    • justsayin

      I’d like to see if any actual studies, reports and facts have been put together by the RA and if alternative methods have been discussed. That would be a good starting point.

  • Argyn Kuketayev

    At last. It’s long overdue.

  • subrotomitro

    Human Population is getting out of Control. Can we legally begin to slaughter humans and eat their meat as Bar-b-q. We all need to become vegetarians and FDA must promote knowledge of vegetarianism. Or LET US LEGALLY BEGIN KILLING HUMANS AS THEIR POPULATION IS OUT OF CONTROL.

    • Tom

      We do it’s called abortion.

    • obama2k16

      This is the kind of progressive thinking we as a country need to get behind!

  • subrotomitro

    US CONGRESSMEN, U R preventing me the pleasure of watching Mr. & Mrs Deer on our Pedestrian Walk-way as couples by regulating and allowing their killing.

  • AG

    From research that I have been able to find, there is little to no evidence that hunting deer helps to lower the population in any area other than small islands where the hunting continues on a regular basis. It doesn’t control Lyme Disease either. If the population is lowered by hunting then deer will have babies at an earlier age and will begin having more twins in order to rebuild the population. We did research on this several years ago when there were some other neighbors who wanted to hunt on their property. If there is unbiased evidence that hunting is an effective means of controlling the deer population I would be happy to see it. Not just someones opinion, but actual research.

    • Jthomas

      Yes. And The only proposed hunting in Reston is on one suburban street, Sourwood lane. The (3) neighbors there petitioned the RA and we’re granted this bow hunt behind their residential homes. The deer will just move 300 yards down the nature trail, the whole idea behind this is absurd.

      • That guy

        That was the 4th permit issued by the RA. so it is not the only. The goal is to reduce the number of deer on those 3 adjacent lots. If the deer move elsewhere, then the objective is met.

        • Jthomas

          And in a month, they return. I think that’s a waste of money, and my RA dues.

          • The other guy

            you pay your RA dues either way.

    • That Guy

      You sure didn’t look very hard! There are decades of science and management history of using hunting, specifically controlling the Doe harvest, to control deer populations. A good place to start would be: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/deer/management-plan/virginia-deer-management-plan.pdf.
      And just one example of many from recent publications where hunting reduced the population. Fun fact about this one is that they reduced the deer population with hunting, which reduced the ticks, which reduced the cases of lyme.
      Kilpatrick, Howard J.; Labonte, Andrew M.; Stafford, Kirby C. The Relationship Between Deer Density, Tick Abundance, and Human Cases of Lyme Disease in a Residential Community. Journal of Medical Entomology, July 2014 DOI: 10.1603/ME13232

      The idea that the deer reproduce more to rebuild the population is a misunderstanding of compensatory mortality, which is a well researched population dynamics theory. The situation where reproduction does increase is when the deer are unhealthy because they have eaten themselves out of house and home. By reducing the population, there are more resources for the remaining deer, which means their health is increased, which in turn allows them to reproduce the way healthy deer naturally do. This does NOT mean that you cannot reduce the population with hunting. It does mean that if you take only a couple deer, the year to year population dies not decrease. The animal rights community has used this complete misunderstanding of a complex ecological principle to convince people that you can’t reduce the population with hunting. Don’t drink the kool-aide.

      • AG

        I did read this http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/w… and did not see any evidence that hunting controlled the population. In fact, in the chart of goals that were set for each VA county for population the only goals that were met were in areas that where the population was already stable and the goal was to keep those areas stable. Goals were not met in any area where the population was increasing and the goal was to either stabilize or decrease the population. It was also not met in areas where stye population was decreasing and the goal was to increase or stabilize the population. So apparently, from that study they we unable to affect the deer population in any manner.

        The studies that I originally researched were all non biased studies. I did not even look at studies produced by animal rights groups or hunters and was very particular in which studies I did take into consideration because I didn’t care what the outcome was. I simply wanted the facts.

        It is true that in areas where there are less deer there is also less tick borne disease, but is that from the lack of deer or is it because areas that have less deer also have less White Footed Mice( the carrier of Lyme Disease) and also less fox, raccoons, skunk, etc. which all can transport the ticks that carry the disease?

        I have not had a chance to read the last study that you sited by I will as soon as I have a chance.

        • That Guy

          I shared the link to give you a place to start looking at references. See:

          Sigmund, C., Jr., and D. J. Bernier. 1994. Deer management program for Watchung Reservation, Union County, New Jersey:Summary and evaluation of the 1994 deer reduction program. Division of Parks and Recreation, Union County, N.J.

          Deblinger, R. D., D. W. Rimmer, J. J. Vaske, and G. M. Vecellio. 1995. Efficiency of controlled, limited hunting at the CraneReservation in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Pages 75–79 in J. B.McAninch, ed., Urban Deer: A Manageable Resource? 1993 Symposium of the North Central Section, St. Louis, Mo.: The Wildlife Society

          Kilpatrick, H. J., S. M. Spohr, and G. G. Chasko. 1997. A controlled hunt on a state-owned coastal reserve in Connecticut: Controversies, strategies, and results.Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:451–456.

          Mitchell, J. M., G. J. Pagac, and G. R. Parker. 1997. Informed consent: Gaining support for removal of overabundant white-tailed deer on an Indiana state park. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:447–450.

          McDonald, J. E., Jr., M. R. Ellingwood, and G.M. Vecellio. 1998. Case studies in controlled deer hunting. NewHampshire Fish and Game Department, Durham

          Kilpatrick, H. J., and W. D. Walter. 1999. A controlled archery deer hunt in a residential community: Cost, effectiveness, and deer recover rates. Wildlife Society Bulletin 27:115–123.

          I could go on, but you get the idea.

          The Kilpatrick paper I gave before has deer, tick and lyme surveys before, during, and after the hunt. It has nothing to do with the other mammal species. Enjoy the reading.

          • AG

            I have read some of the studies that you suggested. it seems that there has been some success in controlling the population in some locales w/ an initial rapid (a few days) massive and costly reduction in population and then extensive follow up. One study for Connecticut said that where populations were controlled the herd was thinned from somewhere between 75-95% in small, control groups. This was done at a great cost, by using sharp shooters who worked at night in baited areas over a multiple day period and then was followed up on a regular basis with other control methods as well.

            One study in Texas said Archery hunting has been the preferred method within many residential areas, due to the weapon’s
            limited shooting range and relative silence (Lund 1997, Ver Steeg et al. 1995). However, Texas
            Parks and Wildlife Department’s public deer hunt data suggests that hunter success is usually much
            lower with this method compared to firearms hunting. Additionally, archery hunting is commonly
            perceived to result in higher wounding losses and increased travel distances before deer succumb to
            their injury (Kilpatrick and Walter 1999). This could lead to possible conflicts with nearby residents
            and should be considered prior to employing this technique. It also said Managing an overabundant deer population should be accomplished in two phases (DeNicola et al. 2000).
            First, the Initial Reduction Phase is implemented to remove large numbers of deer from an overabundant
            herd during a short period of time to achieve desired deer densities. Deer managers have learned that deer
            herd reduction measures that remove less than 50% of the estimated population typically do not provide
            significant relief from density-related problems. After completion of the initial phase, a Maintenance Phase
            includes long-term efforts to maintain deer densities at target levels. Many protected areas include deer-
            proof fencing projects in their long-term maintenance program in order to restrict the ingress of additional
            deer and gain more control over their deer herd. Most importantly, deer managers should have long-term
            deer management plans in place before initiating deer herd reduction operations.

            Since I doubt that the hunting that will be done is going to lower the deer population in Reston by more than 50% let alone 75 or more % that created some success from other studies it seems, based on the studies that I read from your suggestions, the only way the home owners are going to rid their property of deer is to put up a deer fence if they want any kind of long term solution. If that is the case then maybe that should be their 1st choice to solve the problem. That would solve their deer problem and keep the neighbors who are upset about the killing of the deer happy as well. Sounds like a win-win solution. I have clients in Great Falls who have been happily using a deer fence for years with a great deal of success. Although, that would come as an expense to the home owners and I’m guess that is not the case if they bring in hunters.

            If hunting on a individual homeowners property would eradicate the deer from their property long term then it might be worth upsetting your neighbors over it, but if this isn’t really going to solve their problem long term them maybe it isn’t worth the upset it causing.

            Since bow hunting is done in many parks throughout Fairfax county I would be interested in seeing any info that is available on the success rate for lowering the deer population in those parks. You seem to have knowledge of many of the studies that have been done, Can you reference any for Fairfax County?

  • pc

    IF killing the deer is the right thing to do (big IF), why not a tranquilizer dart first and then kill the deer? It would seem to be more humane. Of course, this method would deny the bow hunters their sport. I also agree with the person below who would like to see recent studies, reports and facts, as opposed to the tired old studies.

    • That guy

      Tranquilizers are drugs that make the meat inedible. If you did this, you would waste all the meat that could be donated to the needy. Besides, shooting a deer with a dart is much harder than with a bow or crossbow, so your success rate would be so low that you probably wouldn’t have much of an impact.

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