Open Season for Deer Control in Parks


Graphic by Ben Cornwell

Graphic by Ben Cornwell
Graphic by Ben Cornwell

Every metropolitan DC citizen sees the “Beware of Deer” signs on just about any roadway. In Rockville, they are even more common.

The impacts of deer overpopulation range from irritated gardeners losing hours of yard work, to car accidents caused by deer crossings. Deer do not have any natural predators, leading to overpopulation.

Two main approaches to the deer problem are hunting the deer and surgical sterilization of females. In Montgomery County, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and the city of Rockville decided on hunting.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County has a more humane approach to controlling the deer population through safely sterilizing a group of female deer. The county projects that there will be a 50 percent decrease in the deer population with the new method.

Fairfax County’s solution is the best option to approach the deer overpopulation issue not only because it is more humane, but also because it addresses the concerns of civilian safety in a densely populated area that hunting would bring.

In Fairfax County, the process of sparing the deer starts by Fairfax police and volunteers shooting the deer with tranquilizer darts and transporting them to a surgical center to have the deer’s ovaries removed.

Sterilizing the deer is a more humane solution because the deer do not have to have to be killed off, but can continue to live and take care of their families. This solution is still just as effective because by the next mating season, their population growth will slow down substantially.

No one is arguing that the deer are not a problem, as there is evidenced by increasing number of automotive accidents that are caused by the overpopulation of deer.

Sophomore Sara Cha said, “I’m kind of glad they’re dealing with the deer. One time my dad ran into a deer on the road and the repair was really expensive. The whole door and mirror had to be replaced.”

Many assume that the best use for the venison is to aid in feeding the homeless. The big problem with this is that advocates for the homeless and most state health departments prohibit serving deer meat to shelters because it is difficult to ensure safety in their preparation and processing.

Another concern with deer hunting is whether it is safe enough for the densely populated Rockville area. Special safety measures have been taken during hunting hours, such as posting signs in front of parks and closing them during hunting days.

The city of Rockville should take the same approach as the sterilization experiment in Fairfax County to contribute to a positive and promising solution for deer overpopulation.