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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Animal advocates urged FXCO Board of Supervisors to end bowhunting program

Opponents of Fairfax County’s use of bowhunting to control the deer population told the Board of Supervisors (BOS) Dec. 6 that archery is ineffective and inhumane.

Murry J. Cohen, president of a national organization called In Defense of Animals, said, “Bow hunting is an unacceptable and extremely cruel way to kill deer.” Studies show deer shot with arrows “die slowly over many minutes, consciously experiencing the full pain of dying.”  He urged the BOS to immediately stop the bowhunting program and instead adopt non-lethal controls like contraception.

The BOS didn’t take any action on the issue, but BOS Chair Sharon Bulova expressed an interest in looking into humane and effective alternatives. Gerry Hyland (Mount Vernon) requested more information on the results of the archery program. Mason Supervisor Penny Gross didn’t speak at the meeting, but has told the Annandale blog in the past she supports bowhunting.

After several people mentioned 4-Posters bait stations, devices that eradicate deer ticks that cause Lyme disease without harming deer, Pat Herrity, (Springfield) asked Fairfax County wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe for more information about them.

The 4-Poster system is highly effective and is used in 26 states, Michelle Raiszadeh told the BOS. She noted that Fairfax County was offered nine free 4-Posters a few years ago but rejected them and has now spent $400,000 on a three-year study of these devices.

Raiszadeh suggested reducing collisions by installing an affordable, low-maintenance, roadside deer warning system called DeerDeter. These small, solar-powered, sound-emitting, headlight-activated devices have been found to be 90 percent effective. “Why are deer being made into scapegoats while real solutions to our problems of deer/vehicle collisions and Lyme disease are being ignored?” she asked.

And, she also asked, “Why allow our wildlife to suffer a long, painful, slow death?” Bowhunting is “the most barbaric and inhumane method of hunting and is so cruel that several states and most of Europe have outlawed it.”

“I no longer feel safe walking through our parks knowing bowhunting is taking place,” said Raiszadeh, who noted that she’s heard horror stories about hunters accidentally shooting dogs, horses, and people.

She also urged the supervisors to consider “the mentality of the bowhunters.” According to comments from members of one of the bowhunting groups, Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia, in the group’s newsletter, she said, these hunters “seem to have no respect for life and find thrills in killing the innocent.”

Elissa Matulis Myers of Springfield spoke about how distressing it’s been to encounter deer that had been victims of the deer management program. While walking with her dog, Indi, on the paths at Wakefield Park Sept. 24, “we came upon a yearling—a little doe—shot  through the chest and the stomach,” she recalled. “I can’t express fully the emotion that I felt. We knew that doe, had played with her; she watched us, we watched her.  The deer lay, unrecovered for two days, five feet from a path in Wakefield Park where children, runners, cyclists, and dog walkers roam.”

 A few weeks later, Myers encountered another dead deer near Lake Accotink. “This one had been decapitated, I guess for the ‘trophy’ head, and left to serve as dinner for the growing coyote population.” She found the skeletal remains of a third deer just this week. [Fairfax County rules for its deer management program require hunters to remove the bodies of dead deer.]

“Indi and I still love our woods,  but we’ve gone from laughing with delight at the creatures and plants, to treading fearfully,” Myers said. “We both have learned the smell of death and walk with trepidation through our beloved woods.”


  1. When will animal rights nuts wake up and realize animals are here for our use and threats to HUMAN life must ALWAYS 100 percent of the time take precedence over animals. These things spread Lyme disease and kill people in car accidents. Contraception? Great, let's use drugs on these poor animals. Bowhunting today as was done in the time of the Indians is a perfectly natural and humane way to cull the deer population. These people probably mean well but our misguided. Want to take up a cause that protects inncoent life? Look into the pro-life movement. Like to see if these folks are as pro-life with humans as they are animal life. If not, just lost souls seeking a cause.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Please research your knowledge. Deer DO not spread Lyme disease. Secondly, we have taken over all their living space. Also, maybe you should consider doing some research as well on humane methods of culling because bowhunting is not instant death.

  3. Melissa Klein12/10/11, 1:05 PM

    I am hoping that Anonymous is doing considerable volunteer prolife work, to justify having his/her own opinion. As it seems for some reason to be the criteria to being a concerned citizen who has the right to speak out to their elected officials to better serve their interests. It is important that we not ignore any deer-human conflict. That said, the answer isn't the simplistic "kill them to reduce #'s," as it just doesn't work. So, inefficiency is one "slam dunk" argument against our current Deer Management focus on killing of deer. As for bowhunting, it is self evident if it were the most efficient killing method our own military would have an Archery Program to wage our wars. NOT, of course.

    Which brings us to the moral and inhumane aspect. If it is an inefficient killing method, and we have other options, we shouldn't be using it, also because it is inhumane due to increasing the odds of causing an unnecessary slow, suffering death for the victim. No civilized person can argue against this reality, successfully. Oxymoron of the highest order.

  4. Folks the miltary does not use bows and arrows because they are less lethal at long range. Should we resort to using guns in parks then? The hunters shoot DOWN frm a tree stand at short range to minimize the risk to humans and be as humane AS THEY CAN. We have to get rid of them, so what do you reccomend, poison? Homeless shelters full of PEOPLE love the fresh and free range meat!

    By the way, previous posters need to do some research. Deer DO spread LYME. A Google search in a nanosecond revealed an article by the uber-liberal tree hugging NPR in Minnesota;

    "The Minnesota Department of Health said a large number of deer ticks carry disease-causing organisms. The health department collected deer ticks over a three-year period and tested them for Lyme, and two other diseases.

    State health department epidemiologist Melissa Kemperman says one-third of the ticks tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

    One-third of deer carry these ticks. If you're out in the woods and you (OR YOUR PET!!!) has a bunch of ticks crawling on you, there's quite a few of those that could be carrying the Lyme disease bacteria. And if those ticks bit you and they were attached long enough to transmit those bacteria, you could get sick."

    Get a life and a real cause to support!!! Volunteer at a food bank or do something that helps PEOPLE instead of thinking animals are equals to humans. Newsflash - your precious FiFi is NOT a person NOR equivalent in ANY way shaoe or form to that honor student in your neighborhood. They are NOT people. Here again the animal rights wackos atr on the wrong dide again - their beloved pets spread the disease to humans, so theyare making the problem worse and making US sick. I wonder how many of the pets people keep would run away from their owners (who may be sadly trying to substitute animals for HUMAN companiponship/fellowship they can't sustain) and be free if they only could! If you want to argue killing deer to protect human life is cruel then I could argue so is a lonely person enslaving a carnoverous animal who eats meat that could be served to starving people. Growing and harvesting meat generates carbon and contributes to global warming? Seriously, one could argue that. Get a real cause to spend your time on.

  5. Melissa Klein12/10/11, 8:17 PM

    Oh... deer ticks do cause Lyme disease... but deers do not. You could just as easily call them dog ticks or human ticks, and dogs and humans don't spread or cause Lyme disease. In fact, most biologists are now simply calling them black ticks...and not deer ticks... and by the way I was fascinated to learn that "medicine" that DOES kill ticks... can be included in the 'four poster' stations and that would allow the deer to HELP us reduce lyme disease...

  6. Ok, lets think rationally, not emotionally. Since millions of animals die by cars everyday, should we all eliminate cars? I could argue that animal actvisits driving cars are guilty as well for using a tool that kills animals!

    I care about animals overall, but we need to use common sense in dealing with animal issues that affect humans. If deer is overpopulated in a region, I would rather have a bow hunting program than a ton of deer killed in car accidents which can also kill or injure humans.

  7. I suspect that the Mr. or Ms. 6-Paragraph, Get-a-Life Anonymous commentator probably has a hard time sustaining human companionship him or herself if that rant is any indication.

  8. Fairfax County resident and bowhunter12/17/11, 4:15 AM

    The overpopulation of deer is a significant problem, for the people who hit them with their cars, and for the deer themselves. Dying from a car collision is not painless. Starvation due to overpopulation and insufficient food is quite painful.

    Harvesting the animals for food (as humans do with chickens, pigs and cows) is the most natural way to deal with the problem. According to a Cornell U study, there were 500,000 deer in the US in the 1900s. There are 20 million today. As bowhunters, we don't want to eradicate deer or make them suffer--we love deer! But maintaining a healthy population is best for people and the animals themselves.

    And, Melissa, I don't know about Anonymous, but I contribute to pro-life ministries and my full-time job is working with homeless and unemployed people.

  9. Just as once-common practices like slavery and child sacrifice are now considered unacceptable by most people, there will be a time when humanity will evolve enough to consider hunting animals for sport barbaric. Do we need to solve all our problems by killing?

  10. Agree that all life should be respected, but this is not anything like hunting for sport. Let's get our priorities in order and demonstrate we can protect human life first (stop spread of disease to humans and car accidents that hurt people.) If you are not pro-life of people first (anti-abortion and "mercy killing") you are a total fraud and hypocrite if you think animals deserve our attention if you turn a blind eye to the death of innocent humans. Declining population rates due to abortuon will be the scourge of this generation like slavery was before.

  11. Second most of the above that we need to control deer, and actually Mr. or Ms. 6-Paragraph, Get-a-Life Anonymous is my kind of guy or gal!

  12. Melissa Klein12/27/11, 11:36 PM

    So, it is the old false choice of humans vs. animals! Geesh, cant we simply address problems or issues, individually, which is how you actually solve them?!... It is inarguably logical that we should be using the latest methodology and technology and as humanely as possible. Which in the case of dealing with the various human-deer conflicts certainly isn't bow and arrow hunting! As for "we have to kill 'em" because they could suffer being hit and dying from vehicles, we could use the same twisted logic in any # of situations. Our killing some #'s of deer isn't going to effectively reduce DVC's and improve highway safety for the people or the deer. Deer are one of many factors in parkland understory damage, which certainly should be addressed. Again, killing a # of deer hasn't been shown to solve that. There isn't any considerable population of starving deer. Any statements about how "there are too many deer" are indicative of the "cultural carrying capacity" re the individual impression. Not fact.