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Friday, August 9, 2013

Deer hunters allowed in Annandale parks

A deer in Annandale Community Park.
Deer hunting is now allowed in several Fairfax County parks in the Annandale/Mason area, including Mason District Park, Roundtree Park, Holmes Run Stream Valley, the White Gardens Park, and Lillian Carey Park.

Residents living near these parks were sent a warning letter July 29 from Fairfax County Animal Control Director Michael J. Lucas, who actually retired in June. The fact that the form letter hadn’t been updated raises concerns about how well the deer program is being managed.

Fairfax County has allowed deer hunting by archery in selected parks since 2009. This is the first time it’s being allowed in what the letter refers to as the “Annandale Cluster.” Up to now, the Accotink Stream Valley in Wakefield Park was only park in the Annandale area where deer hunting was allowed. Deer hunting by sharpshooters also takes place in more remote areas of the county.

The archery program will be conducted between Sept. 7, 2013, and Feb. 15, 2014, by archery groups that have been approved by Fairfax County, the letter states. All shooting must be done from elevated tree stands that are placed at least 100 feet from park boundaries and at least 50 feet from established park trails.

The parks will not be closed during hunting activities, so people walking, biking, or otherwise enjoying nature could come across hunters shooting at deer or injured and dying deer. There are supposed to be signs posted at park entrances and along trails warning people that “deer management” activities are taking place. Hunting is not permitted on Sundays.

Archery groups can apply for the program online. “An archery group is comprised of qualified hunters who have demonstrated superior marksmanship and skill,” the letter states, and these groups are “closely monitored” by the the Animal Control Services Division of the Fairfax County Police Department.

According to the letter, the deer population needs to be culled because it “exceeds the carrying capacity that our remaining native habitats can sustain.” The deer are eating so much vegetation, they are having a negative impact on other wildlife. Other problems associated with deer include vehicle collisions and Lyme disease.

Animal rights organizations oppose deer hunting, calling the practice inhumane, ineffective, and dangerous to park users. They have proposed alternative solutions, such as 4-Poster stations to kill deer ticks and the DeerDeter system to discourage deer from crossing roads.

16 comments:

  1. Hey - I live right next to one of these parks and got no such notification!

    I am not opposed at all but didn't get diddly.

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    Replies
    1. Same here, didn't get any message whatsoever and live on the same block as a park.

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  2. I am not opposed to deer hunting but I do think when there will be deer hunters in the parks there should be a huge brightly colored signs through out the park that warns visitors that approved hunters are currently in the park.

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  3. I don't believe it!!!! Does the county know how many little kids are in our parks and playgrounds in the areas where they are allowing deer hunting? I do not mind the whole killing deer thing, they make good eating and are healthier than beef, but it is very dangerous this close to kids and parks. We never got a warning letter.
    They will be shooting very close to the playground at Rose Lane, and we have lot's of lots of youngsters here in Columbia Pines. This is a terrible idea!

    Marie

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  4. Terrible, terrible idea!

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  5. I am not opposed to slowing down the deer population but shooting seems rather dangerous.

    Isn't there some kind of birth control for them. There is a beautiful white deer with 3 brown fawns in the Pinecrest/Lincolnia area. Hope she is not shot. She's been in this area for about 6 or 7 years.

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  6. What could possibly go wrong...

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  7. Thats just great. I have 3 kids that play at Rose Lane park and Roundtree. Looks like we will be staying in more often. Ugh!

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  8. Regardless of the skill of the hunters, I sincerely advise that all residents and parents ensure that anyone of any age going near the hunting areas, use extreme caution and wear a blaze orange hat or vest. Prevention is much easier and far cheaper that the tragic cost of an accident! Kids should ABSOLUTELY NOT be allowed to build or occupy previously built tree houses, tents, shelters, or anything else a tree branch(es) can be misinterpreted as an antler. They're called accidents for a reason.

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  9. You people should realize that the bowhunters who have demonstrated the skills necessary to participate in this program will not be taking shots at anything except an actual deer (not a child, pet, etc) at very short range (e.g., less than 40 yards) with the ground as a backstop. There is no absolutely no danger to anybody.

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  10. Not enough notification to farther away as well as near residents. This is the first I heard, although I regularly walk my dog into the parks (Roundtree and or Mason District) from my home which is not near the entrances. People hearing shots from a distance will need to know what is going on. Signs posted at entrances will not last long. Can children read them? Is notification being done in several languages? If it is a good idea, preparation and communication seems quite inadequate.

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  11. @ the last Anonymous - You are very right. Signs are not adequate. I do not care what anyone says there is danger even in a very short range. You never know when a kid sees a deer and decides to run for it or a kid looks like a deer because he is wearing brown and carrying branchs. I do not mind the idea of deer hunting but accidents do happen.

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  12. Just released ....

    2013 Annual Report on the Environment
    WILDLIFE AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN FAIRFAX COUNTY
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/eqac/report2013/8__wildlife_management.pdf

    Read with interest and an open mind. The report states the facts.

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  13. My home borders one of the parks which deer management will be taking place, although not in the program myself I can reassure everyone with any safety concerns that bow hunting in general is as safe as it gets when it comes to hunting whitetail deer. I grew up in rural Virginia around hunters all my life and have been bow hunting myself. When I hear worries of kids being mistaken as deer for carrying sticks or wearing brown coats I find it somewhat humorous, not the concern itself but the general lack of common sense and the unfortunate misinformation. Deer hunters especially while bow hunting are not shooting at random nor do bows have hair triggers which hunters might accidentally press in the midst of an adrenaline rush by seeing some kid running through the woods in a brown coat. I suggest you people get some good information and educate yourselves as it sounds like most of the negative comments and thoughts are being fueled by a bit of ignorance, no pun intended.

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  14. Well, as one of the bow hunters in the program I would like to address some of the mis-information posted so far. 1) We don't hunt around the playgrounds as there are too many people and the deer don't generally like to mingle with people. Your kids are perfectly safe at the playground. 2) When bow hunting we don't shoot at anything running through the woods and we don't shoot through the bushes because unlike a firearm the bushes will ALWAYS deflect the arrow thus causing us to miss the deer. Once again, your kids are perfectly safe running through the woods. 3) 99.9% of the time, the deer is less than 90 feet away from us. When a deer is in this close, it's impossible to mistake it for a human. 4) Anybody can shoot a deer with a firearm, It's only the dedicated hunters that take up the challenge of hunting with archery tackle. We're not the Rambo want-to-be that goes out and shoots at everything that moves. 5) Nationwide there has NEVER been an accidental shooting of another human with archery tackle. 6) Most of us eat the deer we kill, some of us donate the meat to Hunters for the Hungry. The meat NEVER goes to waste. 7) We are saving lives by decreasing the deer/car accidents and saving money by decreasing the deer damage to home owner's landscaping.

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  15. This last person was right on point with every comment. Everyone else also needs to understand that in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is a violation of the law to impede a hunter who is hunting lawfully. If you see a hunter, walk away. Not only will you be "safer," but also you will get out of the way of any deer who might be headed his or her way, and thus you won't be obstructing their lawful hunting activity.

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