|A sign warning the public about bow hunting at the entrance to a park in Annandale.|
Five hunters have been suspended from Fairfax County’s archery program to control the deer population following an incident with a Parklawn resident Nov. 16.
Karen Corbett was at the playground in Heywood Glen Park near Holmes Run Stream Valley Park with her three-year-old twins and one-year-old when she was confronted with a disturbing sight: a group bow hunters pulling three dead, bleeding deer stacked up on a trailer. It was obvious that the hunters had just killed the deer in the park.
“My daughter asked me what was wrong with the deer,” and that was very upsetting, she says. “It was a conversation I wasn’t prepared to have. I was angry. When something upsets your kids, it’s like a switch that flips.”
The hunters told Corbett they had every right to do what they were doing and refused her request to give their names and show their hunting licenses. Her husband, Jason, then intervened, and one of the hunters showed his permit.
This is the first year that Fairfax County is allowing deer hunting in what it calls the “Annandale cluster,” which includes Holmes Run Stream Valley, Mason District Park, Roundtree Park, the White Gardens Park, and the Lillian Carey Park. A group called United Whitetail Archers of North America has been approved to hunt in the Annandale cluster.
Vicky Monroe, the wildlife biologist responsible for Fairfax County’s deer management program, responded to Corbett’s complaint about that incident Nov. 19, telling her the hunters violated the county’s rules on bow hunting. Those rules require hunters to completely cover dead deer, be discrete when removing dead deer, show their IDs when asked, and report any incidents involving members of the public.
Monroe told Corbett the five hunters she encountered by the playground are suspended for the remainder of the 2013-14 deer-hunting season. In addition, all 25 members of the United Whitetail Archers are prohibited from doing any more hunting in any of the parks in the Annandale Cluster until the group takes part in an emergency retraining session.
An email sent sent to people who live near Holmes Run Stream Valley at the start of the hunting season states: “The group should already be aware of the children’s play area. It is a requirement that all deer retrieved from the park be covered with a tarp etc. and done discreetly so that patrons do not have to see the animal being removed. If you notice anything to the contrary, please let us know.”
Corbett “was completely justified in being upset,” said Kristen Sinclair, a senior natural resource specialist in the Fairfax County Park Authority. “We are very sorry this happened. It was a very unfortunate situation and out of the norm.”
According to Monroe, this is only the second incidence involving a clash between hunters and the public since Fairfax County launched its bow hunting program in 2010. The only other incident involved an improperly covered deer carcass that left about four inches of a hoof exposed.
Since the hunting season started Sept. 7, Sinclair said, nearly 40 deer have been killed by archers in the Annandale Cluster. The season ends Feb. 15.