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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Deer sharpshooting approved for Annandale Community Park

Deer at Annandale Community Park.
The Fairfax County deer hunting program is expanding again this year. Two new parks have been added in Mason District for bow hunting – Bren Mar Park and Turkey Cock Run, both in the Alexandra area – and for the first time sharpshooting will take place in Annandale Community Park. Archery will also be permitted in Long Branch Steam Valley in the Braddock District.

The Fairfax County deer hunting season starts Sept. 12 and runs through Feb. 20, 2016.

Two public informational meetings have been scheduled for the public on the deer management program: Aug. 13, 7 p.m., in the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Conference Rooms 4-5, and Aug. 18, 7 p.m., at the Mount Vernon District office, 2511 Parkers Lane, Alexandria.

Fairfax County has used archery since 2010 to reduce the deer population. The county selects qualified bow hunters to shoot deer in designated parks Monday through Saturday, 30 minutes prior to sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.

Bren Mar and Turkey Cock Run Park were added to the archery program this year because of requests from the community, says Katherine Edwards, the county’s wildlife management specialist.

Sharpshooting at Annandale Community Park has been added because of the overpopulation of deer and because there were a number of deer-vehicle collisions in the area. That park is next to the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, offer Hummer Road.

Sharpshooting at that location will take place sometime in December and February, but specific dates haven’t been set. It will be done at night, with the set up at about 4-5 p.m. and the hunt completed by 9:30, Edwards says.  Sharpshooters will be positioned on elevated stands and will use suppressors so people living nearby shouldn’t be disturbed by loud gunshots. Residents will be warned in advance, and there will be additional police security around the park to keep the public out.

Sharpshooting will also be continued at Green Spring Gardens. Sharpshooters killed seven deer at Green Spring last year.

In another change for the upcoming deer hunting season, all archers will have to pass criminal background checks, Edwards says, and fewer hunters will be approved for the program – 685, compared to 780 archers last year. “We want to ensure they are highly skilled and qualified and will participate,” she says. “Last year there were a number of people who qualified but never hunted.”

The county’s archery program netted a total of 916 deer countywide during the 2014-15 season. Another 82 were killed during a managed hunt.

Here are the bow hunting results in the Annandale/Mason area last year: Eakin Park – 10 deer; Sally Ormsby Park – 2; Holmes Run – 3; Lillian Carey – 1; Mason District Park – 4; Round Tree – 7; Lake Accotink – 26; Accotink North – 28; and Wakefield Park – 7.

Fairfax County’s deer hunting program is motivated by the need to control deer overpopulation, minimize environmental damage, prevent deer-vehicle collisions, and prevent the spread of disease.

Other wildlife advocates, such as a group called Humane Deer Management, call for non-lethal methods of addressing those issues, such as birth control and pesticides to eliminate deer ticks that cause Lyme disease.

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