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Saturday, April 1, 2017

County tries new approach to curbing deer population


Faced with a budget shortfall and disappointing results in its archery program, Fairfax County is trying a new approach to reducing the deer population.

Under the soon-to-be-launched Predator Pilot Program, the county will embed wild coyotes, wolves, and possibly a couple of “coywolves,” into local parks to reduce the number of deer.

“The deer population is out of control,” says county wildlife specialist Cody Burruss. “They are destroying people’s gardens, damaging the undergrowth in forested areas, spreading Lyme disease, and running across roads causing car accidents, which is a safety hazard.”

The county’s current means of attacking the problem focuses on engaging local bow hunters to shoot the deer in public parks. That effort has proven ineffective, however, as there aren’t enough people willing to wait around in deer stands until the animals make an appearance.

Then when the hunters do see a deer, they often fail to hit their target, Burruss says. Then, there’s all the work involved in hauling the dead animals out of the park in secret and disposing of them without alarming the public.

The Predator Pilot Program is a more efficient, sustainable initiative that takes advantage of how nature is supposed to work. Part of the reason for the overpopulation of deer is the lack of a natural relationship of hunter vs. prey. Re-introducing wolves and coyotes into the ecosystem where they used to thrive should re-set the balance of nature.

These animals are instinctual hunters, Burruss says. With their strong claws, sharp teeth, and taste for meat, wolves and coyotes should make quick work of culling the aging and weaker deer from the herds.

Another key advantage of enlisting these carnivores in the fight against the deer population explosion: They don’t need any training or special equipment, and that adds up to a significant cost savings, he says.

Burruss does have a note of caution for local residents, however. People should probably keep their pet cats indoors and take extra care when walking their dogs and taking their children to local parks. 

18 comments:

  1. Sort of irresponsible April 1 prank don't you think? I can see folks getting scared about this. Remember Orson Well's "War of the Worlds" radio program?

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  2. Ellie,
    Please tell me this is an April Fools article.

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  3. Adam Goldberg4/1/17, 3:37 PM

    Your best apr 1 work yet!

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  4. Adam Goldberg4/1/17, 3:37 PM

    https://youtu.be/P9yruQM1ggc

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  5. April Fools Day joke or fake news???

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  6. It's time to take off the gloves and make unrestricted deer hunting available to all county residents. By that, I mean anywhere, anytime, and with any hunting weapon. No more silly pandering to tender sensibilities or Bambi lovers. This is war and we won't be safe in our cars and yards until every last one of those whitetailed menaces are dispatched.

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  7. We already have coywolves in Annandale. One has gone after a dog near Evergreen.

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  8. Coywolves are already in Annandale. Spotted near Evergreen - went after pet dog who was being walked.

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  9. just have Penny Gross walk through the woods that will scare them off.

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  10. This is an amazingly irresponsible April Fool's "joke". You should really rethink your sense of humor. We already have a real and serious problem with deer overpopulation that destroys our vegetation and spreads disease, and coyotes that eat pets, and a Borad that's terrified of anyone exercising their 2nd amendment rights, much less culling the deer herd. Sadly this "joke" sounds EXACTLY like what the space-headed Board would do.

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    Replies
    1. I can't tell if all these people are posting April fools joke replies too because no one could possibly be this devoid of humor

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    2. Lighten up.

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    3. Unknown 9:42 AM, without people like you, obviously fake conspiracy theories could never blossom. In fact, the President of the United States would like you on his National Security team.

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  11. I really enjoyed your April fools article. I like parody with enough veracity to make it seem real, great job! BTW I hope this article doesn’t discourage Fairfax County from their plan to release Cayman and piranha in local ponds and streams to discourage the Canadian geese population.

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  12. We need to rethink the bow hunting program. It is not reasonable to put all of a park, aside from "extablished trails," whatever that means, off-limits to the public for half the year. What is an "established trail" anyway? If you follow a narrow dirt trail through the woods, is that "established?" How is one supposed to know? How do you know if the hunters know about any given trail?

    I would like to be able to take my dog for walks on the smaller trails, since the main trails have cyclists. Cyclists and dogs on extendable leashes do not work well together on the same trail.

    My suggestion is to restrict hunting to just one month per year in any given park. It can be a different month in each park.

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  13. Great job Ellie! Fake news at it's finest.

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