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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bowhunting in FXCO parks starts in September

If you’re planning an early morning or evening walk in county parks during the next few months, you might want to see if there’s a sign posted warning that bowhunting or another deer management operation is in progress.

Bowhunters will be permitted in county parks from the first Saturday in September to the last Saturday in March. The hunting can only take place up to 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset, Monday through Saturday.

Fairfax County wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe explained the county’s deer management program at a public meeting Aug. 9 at the Mason District Government Center. Additional meetings are scheduled in each district. The Braddock meeting, covering bowhunting in Lake Accotink Park will be held Aug. 24, 7 p.m., at the Braddock District Government Center.

The county uses three methods to control deer: nighttime sharpshooting by members of the police SWAT team, controlled daytime hunts by police officers, and bowhunting by community volunteers. This year, the bowhunting program program will take place in 20 county parks, up from 11 last year and two when the program started in 2009.

The only park affected in the Mason District is the Accotink Stream Valley, and only bowhunting will be allowed in that park.

Last year, a total of 815 deer were harvested, the largest on record since the deer management program began in 1998. The archery program netted 452 deer. Sharpshooting operations conducted at 15 parks yielded 226 deer last year, and managed hunts were conducted at four parks with a yield of 137 deer.
According to Monroe, archery is the most effective and humane method of controlling the deer population. With archery, fewer deer are wounded and run off (3.3 percent last year), compared to sharpshooting (6.4 percent) and managed hunts (20 percent).

Killing off some deer is necessary because the deer population is way in excess of what the environment can handle and because of the problems caused by deer, including traffic accidents, damage to plants, destruction of bird and other wildlife habitat, and Lyme disease, Monroe says. She estimates there are at least 26,000 deer in Fairfax County.

To participate in the archery program, people have to join or form a group with 10 to 50 members. The deadline for registering a group was Aug. 5. Twenty-three groups applied, and 20 will be selected—one for each park in the program. A group is assigned to a particular park for the whole season.

The best way to make sure the hunts are as humane as possible is to “make sure you have skilled hunters,” Monroe says. To be approved for the program, bowhunter must pass an archery test and attend a two-hour safety session.

Bowhunters must follow strict rules: Hunters have to be 50 feet from trail systems and 100 feet from park boundaries. They are only allowed to shoot dear that are standing still. The hunting must be done from tree stands at least 12 feet high. The use of baiting or scents is not allowed, although hunters can use horns. Each group has to purchase $1 million in liability insurance, which costs about $230 a year.

Hunters must record details of every deer shot, including the weight, sex, and injuries. Each arrow has a unique code and must be accounted for and recovered. Approved hunters receive a county permit and parking pass that must be visible in their cars during a hunt.

Most of the meat from harvested deer goes to food banks for the needy. A small amount goes to the volunteers, and coyotes and foxes usually get some, too. It’s a crime to sell deer meet to the public.

Other ways of controlling deer, such as fertility controls, are too costly and are less effective, Monroe says. With that method, deer have to be tranquilized and given an injection by hand every year, at a cost of $500 to $1,000 per deer. 


  1. This is the same deer management plan they came up with in 1998 and it didnt work then...why would they use it again and again every year with the same results!

    It's time the Wildlife Biologist does her job and finds alternative ways to solve deer issues other than her plan to try to kill them all. I, nor any member of my family, will be able to enjoy time at any of the 20 parks, the county has chosen, for almost 6 months of the year. I don't care what they tell us...shooting at deer, whether by guns or bow and arrow are not 100% accurate! I'll also think twice before I vote for budget increases for any more money to go towards the Parks and Recreation Dept. if I don't even have access to them for half of the year. Please tell me the Board of Supervisors did not approve this ridiculous plan again! And please research the myth that Fairfax County is over populated with deer or archery is humane, before writing another article. My last comment....I'd be running into traffic, too, if I were being shot at!

  2. Look at some of the words used here to describe ruthless killing of an innocent sentient animal for fun: "harvested," "management."

    This plan has been failing for at least 10 years. Unfortunately Vicky puts up a front about being open to hearing new ideas. But it became clear that their plans were set well in advance of their public meetings.

    Archery is humane? Please, this is just a scheme for generating revenue for the parks.

  3. Monroe has been deaf to anything except lethal management of deer. This has resulted in an endless annual cycle of months of slaughter in which deer are wounded and killed by Monroe’s bow-hunting cronies. Nature abhors a vacuum and deer reproduce at a higher rate following the slaughter. Our Fairfax County parks are not safe for deer or humans. Our County has become a model of bad public policy.

  4. There is a need to control the population of deer in this area, no argument. But this is not deer management. Bow hunting is not going to stop deer mating or fawns being born.

    I cannot understand what Fairfax County is thinking. Killing a few deer every year is not solving the problem - if it did then there would no longer be a need for the hunts.

    I believe it was Albert Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Fairfax County and Vicky Monroe are living in some fantasy world and they need to join the 21st century and use some new ideas and methods to control the deer.

  5. Whoever says that killing off some deer is necessary...., is either ignorant or has absolutely no knowledge of wildlife biology!
    I cannot believe that anyone reputable would spread such outright misinformation about deer populations.
    Any respected wildlife biologist knows that hunting spurs reproduction, and that deer are typically managed for maximum sustained yield (MSY), specifically in order to provide hunters with a good "crop" of deer for "harvesting," for which the state wildlife agencies are rewarded with the sale of hunting licenses.
    The rules for the hunt are stupid: who will monitor to make sure that a deer is not shot at while moving, for example? Will every hunter have an assigned guardian angle, making sure he foloows all the rules?
    There is no such thing as "humane as possible" when it comes to killing deer - bowhunting, especially, which is the most cruel of blood sports, belongs back in the Middle Ages. This is the 21st Century, if anyone has forgotten, and hunters are behaving like a bunch of pretend Robin Hoods, merrily using deer as live targets and pin cushions for recreation!
    This whole article sounds like a tactical war declared on deer, wildlife that is purposely being propagated for the enjoyment of hunters and the filling of coffers for the state wildlife agency!
    BTW - I question tha statistics listed on wounding rates of deer - were those deer wounded and eventually found dead? How many got away to live longer than in the immediate aftermath of the hunt, moving on elsewhere, dying of infection/starvation, etc.? Depending on where they were hit, they can live amazingly long and agonizing weeks, months and even a year. Most bowhunters don't want to let on how bad they are and therefore never report a deer that "got away". Nationally, bowhunting wounding rates are 50%-55%.

  6. I love the way you anti deer hunting nuts are so uneducated...Get a life losers..Educate yourself before spewing your ignorance..