Police sharpshooters have begun killing deer in Montgomery County Park, Maryland, in a misguided attempt to reduce the resident deer numbers. Often touted as a “humane” method, unsuspecting and innocent deer are being shot by snipers, in a war-like scenario.
Horror stories about suffering deer brutally wounded by bow hunters, sharpshooters and other gunners surface every day, with deer seen stumbling around with arrows protruding from their faces and other parts of their bodies, and wounded deer wandering off after being shot, only to die hours or days later in someone’s backyard.
Most of the cruelties inflicted on deer never come to the public’s attention because these acts against these gentle and innocent ungulates are mostly committed at night when the public is not around, or they occur in areas closed off to the public during those ridiculous and cruel slaughters.
A recent incident shows just how inhumane these government-orchestrated “urban hunts” really are. On February 23, 2013, a resident walking in the woods near Brookside Gardens/Wheaton Stables was horrified to find a doe with her jaw ripped open. According to a former hunter familiar with deer culling operations, the wound was caused by a “small caliber exploding bullet” from a gun most likely used by Montgomery County Park Police sharpshooters. The hiker had come to photograph wildlife and instead witnessed an appalling, gruesome scene with a frightened, suffering doe.
Not only did the shooter not follow the injured deer to put her out of her misery, but even after repeated calls and pleads by another resident, Montgomery County Park Police initially refused to come out to end the deer’s suffering. In fact, the dispatcher even laughed when he heard about the injured deer!
The violence and callousness with which urban deer are treated is unacceptable and should not be tolerated! These animals have done nothing wrong and they deserve better.
Killing deer does not achieve desired results, and paradoxically increases deer numbers due to deer’s adaptive reproductive capability. For example, in January 2011, the city of Solon, Ohio reported that after spending more than a half million dollars from 2005 to 2008 on sharpshooters to reduce the deer population, the number of deer rebounded 54 percent within the following three years.
Montgomery County needs a deer management program, not a deer extermination program. The use of fertility control for free-roaming deer has been documented for at least two decades through the use of safe and effective immunocontraception. Contrary to your Deer Management Working Group’s findings, appropriate road signage and fencing at key areas along roadways, plus the application of highly effective deer repellants on vegetation, will be far more effective than killing deer.
The issue of high deer numbers is a human-caused problem and needs a humane and effective long-term solution. Deer deserve better than serving as living targets.