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UPDATE: Hands off the Deer: Preserving the Peace in Valley Forge

February 10, 2009 | Deer

UPDATE: Click here to see Friends of Animals' full comments, joined by CARE of the Delaware Valley.

A Message From Lee Hall, Legal director of Friends of Animals (8 Feb. 2009) -- Last month, I attended a public meeting held at Valley Forge National Historical Park. It's known historically as a six-month headquarters for George Washington, and, more recently, as a safe haven for deer in suburban Pennsylvania.

With a few dozen other area residents, I watched a public slideshow presentation geared to persuade us to accept agents from the US Department of Agriculture in the five-mile park, with orders to kill the vast majority of the deer over the next four winters, then spend future years controlling the deer with a lab-created birth control substance, most likely leuprolide, a hormone-based formula.

It sounds like a large, chaotic experiment on the grounds of the now-peaceful Valley Forge Park.

The plan was outlined by a biologist. We're expected to defer. Yet the plan isn't right, natural, or needed. It doesn't uphold cultural values or environmental awareness. It's eerie on every level.

Since 2005, the Valley Forge Park deer population has decreased. Still, park officials don't approve of the amount of vegetation this now-stable population is eating. But deer need special concern in decisions involving the ecological balance of a space. Ethically speaking, conscious beings aren't just a factor to erase to solve a perceived problem.

Deer have always eaten native plants, plants that naturally regenerate. Expansion of the Penn Turnpike is a genuine threat to native vegetation with which deer are simply symbiotic.

Moreover, biologists acknowledge that coyotes are beginning to make a comeback. And unlike bigger predators, coyotes could safely exist in a five-mile park. The coyote population will take time to rebound, but this means we should promote their role in the ecosystem of our region.

I call on all Friends of Animals members and supporters, and every reader of this blog, to speak up for Valley Forge Park as a rare safe spot for animal life in the midst of suburban shopping malls and road construction.

To donate to Friends of Animals and support our work dedicated to defending the safety and dignity of the deer, click here. And thank you again for supporting "Alternative A: no action" against the deer.


I support Alt. A - no action against the helpless deer. This is their home and no one elses.

I support Alternative A - taking no action against the deer. We humans have encroached on their habitat.

My husband and I go to Valley Forge Park often. To relax and enjoy a piece of nature and get away from the rush - rush (stress)life of the city and suburbs. Seeing deer, log cabins, trees and grass is what brings a lot of my family and friends to this park. If the population of deer is working, why fix it? In this economy, money could be spent other ways. If there were too many humans in any given area, what would you do? We have agencies and people to help them, but who helps or speaks for the animals? FRIENDS OF ANIMALS! I SUPPORT FRIENDS OF ANIMALS' POSITION IN FULL. I support Alt.A- no action against the deer. Stop messing with MOTHER NATURE.

I support Alt. A- no action. Deer are a part of the GREEN environment.

I support Alt. A! Instead of installing miles and miles of trails, think of the animals for once! They don't hurt anyone, they just graze in the grasses and oh what a beautiful site when riding thru the Park, as they feed with their young.

What next, mandatory human population control? I support Alternative A- no killing of the deer. They have the right to live just as we do.

I support Alt A - no action. Poison geese, kill deer, what is this world coming to? Keep taking their homes, the fields, the woods. As far as I am concerned, the animals are more important than more unnecesary housing or malls. This is a business man's game. Thank you! Please submit this view here (deadline is Tuesday):

I'm with another poster, Darlene A. Scharfschwerdt, leave the deer alone. Whenever there is an animal/mammal overpopulation issue, the first option is to kill. Who makes these decisions? Whoever it is are morons! That includes anyone who votes against Alt. A. There are many other ways to control the deer and all other animal/mammal populations. May be whoever the idiots in charge are should make a decision about the overpopulation of PEOPLE! May be we should start sterilizing the people who have too many kids and are collecting welfare and our tax dollars could then go to protecting the animals who don't have a voice and/or choice?

Nature left alone, manages her own affairs. We are pushing and pushing the wild animals into smaller and smaller areas, and now they need all the help they can get, not and assistance to enjoy their lives as Nature intended and for us to look on and see them there, and marvel at their beauty.

I support Friends of Animals position in full. Other more humane options should be taken to deal with this issue.