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Let coyotes, not hunters, control Valley Forge deer, animal-rights advocates say

October 18, 2010 | Deer

By Jeff Gammage
Inquirer Staff Writer

Deer graze in Valley Forge Park...

For months they've run on the periphery of the debate over the plan to shoot deer at Valley Forge national park: Coyotes.

A small number have taken residence inside the park, among the "urban coyotes" that dwell in places from New York to Chicago to Beverly Hills, Calif.

Now, animal-rights advocates are arguing that the number of coyotes in Valley Forge should be encouraged to grow, as a way to provide a predatory check on the deer and eliminate any cause for gunfire.

"It would serve as a natural form of population control," said Matthew McLaughlin, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Friends of Animals.

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Anybody who deals with wildlife (especially deer) know that coyotes are an ineffective predator. They may kill fawns or sick and injured deer but they can't take down adult and healthy deer.

If they "may kill fawns or sick and injured deer" then they are effective enough. Recall that the deer population in the Park peaked at about 1400 in 2003, according to an environmental impact study, and has decreased since then. The standard for a balanced biocommunity is not reflected by the carnage that can be inflicted in short order by a team of sharpshooters on a contract with the USDA.


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