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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.


With all the space that our human community has taken up in the areas surrounding the park, I belive it is incumbent upon us to allow the deer this five-square-mile stretch of land to use as their haven, a place where they can live in peace and harmony amongst themselves. I commend Friends of Animals and all of their supporters for speaking up on behalf of these gentle, unobtrusive creatures who have no voice to speak for themselves.

The people on this earth are always taking away from the animals that live here. We need to leave them alone. It's their earth just as much as it is ours. If you want to kill the animals, why don't you kill the people? There are too many of them. Leave the animals alone! [Blog editors' note: We understand your comment to mean the human population is growing very quickly in the Valley Forge area, and in general, yet no one is putting out a public comment form on whether we should shoot them and involutarily sterilize the survivors. That point is important.]

The above comment is succinct and states precisely what needs to be said. Hands off the precious deer please!

Other options should be examined instead of slaughtering the deer. I'm personally tired of humans believing they have the right to take over every inch of this planet, and in the mean time, having no regard for the lives of other living creatures. I support Alternative A: no action. Thank you! Please submit this view here (deadline is Tuesday):

Please consider the "Do Nothing" alternative as carefully outlined by Friends of Animals. This is a conservative, thoughtful organization which recommends AGAINST the other measures currently being considered as ineffective, inhumane, and intrusive even to the human residents. Let's leave our precious friends, when well enough, alone. Thank you.

Stop tearing down the forests. The deer need their homes!

This is despicable; the deer aren't bothering anyone and we, as humans, should not interfere with their way of life. These animals need a place of their own to perpetuate the wildlife and natural vegetation that grows there and has been there for decades. Don't agitate something that's not broken. Thank you for your time and consideration. Thank you! Please submit this view here (deadline is Tuesday):

Please stop taking the land away from these animals.They were here a long time.Leave them alone.The goverment has been taking and killing animals when ever they please,just so they can have the land.Don't kill these beautiful animals.

New article by Jeff Gammage, Philadelphia Inquirer page B1 Sun, Feb. 15, 2009 "Valley Forge park plans huge deer shoot"

This is a disgrace. First it was the geese, now the deer. The animals inhabited this earth prior to humans and now they want to eradicate this life form. I live 2 miles from the Park and enjoy seeing them frolicking with their young. Don't mess with mother nature!