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Tell the US Government: No Guns, No Drugs in the Parks!

September 26, 2009 | Deer

By Lee Hall

PA Deer Demo
Maryanne Appel of CARE and Matt McLaughlin of FoA-Pennsylvania at Friends of Animals' Third Vigil for the Deer of Valley Forge.

Friends of Animals' Third Vigil for the Valley Forge Deer took place on an overcast Saturday just west of Philadelphia. A group of concerned local people educated Valley Forge National Historical Park visitors that the National Park Service wants to control the deer with sharpshooters and pharmaceuticals beginning this winter.

The government has decided that if there were only a few less deer -- say, 80% less -- there'd be no need to worry about the newly planted saplings, no complaints from nearby homeowners that deer come over and eat their ornamental plants, and so forth. Federal park officials recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement that proposes to shoot 80% and pharmaceutically control the survivors.

But the deer population in the park has decreased over the last five years, not increased.

Gregg Lammey, who attended National Parks Day and then came to the vigil, lives a stone's throw from the five-mile park. "I have plants around my home, and of course I see deer," said Gregg. "Caring about your garden doesn't mean killing deer. I'm here to say that you can live near the park and have both."

The Park itself has many non-native plants and plenty of artificial structures. To blame the deer for offending the forest regeneration work is disingenuous.

And while the government tries to scare us all about Chronic Wasting Disease, there is no such disease in the deer of Pennsylvania. Indeed, the blatantly wrong thing to do would be to decrease the deer population artificially, thereby leaving a vacuum for other deer to fill.

Friends of Animals, together with the locally based group CARE, are filing a suit to head off the federal government's violent and intrusive plans.

Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, is proposing a similar action against the deer there. Friends of Animals' DC office will submit detailed public comments opposing the plan.

Even where animal populations are increasing, this is due to our own encroachment (pressing free-living animals into ever smaller spaces) and the removal of predators by allowing people to hunt or trap them. The Pennsylvania Game Commission currently treats coyotes as vermin. Yet they are capable predators when hunting in pairs or groups.

We are pressing for respect for animals to balance themselves "“ which they do, despite our constant pressure and interference.

Hands off the Valley Forge Deer!

Special thanks to Maryanne Appel, Steve Appel, Deanna Calderaio, Christine Carney, Wilson Geiger and Allison Memmo Geiger, Greg Lafontaine, Gregg Lammey, Matt McLaughlin, and Char Padworny.


As a grandmother, I want my grandchildren to inherit a country where ALL life is revered, where ALL creatures are respected for their individuality and not put under these types of false controls. I also want them to be able to go to our national parks without guns being allowed there. They should be beautiful, pristine places that are safe for ALL life. I don't want my grandchildren to only be able to see these places and the wildlife that live there as pictures in books, because they have been decimated.

Respect for life is the issue. All living, sentient beings merit this respect and their freedom. Everything else is criminal and a violation of life.

Wow, I wish they had publicized this more (or at all). I would have come out, and I know lots of others who would have come out, too.

I want my grandchildren to have a world as I did, where all animals have a right to live just as people do.

Animals: they have as much or possibly more right than we do to live on the land they have always called their home. People need to quit taking it away, and if they can't, finding a need to just kill them instead. How cruel, unfair and unjustified. Just because a person has a plant or flower or veg a deer may nibble on - is that such a crime as to rule death? Would we kill a person for pulling a flower from a garden? No, we would find a way to deter that behavior. There are ways to live with our fellow animals. It takes a little work and time to make it manageable, but that shouldn't stop people from making a situation agreeable to all.

As Valley Forge is a national park, funded by federal monies, I feel I must weigh in on the National Park Service's disturbing "nibbled sapling solution" (which essentially entails killing 80% of the deer involved). I am a resident of Evergreen, Colorado, where the deer and elk almost outnumber and come close to literally controlling us "human-folk", a fact which is clearly CELEBRATED. The traffic stops on an HOURLY, not daily, basis, to let them cross, and now, with mating season having just commenced, the bugling happens at shrieking (and I mean SHRIEKING) levels at every and all hours of the morning...and folks simply adapt and enjoy. Evergreen encompasses about 130 square miles of pine and aspen-laden hills, featuring subdivisions, shopping centers, parking lots, paved roads, parks, and yes, trees, and potted plants...and guess what? The foliage is lush, gorgeous, colorful (hence the coined name "Evergreen"- as in, "GREEN") and... it is PLENTIFUL! This is despite the fact that hundreds upon hundreds of families of deer and elk are neighbors of the roughly 30,000 human inhabitants of this city. These furry, four legged's are so commonly seen, even encouraged, that they're often featured on the 5 o'clock news as one of the main sources of traffic stalls, as routine as a fender-bender. And because they can't read, no one bothers with a "KEEP OFF THE GRASS" sign...we just enjoy the magnificent presence of these beautiful, peaceful animals as they pass through, we marvel at the miracle of how plants, trees, and all other foliage does what it was CREATED to do- which is GROW BACK- and we don't interfere with nature. We live our lives, we allow the wildlife to live theirs, and everyone lives in harmony. Guests passing through remark on how Evergreen is one of the most beautiful and lush places they've ever visited...if you don't believe me- go to the Chamber of Commerce website. If you'd like to know just how many (approximate) "four-legged's" inhabit our forests, contact the Division of Wildlife, 'bet you'd be surprised. 'Point is, there's no shortage of Bambi's running about, and by NO means are our lawns, meadows, or forests, threadbare. As a former resident of D.C., I'm ashamed and embarrassed to read of a planned approach for Rock Creek Park that is similar to that of Valley Forge. The [PA and D.C. Divisions of the] National Parks Service could take some notes from how the Evergreen Division of Wildlife and rangers are running things: an absence of killing and plenty of respect for animals...which includes crosswalks, flashing road signs warning of areas heavily frequented by Bambi and his family, and even the famous and ubiquitous bumper stickers that almost every local owns and displays, reading, "GOT ELK?".

It's very important to get as much publicity as possible regarding the proposed deer kill and resultant lawsuit, so more people could come out and protest the atrocity that might take place in Valley Forge Park this winter. Public education of alternative methods to control the deer population needs to go hand in hand with the protest. Also, I would like to know when these protests will occur in the near future so I might participate.

This issued 1 Oct. 2009: The National Park Service (NPS) is extending the public comment period through November 2, 2009, for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Whitetailed Deer Management Plan for Rock Creek Park (Washington, DC). Friends of Animals will submit comments on 9 Oct. 2009, ahead of the new deadline, offering other people a chance to review our comments and consider them when writing. Friends of Animals, seeing that the rush to impose deer control in national parks is a pattern and that it is based on outdated, ecologically dangerous, and ethically unsound views about humanity's role in biocommunities, will recommend that the NPS take no management action and instead allow the deer to flourish and control their numbers according to what the Park ecology sustains.

What about the wildlife that aren't in the park because of the deer. Like ground feeding and mid-story forest birds. Do they not have a right to be there? The deer have destroyed their habitat by consuming it. What about the trees? Do they not have a right to reproduce? The deer consume all of their offspring!! What about the deer themselves? Their food supply is diminished in the park. They are consuming plants that they normally do not eat. Their population is declining, most like out of starvation, most young do not have enough to eat to survive through the winter. Is it alright that they starve? I would rather see the deer shot than starve to death or die from some disease. [Blog editors' note: What National Park is missing squirrels, birds and trees because deer find a salad bowl of food somewhere? Natural mortality is a fact of life for all animals, humans incuded. Not imposing our invasive agenda on what's left of Nature is a sensible, thoughtful action plan. And that means no guns, other weapons or drugs in Parks.]

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