Two hours after reading that the people in a Leesburg neighborhood have "have long complained of deer trampling manicured lawns, eating flowers and ruining community landscaping," I heard a radio report regarding the best way to control the deer population in Rock Creek Park. The spokesperson mentioned four possible means of control including doing nothing, fencing particular plants, adopting birth control measures and killing by sharp-shooting and/or trapping and humanely euthanizing them.
As a means of deer population control In Defense of Animals (IDA) suggests--
- Remove vegetation from roadsides to reduce the attractiveness of roadside areas to deer.
- Prevent deer from eating yard plants and trees by installing fencing.
- Protect individual trees with mesh and netting.
- Contact a nursery to find out what types of netting are effective.P
- Plant native plants tolerant of deer browsing.
- Plant plants that repel deer through smell and taste.
- Use flashing lights or loud noises to startle deer away.
These seem like good ideas to me. Killing the deer, especially in a cruel, barbaric manner like bow-hunting, is not a long-term solution, in fact, it's not even a temporary solution. IDA points out that:
allowing hunters to kill more does, however, does not resolve population problems. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the open hunting of does left fawns without mothers, and removed too many females from the breeding population. Sport hunting decimated deer populations in many states. As a result, states passed laws restricting the hunting of does. These policies have contributed to the overpopulation of deer.
Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate.
Fact is, there are a lot of people and a lot of deer. Somehow, the people must figure out how to live with the deer. We might lose a few plants in the process, but we will lose deer -- and much more -- if our way of dealing with the problem depends on bows, arrows and guns.