.

Council Deadlocked Over Deer Hunting, Instead Will Ban it Completely

Councilmembers evenly split over issue, don’t have majority needed to move forward.

Wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe addresses the Fairfax City Council about a deer management program to address the overpopulation. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut)
Wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe addresses the Fairfax City Council about a deer management program to address the overpopulation. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut)

After revisiting the idea of allowing limited deer hunting on large tracts of land within the city limits during its meeting Tuesday night, the Fairfax City Council was unable to come to a consensus on the issue, and therefore decided to ban the practice outright instead.

The council first discussed the issue at its June 11 meeting, when Fairfax City Police Chief Rick Rappoport advised the council that an extreme overpopulation of deer caused many hazards to the community, including an increase in deer-vehicle collisions, damage to property, damage to other animals and native plants, and even starvation of the deer themselves due to not enough food to go around.

The council discussed the possibilities of allowing controlled hunts with both archery and sharpshooting to help tame the population, but could not come to a consensus and ended up asking City staff to come back with more data on safety, alternative methods of controlling the population, migration patterns of deer in and out of the area, and other questions.

This week, Chief Rappoport brought with him wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe, who consults with Fairfax County on its deer management program, to give a thorough presentation that backs up the police department’s recommendation that the City allow controlled hunts by archery on tracts of land of 25 acres or more.

Monroe presented several facts to communicate the assertion that the local area has a big problem with overpopulation of deer. She said, an optimum number would be 15 to 20 deer per square mile – but that the local City and County areas currently have an estimated 40 to 100 deer per square mile.

She also said studies are showing that deer in northern Virginia are living twice as long as the average deer across the country. On average, most deer live between 5 and 7 years – locally, they are living between 8 to 12 years.

“Why is that important?” she said. “Because there is no such thing as ‘deer menopause.’ Deer can breed right up to the moment they take their last breath.”

She added, the population of deer in the local area is steadily increasing all the time, with nothing currently limiting it.

“If you don’t think there is a problem now….well, then, the only question is when,” she said.

When asked if there were perhaps any other alternative methods of taming down the local deer population, both Monroe and Chief Rappoport said, effectively, no.

Chief Rappoport said fences are not a logical option because they need to be, at minimum, seven feet tall to keep deer out, as the average deer can jump at least six feet in the air, and fences that tall are not only aesthetically unpleasant, but can clash with City zoning issues. As for “deer repellants,” he said they enjoy limited success and are costly, and constantly require replenishment.

Both Monroe and Rappoport argued that managed archery hunts are the best option they have found because they are cost-effective, “enjoy public support” for the most part, and even help local shelters since most hunters will donate meat from the deer they kill. Rappoport said archery is also quieter than shooting, and it is easy to track and accurately account for all shots taken with arrows.

“You definitely have a deer management issue. I would strongly recommend you address this now, before you have your first deer-human fatality, or you at least see a spike in deer-vehicle collisions,” Monroe told the council.

Mayor Scott Silverthorne said that kind of statement made him nervous.

“I don’t want to be disingenuous. Let’s be clear - that risk will never completely go away. I don’t want to promise something we can’t deliver,” he said, to which Monroe and Rappoport agreed.

Councilmember Michael DeMarco said he was “still not convinced the City had a problem” when Monroe and Rappoport’s “anecdotal data” indicates managed hunts only yield two kills each on average, and that there have only been about a half-dozen deer-vehicle accidents in the city over the past few years. Again, he asked for more data from the City to support the recommendations of having local hunts.

Concerns were also raised over the safety of having hunts in the city’s only two spots that are larger than 25 acres – the Army-Navy Country Club, and Daniels Run Park. To that, Monroe said Fairfax County typically either closes the parks to the public, or conducts the hunts at night when the parks are already closed.

Councilmembers David Meyer and Steve Stombres seemed unconvinced of the safety of such a plan. Meyer said it seemed to him that Fairfax City’s unique geography and needs make it too difficult to apply the same plan as Fairfax County uses.

Both Councilmembers Ellie Schmidt and Jeff Greenfield appeared to support the idea of allowing limited hunting by archery, and in fact, Greenfield suggested that limiting it to only the two properties of 25 acres or more might be too conservative to effectively deal with the problem.

All in all, that left the council at a 3-3 deadlock, which Mayor Silverthorne said meant the council did not have the majority needed to move forward with such an amendment.

Though Mayor Silverthorne suggested Chief Rappoport try again and come back to another meeting with more data that could potentially convince the three dissenting councilmembers, the Chief disagreed.

“I don’t know that we can provide a level of data that you’re requiring. I don’t know what else we can add to this,” Rappoport said.

Therefore, the Council asked City staff to begin drafting an ordinance that would outright ban hunting within Fairfax City limits, in order to be completely clear to residents what is and is not allowed.

Chief Rappoport said he would be happy to come back and revisit the idea of allowing limited hunting with the Council at a future date, should they wish to do so.

What do you think of the City’s decision to outrightly ban deer hunting, instead of drafting an ordinance that would allow it in limited means? Tell us in the comments below.


FOLLOW FAIRFAX CITY PATCH FOR THE LATEST NEWS AND EVENTS!

Facebook | Twitter | Daily & Breaking News E-mail Updates

Anne Barton July 11, 2013 at 08:58 AM
Congratulations to the council for not being manipulated by the misleading report they received. What the council needs to do is to invite the Humane Society of the US in to talk about the real alternatives to violent methods - immunocontraception
Jeff Pearl July 11, 2013 at 09:47 AM
Deer hunting will still be done, even if it with cars. I expect to see a lawsuit filed against that council. They obviously ignored the important issues like the health of the deer population, and the health of the citizens. When the council members and their kids contract Lyme Disease and become unable to drive and work, then maybe they will face reality. And when a case of Wasting Disease breaks out in Fairfax, and a mandatory killing of all deer must take place in order to stop the spread, then maybe they will face reality. hunting is healthy for both the human population, and the deer population, and the sooner you put a annual hunting season in place, the better it will be for everyone.
Robert Reinsel July 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Lunch time June 30 3203 Armory Ct https://plus.google.com/photos/113291327661800738715/albums/5899394477874193905?partnerid=gplp0
elissa myers July 11, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Bravo to the Mayor and Council members of the Fairfax City Council for their rational response to this proposal. So much of the argument in favor of culling is hyperbolic and anecdotal -- and, if reported accurately, some is patently false. In Wakefield Park and the Accotink Stream Bed there are fewer than 15 deer per square mile and I challenge Animal Control to demonstrate otherwise. Further, the archery hunting is typically done from Early September through Mid February, from before dawn until after dusk -- and signs posted by the officials running the program so state. If we are going to debate the issues without regard to the morality of the question, then at least let the facts be accurate and truthful.
Lisa Qualls July 11, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I am so proud of Fairfax for not approving the killing! I feel this is a step toward a more civilized society. Killing is not the answer. Humans need to learn to share space with our fellow earthlings. We cannot keep tearing down nature/taking homes from our fellow animals, and then blaming them for "overpopulating". No, they are not overpopulated; we are. It is also silly to claim that deer are a safety risk to humans, so we should kill them. If a human is killed by a deer there is no reason to do something about it. People die. If a deer kills a person it will either be by accident or self-defense. Not a crime. Deer are not out there trying to kill anyone. There is no valid reason to villainize deer.
Richard Tammaro July 11, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Few of us in favor of culling the deer population enjoy the fact they will be killed. Most hunters appreciate wildlife more than non-hunters. But the reality is they have to go. If someone thinks they need to be sterilized or some other humane method, get your checkbooks out. Otherwise, let the hunters provide some meals for the hungry. That's how the food chain is engineered to work. I have deer eating plants in my yard at least twice a week.
Reagan Kimball July 11, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Thank you Fairfax for making such a compassionate and just decision. These beautiful creatures deserve the right to live and not be needlessly hunted.
Gary July 11, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Bravo to Fairfax County for making a compassionate and wise decision. There are numerous problems with hunting deer: The deer population rebounds, data shows that deer fleeing hunters cause car wrecks, only in the most perfect storybook scenario do deer hit by arrows die instantly, and now we have one less opportunity for hunters to enjoy killing innocent animals (as they frequently admit in conversations, websites, forums, etc.). We don't need to kill deer to feed the hungry. We can feed far more people by transitioning to a plant-based diet; multiple studies confirm this and a growing number of public health agencies recommend this. Likewise, there are numerous non-lethal ways to deter deer from eating plants in the yard, including not worrying about it. In any case, eating plants from the yard does not merit a death sentence! Let us respect deer, who value their lives like we value ours, and work on curtailing our own population growth and destructive tendencies.
James MidnightRambler July 11, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Another government entity that is not being bullied by anti-deer biologists nor hunter friendly rednecks. Non-lethal methods are safer and effective and getting financially reasonable
Michelle July 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Deer hunting increases deer vehicle collisions. Deer are rarely ever killed instantly through bow hunting and almost always flee either wounded or not hit at all, this causes them to run into streets and alarm other deer that also run into streets. Consider humane methods such as spaying the deer as they are doing in Maryland and having great success with. The officials who are trying to push bow hunting in the city are hunters themselves and couldn't care less about public safety or animal welfare. We must also consider roadside deer warning systems such as Deer Deter which has shown to decrease deer-vehicle collisions more than 90%. This device is solar powered, durable and very affordable. Why doesn't Fairfax consider this with the volume of traffic that we have in our area?
Holly Sternberg July 12, 2013 at 09:42 AM
Many thanks to the Councilmembers for choosing to be merciful to the deer! As we continue to cut down the woods in Fairfax County to make more room for our ever-expanding human population, we need to remember that other animals live here, too, and that they don't deserve to be brutally slaughtered because they are in our way when we choose to drive in vehicles that go much faster than humans could ever run. Or because they eat our decorative plants--really, how cruel and selfish can people be to consider that a reason to kill a hungry animal? We need to respect wildlife, and when we have issues, work to resolve these in the most compassionate way possible--NOT to allow people who get their kicks from killing to wander around terrorizing innocent creatures.
Diane Hopkins, Ph.D. July 12, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Thank you Mayor Silverthorne and members of the Fairfax City Council for your well reasoned vote in opposition to the brutal and barbaric method of dealing with deer which had been proposed. It is great to know that we have reasonable and thoughtful people representing the people of Fairfax City. We will encourage our friends and family to patronize the businesses in this progressive and impressive city. Thank you!
Gary July 12, 2013 at 03:49 PM
As a result of this responsible and humane decision, my family and I are more inclined to spend money in Fairfax County.
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 04:21 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 04:59 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 05:09 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Hurrah for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 07:05 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 08:41 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 08:45 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 12, 2013 at 08:57 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 13, 2013 at 10:12 AM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!
Don Fowler July 17, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I want to thank Mayor Silverthorne and the Fairfax City Council for standing their ground and stopping the ill-conceived and brutal plan to slaughter the deer in our city. There are far more humane and rational methods to deal with these issues. It is far better to work with groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and other true professionals and not with bow hunters and their shills. Three cheers for Fairfax City - a model for us all!

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »