- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

D.C. residents living in upper Northwest are complaining that an influx of deer inhabiting Rock Creek Park are overrunning their neighborhoods.
"The deer are all over Chevy Chase and seem to be growing in number," said Lorrie Scally of Chevy Chase.
Several deer have been hit by cars this year, and more and more are appearing in the streets, on residents' front lawns and in all areas of Rock Creek Park.
"Unfortunately, two weeks ago, another deer was killed while crossing Blagden Avenue," said D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat.
Mr. Fenty's ward has seen the largest increases in sightings and accidents. He said he has received numerous calls and e-mails from residents in Chevy Chase and Crestwood about the deer-population boom.
"One of the concerns I have repeatedly heard from the many neighborhoods that border the park is that deer are not monitored by the National Park Service," Mr. Fenty said.
"My neighbor's back yard does not even abut the park, and we are at least a quarter-mile away," said Victor Reid, who saw a doe and her two fawns playing in the yard next to his house in Northwest.
Counting and controlling the deer population is a tricky process in the District.
"We do keep deer counts, but there is no accurate way to count the number of deer in a heavily forested area, only estimate," said Laura Illige, chief ranger for Rock Creek Park.
She did say recent data showed that deer may be increasing in number.
Hunting is not an option to control the population because of the city's absolute gun ban. And the Park Service is required to conduct an environmental-impact study before it could begin a population-control program, Mrs. Illige said.
But she said there is a new contraceptive that may work to control the population with one dosage per doe, if it comes to that.
"In the past you would have to [inoculate using dart guns] nearly every deer every year, but with this, you only have to do it once," she said.
The new drug is untested and the Park Service is not sure it will be needed. But deer numbers are rising in parks throughout the metropolitan area.
"As far as I know, this may be a regional problem, with deer becoming more prevalent in the District, Montgomery County and Virginia," she said.
The Park Service is now using radio tracking devices on three deer to study how they move during the seasons or if they migrate around a central location all year round.
She said the Park Service understands the concern of people in the city who obviously are not used to seeing large wildlife.
"I regularly find deer in my semi-fenced back yard in Crestwood. They are eating my plants when there is a whole forest full of food," said Susan Houseman.
But Mrs. Illige said some of the items people plant in their yards such as azalea is "extremely attractive to deer."
"The worst thing you can do is voluntarily feed them," Mrs. Illige said.
Mr. Fenty said he will be monitoring the progress of the Park Service study over the next two months and will determine if a plan is needed to fence off private property or use some means to reduce the deer population.
"Given the number of deer struck by automobiles, this is a public-safety and animal-safety issue," he said.
The Department of Public Works, the agency responsible for picking up dead animals in the city, has not noticed an increase in deer-carcass collections this year, spokeswoman Mary Meyers said.
"We pick up about 10 deer a year. We have picked up a couple recently and we usually see two to three in the fall," Mrs. Meyers said.
But she said her department will not pick up any deer that are struck in Rock Creek Park. "The National Park Service would take care of that," she said.


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