Valley Forge deer hunt set to begin next month

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. - October 5, 2010

Managers at Valley Forge National Historical Park say the "lethal reduction" is needed because the herd has become too big and destructive.

The idea is to eliminate 86% of the herd, from an estimated 1300 deer to fewer than 190, in about four years.

"There's no native forest regenerating in the park and the primary problem is the deer are eating every bit of vegetation in the park," said Deputy Park Superintendent Barbara Pollarine.

Animal rights activists say the shootings are unnecessary and dangerous to people living nearby.

"The mass deer kill has never proven to be effective and we would hope that, someday, they would develop some birth control methods rather than mass slaughter just for the sake of killing animals," said Carmen Ronio of the Montgomery County SPCA.

Park officials called off a hunt last winter, citing the need to evaluate contractual issues and a pending lawsuit by two animal rights groups.

Meantime, many of the people who live in neighborhoods around Valley Forge say they deer are a problem.

"I don't agree with them killing the deer, but they cause a lot of accidents and they eat all the shrubs and all the flowers," said Jennifer Carney.

"I understand it's a problem, but what are you going to do? I don't know a good answer. I know the birth control thing has been studied, but I don't know if it's quick enough. It's not as quick as a bullet," said John Houdret.

This year's hunt will begin in November and end in March.

It will take place in the overnight hours in isolated areas to protect the public.

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