Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Deer Cull in U.S. Capital Prompts Former Mayor Barry to Urge: 'Don't Kill Bambi'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Deer Cull in U.S. Capital Prompts Former Mayor Barry to Urge: 'Don't Kill Bambi'

Article excerpt

Barry to D.C. deer cullers:'Don't kill Bambi'

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. capital is well-known for being over-run with politicians, lobbyists and diplomats.

But there's another group that's in over-abundance in D.C. and its swaths of leafy parkland -- the white-tailed deer, a familiar sight to almost everyone living in the area.

Following years of study and ongoing uproar, the National Park Service is in the midst of a three-day hunt aimed at dramatically culling deer in the city's Rock Creek Park, a 20-kilometre stretch of dense forest, rocky ravines and winding trails that run alongside a burbling offshoot of the Potomac River.

Like many similar parks in D.C. and its surrounding suburbs, Rock Creek is a veritable deer paradise. The Park Service estimates there are about 30 deer per square kilometre in the park, and is hoping sharpshooters can reduce the herd to about eight per square kilometre.

The deer have had an unlikely ally in Marion Barry, the notorious former D.C. mayor who now sits on city council.

"The NPS will be sharp shooting deer in Rock Creek Park. So wrong," Barry wrote in a tweet earlier this week, using the hashtag #dontkillbambi. "Can they be relocated? I mean the NPS. The deer can stay."

Barry apologized after one of his tweets called the Park Service a condensed version of a vulgar slur. The former mayor told the Washington Post he didn't personally send the tweets.

"The thrust of it was right, the thing that went too far was the (version of the slur)," Barry said. "I have a lot of tweets, some I send out personally and some I send out by staff."

But he added he wasn't backing down from his stance on the cull: "There has to be a better way to manage the deer population."

Advocates of the deer cull have long argued it's necessary to control tick outbreaks and protect vegetation -- the deer feast on tree seedlings, not to mention the flower and vegetable gardens of vexed home-owners.

They also insist that thinning the herd is humane, given deer are forced into more dangerous, urbanized areas if over-crowded.

Dozens of deer are killed every year along the city's roadways, particularly on the well-travelled Rock Creek Parkway running north from the Lincoln Memorial into the Maryland suburbs. …

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