A federal judge has approved plans to use sharpshooters to cull the bulging deer population at Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Wednesday's decision rejects a lawsuit filed by several animal-rights groups.
The National Park Service plans to begin the nighttime hunt next month.
U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg says it's clear the park is overrun with white-tail deer, causing damage to the park's vegetation and habitat.
Goldberg says there's no evidence the park service decision was capricious or arbitrary.
Animal-rights activists say the park should be maintained by natural means.
The "natural means" the animal rights activists want? Coyotes.
Now, animal-rights advocates are arguing that the number of coyotes in Valley Forge should be encouraged to grow, as a way to provide a predatory check on the deer and eliminate any cause for gunfire.This sounds like an awesome idea. Really:
"It would serve as a natural form of population control," said Matthew McLaughlin, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Friends of Animals.
the Pennsylvania chapter of Friends of Animals has begun a campaign called the Coyote Coexistence Initiative, an outgrowth of a lawsuit the group filed last year to try to stop the deer shoots. That suit, still active, helped delay the first kill for a year.
One of the Friends' arguments is that park officials did not fully consider the role of natural predators - specifically coyotes - in maintaining a stable deer population. The initiative seeks to promote respect for coyotes as important players in the environment and to reduce what has been a dramatic increase in the number of coyotes killed in Pennsylvania.
Friends leaders say the park does not exist in isolation - it must be evaluated as part of the larger biosystem. If coyotes were allowed to increase statewide, the animals would likely also increase inside the park, helping to limit the deer, they said.
"We can't look at the coyotes in a five-mile park as in a vacuum," said Lee Hall, vice president of legal affairs for the Friends.
No seriously: this sounds like a great idea. I'm sure the coyote will know instinctively that they are a.) to remain inside the Park boundaries and b.) leave the neighborhood pet population alone:
Park officials say it wouldn't work - certainly not fast enough to help a forest that's being devoured by deer. Next month, park managers intend to proceed with a plan to eliminate 86 percent of the deer during the next four years.Even though the animal rights activists don't think beyond the rights of Bambi, it is a well-known fact that the white-tailed deer is on of the most destructive animals in Pennsylvania when it comes to hindrances of forest regeneration. If the trees as not allowed to grow for the sake of an overlarge deer population, the forests and other various fauna of Valley Forge will not be allowed to regenerate; the deer will starve, and what deer survive will leave the park in search of better feeding grounds: crossing the turnpike and 422 to get to peoples' gardens.
Do animal rights activists ever consider the deers' impact on the ecosystem? Or is this a one way street?