PETA Says Hunter Participating in Montgomery Parks Program Violated Rule
Montgomery Parks says all guidelines and protocols are being followed
Via Montgomery Parks
The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says a hunter taking part in a Montgomery Parks deer management program violated a state rule when he killed an eight-point buck last month.
It’s the latest complaint from PETA about the park system’s first-ever archery deer hunts, which started in September in parts of Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac and Great Seneca Stream Valley Park in Germantown.
Montgomery Parks has long managed deer hunts with hunters using rifles to cut down on the overpopulation of deer in parks. Parks officials have pointed to collisions between deer and vehicles and an uptick of reported cases of Lyme disease as two consequences of deer overpopulation.
In September, a PETA member who lives in Bethesda unsuccessfully filed for a temporary restraining order to stop the archery hunts while her lawsuit alleging the archery hunts violate the state’s animal cruelty statute played out. Jenni James, a lawyer with PETA, said Monday the lawsuit is ongoing in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The PETA lawsuit alleges that hunting using crossbows and vertical bows is less humane than hunting using rifles because it could lead to deer that survive the hunts with significant injuries.
To support PETA’s claims about an illegal kill during the archery hunts, James pointed to records provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of the 63 deer killed since September by two teams of volunteer hunters in both parks. According to the records, one of the hunters in Watts Branch Stream Valley Park harvested a male deer—the buck with eight-point antlers—as his second kill.
An August memo from the DNR established the protocol for the managed hunts, including the rule that each hunter could kill one antlered male deer only after killing two antlerless or female deer.
James said the rule encourages hunters to kill female deer because it is thought to be the more effective way to stop population growth.
Bill Hamilton, natural resources manager for Montgomery Parks, wrote in a prepared response that “all guidelines and protocols are being followed so as to reduce the deer population in accordance with regulation and with the utmost care for safety, ethics and compassion.”
Hamilton wrote that Montgomery Parks will provide a full report on the archery hunting program at the end of the hunting season and after the PETA lawsuit is resolved.
James said the killing of the male deer “proves this hunt is about satisfying hunters, not population control.”
The archery hunts are scheduled to restart in early January.
“It is essential to address deer related impacts, particularly in densely populated communities where culling of deer populations is not possible, or pragmatic using other methods,” Hamilton said. “To date, activities and results of the Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program’s operations have been as anticipated, and as shared with the public prior to, and during implementation.”
A 2014 survey found a deer population of about 67 to 84 deer per square mile in Watts Branch Stream Valley Park. Montgomery Parks says deer-involved vehicle crashes, cases of Lyme disease and other deer-related impacts “are reduced to acceptable levels” when the population density is at 30 or fewer deer per square mile.
According to the DNR records provided by James, 11 of the 63 deer killed by archers so far were males with antlers. Fifty-one of the deer killed were classified as females or anterless males and the remaining deer was classified as a button buck, a male fawn six months old or younger that is just starting to grow antlers.