Animal Rights Collective Blog

Fairfax County VA Allows Deer Bow Hunting as Management Technique by christine

ISSUE: Fairfax County, the largest, most prosperous County in northern Virginia (which borders Washington , D.C.), plans to turn its public parks into canned hunts for bow hunting beginning November 14th. After sneaking plans past public scrutiny, the Park Authority plans to initiate bow hunting in Colvin Run Park, and expand it to other Fairfax County Parks.

“Bow hunting is exceedingly cruel. Many deer who are shot are merely wounded by arrows. Bow hunters routinely spend hours tracking the blood trails of deer struck by arrows before finding them. Three decades of research tells us that for every one or two animals struck by arrows and retrieved by bow hunters, another wounded animal disappears, never to be found. And mass killings tear apart families, leaving young and weak animals vulnerable to starvation, dehydration, and predators. Also, lethal methods of wildlife control don’t reduce the population in the long run. As long as the areas of concern remain attractive and accessible to these animals, more will move in from surrounding areas to fill the newly vacant niche. In addition, killing individuals can result in a spike in the food supply and prompt remaining does to breed, causing the population to increase.” – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Non-lethal control methods could include immuno-contraception administered via darting.

Friends of Animals Condemns Fairfax County’s Actions Against White-Tailed Deer

For Immediate Release: 07 December 2009

Fairfax, VA — Local representatives for Friends of Animals, an advocacy organization founded in 1957, will be speaking at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting today in opposition to the bowhunting of white-tailed deer at Colvin Run and Laurel Hill. County officials have contracted with a volunteer bowhunting group in an attempt to control the deer populations.

“Does our tendency to spread into suburban areas give us a right to kill, control or otherwise dominate wildlife,” questioned Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals. “Have the deer turned Fairfax County into strip malls, parking lots and interstate pavements? Have the deer procreated beyond nature’s ability to sustain them? No, we’re attacking other animals with no genuine reason or logic.”

With only a two-day notice, 270 residents in Colvin Run were notified that park officials had scheduled a bowhunt in their area. The public outcry has been swift. County officials have attempted to reassure its residents that the bowhunters are well-trained, however, because the county is using volunteer archers, many locals are understandably wary.

Bowhunting is not humane or particularly effective. In fact, bowhunters admit they routinely strike deer but do not kill them [1]. It can take days for wounded deer to be recovered, if they are recovered at all. Oftentimes, the animals are still alive once found. When a wounded deer escapes, the animal is left with a painful injury, one which may lead to a serious infection. In addition, residents are also in danger, as vehicle-to-deer accidents increase during these culls.

Added Feral, “Bowhunting is a repulsive, violent assault on animals who should be let alone. A deeper question is whether we should be in control of the deer population at all. Whether by amateurs or even expert archers, the deer pay simply because humans encroach on land needed by free-living animals.”

The Colvin Run hunt, which began 14 November, is expected to continue through 16 January. The Laurel Hill hunt began on 30 November and is expected to continue until 30 January.


What You Can Do

ACTION: Please call or email both Sharon Bulova and John Dargle, Jr. immediately. Please mention that you and your friends, family members and children enjoy the parks and do not want to be exposed to the horrors of bow hunting (see more talking points below the list of additional officials).

Sharon Bulova, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Email: ( | Tel: 703-324-2321

John Dargle, Jr., Director of Fairfax County Park Authority ( | Tel: 703-324-8702

Petition: Urge Virginia Officials to End Cruel Bow Hunt

EXTRA HELP: If you want to go the extra mile to help the deer and our surrounding population, please call or email one or two, or all of the officials listed below.  (All email addresses end in )

Fairfax County Executive, Anthony Griffin, (703) 324-2536

Supervisor John Foust (703) 356-0551(Dranesville District)

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (703) 478-0283 (Hunter Mill District)

Supervisor Michael Frey (703) 814-7100 (Sully District)

Supervisor Linda Smyth (703) 560-6946(Providence District)

Supervisor Jeff McKay (703) 971-6262 (Lee District)

Supervisor Penelope Gross (703) 256-7717 (Mason District)

Supervisor Gerald Hyland (703) 780-7518 (Mount Vernon District)

Supervisor John Cook (703) 425-9300 (Braddock District)

Supervisor Pat Herrity (703) 451-8873 (Springfield District)

TALKING POINTS: Please be polite and use these talking points in your call or email:

  • Bow hunting is dangerous and unpredictable; visitors to the parks and residents of the surrounding area can be injured by this brutal activity.
  • Even the “best” bow hunters almost never kill the deer immediately.  The hunter waits 45 minutes to an hour for the deer to run, bleed out and become exhausted. Then, the hunter attempts to follow the blood trail to find the deer and finish killing it, often in front of children and visitors to the park.
  • It exposes children and impressionable adults to extraordinary animal cruelty and teaches them that killing animals is OK – mental health officials and the FBI consider cruelty to animals a precursor to more violent crimes against humans who are perceived as vulnerable; is that the lesson we want our children to learn?
  • Bow “hunters” are often inexperienced and have a high rate of injuring, rather than killing deer, leaving them to die a slow, agonizing death; many deer can be seen fleeing with arrows piercing their limbs and organs.
  • There is no way to know how far the deer will run, if she will die, what injury will occur, if she will die over weeks, or run into backyards and roads, and die a painful death.
  • It causes a public safety hazard: panic-stricken animals often flee their pursuers, running into roads causing car accidents.
  • It serves no purpose; the deer return in subsequent years to breed and multiply; nature abhors a vacuum
  • It makes Fairfax County and the metropolitan Washington , D.C. area look cruel, barbaric and primitive to the rest of the world.
  • This is not rural park area; this is within densely populated, urban land.

5 Comments so far
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Minor correction: Fairfax County does not border Washington DC. They are separated by Arlington County and the City of Alexandria.

Comment by swdhj

… and then Bambi runs after her, calling out “Mother? Mother? … Mother?”

Comment by rhuthentuthen

going outside is dangerous. Please everyone stay inside accidents happen and stuff.

Comment by Dave McKennith

In establishing the specific management plan to use for future deer population control, I looked at one specific managed hunt developed and created by the professionals at the Missouri Department of Conservation. This plan is called “the Fellows Lake Managed Archery Deer Hunt”, and it is a 9 page document outlining all the pertinent details in establishing an effective hunt. I chose this specific study, as it mirrors our particular situation quite closely. The location for this hunt is the Metro area of Springfield, which is quite similar to our Urban St. Louis sprawl. Further, the MDC chose archery as the safest and most ethical means of eliminating the deer herd. Finally, the habitat in Fellows Lake is quite similar to the habitat of St. Vincent Park. All of these things make this specific deer management proposal ideal for our purposes.

This specific management proposal plan created several requirements for the hunters that would be used in the process. All of these requirements ensured that the managed hunt would be the most safe, ethical, and effective process possible while helping to ensure peace of mind among the Springfield area residents. Specifically, here are a few of the requirements for the controlled hunt:

• Only archery equipment will be allowed. Hunters will be required to have taken and successfully passed the Missouri Bow Hunter Education course prior to the pre-hunt meeting. A special section on Urban Bow hunting will be covered.

• A proficiency shooting test will be administered. All hunters will have to score 90% at twenty yards shooting 10 shots.

• Only ladders and steps that do not damage the tree will be allowed.

• Hunters must wear an approved safety harness at all times.
• Only lethal broad-heads will be used.

• Deer must be covered with a tarp or approved equal prior to removal from the hunt area.

• Based on Hansen where archery deer hunter density for managed hunts has ranged from 13-57 hunters per square mile in Missouri (Hansen 1997), each hunter will be assigned a specific area (approximately 25 acres each) in which they are allowed to hunt.

As you can see, the “Fellows Lake Managed Hunt” was created with all of our concerns in mind. Ethics were addressed by ensuring that only the best and safest hunters are permitted for use. Safety was addressed with regard to concern for both the citizens and the hunters alike. Ecologically, the proposal aimed to do absolutely no harm to the natural flora of the area, by ensuring that equipment used would not damage to the pre-existing trees. Finally, scientific research was conducted prior to the hunt, to establish existing deer numbers, and logistically place hunters in the most effective areas possible.

Comment by Sam Christiansen

I left you a bit of information from my University of Missouri, Campus Honors Enviromental Research Program class final research paper. The class was Urban Ecology and my specific area of research was the population of deer in St. Vincent Park. It is a very Urban park that resembles your situation closely. I see your concerns, but when looked at from a rational perspective and regulated by an organization such as the Conservation Department for your area; the results are a very ethical, safe, and non-invasive method for reducing herd numbers.

Comment by Sam Christiansen

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