Deer Hunt Called Off in Valley Forge National Park

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Deer Hunt Called Off in Valley Forge National Park

By Jeff Gammage on Philadelphia Inquirer, Submitted by Friends of Animals
December 2009

"It's a Victory":
U.S. Officials Call Off Deer-Control Plan at Valley Forge National Park

National Park Service officials have called off this winter’s long-planned and highly controversial deer kill at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Park Superintendent Michael Caldwell confirmed yesterday that the planned shooting of 500 deer would not go forward, as officials evaluate contractual matters and a pending lawsuit by two animal-rights groups. “It’s a victory,” said Michael Harris, who prepared the animal-rights suit as director of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver. “They were going to go out and commence this hunt this winter, and [now] we’ve got our opportunity to have this decided.”

Friends of Animals, a co-plaintiff, is pleased the deer have a “holiday reprieve,” Harris said. He added the group “will continue to fight on their behalf until this illegal plan is fully set aside.”

The plan called for sharpshooters to eliminate at least 1,500 deer in four years - 500 this winter, 500 the next, and between 250 and 300 each in the third and fourth years. That would eradicate 86 percent of a herd that park officials say has grown big and destructive.

…The superintendent declined to comment on the litigation. Friends of Animals and a second group, Compassion for Animals, Respect [for] the Environment, of West Chester, filed suit last month against Caldwell and other park service officials to stop the kill.

Animal advocates met yesterday’s news with delight.