Suit filed to stop deer hunt at Valley Forge


Two animal-rights groups filed a federal lawsuit today to stop a plan to shoot more than 80 percent of the deer at Valley Forge national park, calling it "extreme and shortsighted." The suit also charges that administering birth control to female deer is environmentally unsound, and shooting the deer endangers public safety.Valley Forge officials say the herd has grown too large and destructive, consuming many plants and saplings that the forest cannot regenerate.

Here's more from my Inquirer colleague Jeff Gammage:

The plan to deploy sharpshooters in winter, the season when George Washington's troops suffered at Valley Forge, "is not only an appalling twist on the park's history" but "another sign that the National Park Service has abandoned its century-old mission to strive for parks in which conservation of nature is paramount," the suit said.

The filing by Friends of Animals, a national advocacy group, and Compassion for Animals, Respect the Environment, a West Chester organization known as CARE, was lodged against park Superintendent Michael Caldwell, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the National Park Service as an agency and other NPS officials.

Park officials intend to reduce the herd by 86 percent, from an estimated 1,277 deer to between 165 and 185, during the next four years. Federal employees or contractors are to fire silencer-equipped rifles, mostly at night, at deer lured to areas baited with apples and grain.