Annual deer hunt to begin in Fairfax County

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The annual effort to control the deer population in Fairfax County starts in about three weeks, when archers start entering county parks.

“The deer management program aims to reduce the population of deer within Fairfax County in order to minimize deer-related impacts such as a high number of deer vehicle collisions that occur annually, as well as environmental damage to many of our parks and natural areas,” said Katherine Edwards, Wildlife Management Specialist with Fairfax County police.

The goal is not to get rid of all deer, but lower their numbers to 15 to 20 per square mile.

Edwards says determining the actual number of deer-vehicle collisions in the county each year is difficult, because they are reported to different entities, if at all.

An average of 111 deer-vehicle collisions were reported each year to Fairfax County police between 2010 and 2017. And preliminarily, Edwards estimates that the Virginia Department of Transportation picks up about 1,500 deer carcasses from county roadsides every year.

Edwards said the actual number of deer-vehicle collisions in the county is probably much higher than either of these figures indicates.

Archery is the county’s main method of deer management, although managed hunts and sharpshooting is used, too.

Strict safety controls mean parks can stay open to the public while archers are working.

“All of the hunting is conducted from an elevated position using the ground as a natural backstop. We do not allow any hunting from the ground level in any Fairfax County park,” she said.

Archers must be highly qualified, complete a training course and undergo a criminal-background check.

The county’s archery program season runs from Sept. 8 through Feb. 23. Hunting is allowed Monday through Saturday only, from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.

Edwards says one common question residents ask is why birth-control methods are not used in place of hunting.

“Fertility control is not approved as a management tool in Virginia by the Department of Game of Inland Fisheries,” she said.

Get answers to frequently asked questions on the deer management site of Fairfax County, as well as hunt locations.

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