WASHINGTON — Facing an unsustainable deer population that continues to grow, officials in Prince William County, Virginia, will ask bowhunters to grab their bows and arrows and participate in a program that is meant to control the population.
County supervisors voted Tuesday to approve a trial archery hunt that will take place later this year at Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge, Locust Shade Park in Triangle and Doves Landing Park in Manassas.
“We will have a selection process for the hunters that will be participating,” said Prince William County Police Capt. Chris Feather. “They will attend safety and awareness meetings. Safety is our foremost concern.”
There will be informational signs placed in the parks, and staff with the county police and parks and recreation departments will be on hand. The bowhunt will be held sometime around November and December when the regular hunting season is typically underway.
“Our plan is to hold these hunts when the facilities would otherwise be closed,” said Feather.
The pilot program is similar to something that was recently held by the Montgomery County Department of Parks in Maryland. The agency held a “pilot archery managed deer hunting program” from late 2015 through early 2016.
The program involved organized hunting groups at Great Seneca Stream Valley Park in Germantown and Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac.
“Deer populations across much of Montgomery County have reached levels that exceed the capacity for sustainability of the natural environment as well as the capacity for tolerance by citizens residing in the county,” the department said on its website.
But not everyone was supportive.
A lawsuit backed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals aimed to stop the program, claiming hunting deer with bows and arrows amounted to animal cruelty. The suit was not successful.
Bowhunting is legal in Maryland and Virginia, with different rules and regulations across the jurisdictions. For instance Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties allow hunting from January through March, but other areas do not.
It is against the law to hunt any animal in D.C.