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Friday, March 31, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Deer overpopulation presents multiple threats

Letter: Deer overpopulation presents multiple threats

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Editor: The Feb. 24 article [“Views are Mixed on Culling County’s Deer Population”] combines incomplete information and inflammatory statements in an effort to downplay or dismiss the threat that deer overpopulation presents for Arlington’s local natural areas.

In fact, the drone survey conducted by a contractor for the county government found that deer density in Arlington’s Natural Resources Conservation Areas appears to be far higher than the ecosystems can endure without harm, and they recommended aggressive deer management.

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists is an organization of trained volunteers who contribute thousands of hours each year toward protecting our natural areas. We see the damage that the deer are causing in the natural areas where we work with the county and other local jurisdictions to restore habitat.

The loss of the forest understory due to intensive deer browsing means loss of habitat for other forest wildlife including birds, turtles and small mammals. Tree regeneration is impaired and native wildflowers are destroyed. Our natural areas lose capacity to provide important ecosystem services, such as limiting stormwater runoff.


Many Arlingtonians who live near natural areas also have noticed more deer in their neighborhoods, walking along the streets and causing damage to their plants.

The problem of deer overpopulation is not limited to Arlington. Neighboring jurisdictions, including Fairfax and Montgomery counties, and the National Park Service in Rock Creek Park have had programs to manage their deer populations for many years. They report perfect safety records and donate thousands of pounds of venison to local food banks.

In the absence of effective natural predators such as wolves, it is our responsibility to restore balance to the local ecosystem for the benefit of all flora and fauna, including the deer.

Phil Klingelhofer, Arlington

Klingelhofer is president of Arlington Regional Master Naturalists.

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