Editor: Though I share Phil Klingelhofer’s concerns regarding deer overbrowsing in Arlington’s urban forests [“Deer Overpopulation Has Multiple Impacts,” Letters March 10], it’s important not to scapegoat deer for this human-engineered outcome.
Moreover, Arlington has predators – coyotes – so lack of predation isn’t necessarily the real problem, either.
Keep in mind that just one or two humans, armed with land-clearing equipment, can fell an entire forest in a matter of days. Habitat loss (aka deforestation) has forced deer to adapt to tasty suburban lawns and landscaping, enabling them to thrive in this unnatural environment and their numbers to grow.
Forcing deer from large, undeveloped and agricultural tracts into fragmented remnants crowds these animals into increasingly smaller spaces, reducing the land’s carrying capacity to support all animals and plants, not just deer. Also unacknowledged are the many other threats to our urban forests: damage from off-road biking, intense urban heat/drought, air pollution (especially ozone), herbicide use and degraded/buried streams (interrupting the natural water cycle), to name a few.
No one wants deer to starve or suffer, but some people will consider only ONE option: shooting them in a dense, urban area packed with people. I mean, what could go wrong?
Folks intent on “blasting away at Bambi” (as the Sun Gazette puts it) won’t consider anything else, even though studies conducted by ecologist and deer-contraceptive expert Dr. Allen Rutberg of Tufts University’s Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine indicate contraceptive vaccines are effective in controlling deer populations.Fences also can work to protect sensitive areas by keeping deer out.
What’s needed is a balanced, humane approach – one that doesn’t blame the victims – tailored to Arlington’s specific needs and conditions.
Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Arlington