To the Editor:
The Sept. 13-19 issue of the Connection was a major disappointment.
The page headline was "News" and yet the main article (Bow Hunting in Fairfax County Parks) concentrated on sensationalism and offered no opposing material on the subject. Any reader could easily tell that the top left deer photo was "enhanced" with the arrow—most likely with Photoshop or similar editing software. It wasn't News; was it a paid advertisement? If so, it was in poor taste.
The article, and the cited web site, was rife with incorrect or misleading statements. I believe the Connection Publishers owe it to their readers to investigate the facts. What better source than Victoria Monroe, the Fairfax County wildlife biologist. Ms. Monroe runs the Parks Bow Hunting Program and does a credible job.
I could have attached a legitimate photo of a sick and starving deer within Fairfax County—but that serves little except to tug at the emotional heartstrings. Overpopulation of deer in Fairfax County is a reality and it is a problem that must be faced square-on, using science, biology, personnel majoring in the wildlife career field and an understanding of the alternative costs of managing the deer herd. If citizens don't understand that an overpopulation of deer causes sickness, hunger, stress and death for the deer themselves, that it causes the understory/browse in our parks to disappear, that it leads to a reduction in the diversity of wild birds, plants, flowers and other wildlife, that it increases auto-deer collisions—then managing and controlling the deer population is that much harder .
Bow hunting in the parks is one method of managing the deer herd. Your readers need to know that the participant bow hunters are not just a group of careless individuals who just picked up their bows yesterday for the first time. Ms. Monroe's program sees to it that the hunters demonstrate the ability to hit what they aim at. And, many of these hunters have taken the Hunter Safety Course and the International Bowhunter Education Course. Many of the hunters shoot hundreds, and even thousands, of arrows yearly to maintain their proficiency. Once in the hunting program, the participants must adhere to a strict set of rules; otherwise, they're out of the program. Do hunters sometimes miss or wound a deer? Certainly. But I maintain that the participants in the parks program minimize the wounding through responsible hunting.
Because firearms use, by the public, in Fairfax County is too dangerous, the bow hunting program is effective. If one were to look more closely at the "proven effective alternatives" that are often espoused, it becomes apparent that they are effective only in very limited conditions—and, many would be very costly to the taxpayers.
Joel J. Lutkenhouse
Editor's note: The item in question was a paid advertisement; its content was not created by the Connection Newspapers, nor did the Connection have any input on the advertisement.