Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shenandoah Whitetails Under Assault: Public Meetings Announced

SNP Bucks Before CWD Study Began
It appears that the destruction of the world class Whitetail Deer viewing and  photography at SNP caused by the collaring of the mature bucks is just the tip of the ice berg, or at least this will be the case if CWD is found in the park or close enough to the park to trigger whatever reaction plan is finally adopted.  The National Park Service has now released two possible Chronic Wasting Disease response plans or perhaps it is more accurate to say that there is two versions of the same general plan, with one being more reactive in nature, and the other more proactive. The two options are know as the "Phased Approach" and the "Preemptive approach. It more or less boils down to a question of whether the Park Service starts shooting deer before the disease arrives in the park, or after it is discovered there.

Some of the ideas proposed, but already rejected, are also scary indeed to those of us who enjoy watching deer and other wildlife in a natural environment at SNP.  These include fencing the entire park and driving the park deer on to surrounding private lands, fencing deer out of  Big Meadows and other high deer density areas, destroying the vegetation in Big Meadows that attracts deer, introduction of more predators, and general eradication of the deer herd. Non-lethal methods were rejected because they would not reduce the deer herd quickly enough to reduce the likelihood of CWD establishment, or slow the spreading of the disease once it was found in the park.

The details are discussed in depth in:  Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Shenandoah National Park Public Scoping-Newsletter. , which may be found by clicking the link, scrolling to the bottom of the page and downloading the pdf document.

This is quite simply a no win situation for the deer, and those that are interested in them. The only choice between the proposals is which is the lesser of two evils. Deer watching and photography has already been severely impacted as a side effect of the CWD study. That is an accomplished fact-- no discussion or complaining will change it--although it is good to let officials know ones' thoughts on the situation.  In time the collars will fall off if the collaring program is not continued and eventually the situation will return to normal, but that will not likely be the case and it most certainly will not be the case if the preemptive plan is selected, as the shooting of deer would then start at any time officials decided.

The next step in the process is a series of Public Scoping/Draft Alternatives Meetings. These meetings are to provide opportunities for the public to express their concerns about the situation and provide feedback on the preliminary alternatives that have been developed.. According to the newsletter, "each meeting will be in an open house format with a presentation."  "NPS staff will be on hand to visit with you, answer questions, and solicit your input. Attendees may also submit comments in writing on forms available at the meeting, on-line, or by mail as described in this newsletter."

Below is a list of the Public Meetings.

March 12 – Charlottesville, VA, 7-9 pm
The Educational Building at Ivy Creek Natural Area
1780 Earlysville Road

March 13 – Harrisonburg, VA, 7-9 pm
James Madison University
Integrated Science and Technology Building
nTelos Room #259

March 14 – Washington, VA, 7-9 pm
Washington Fire Hall
10 Firehouse Lane

The preferred method of comment is
to submit comments electronically
through the NPS PEPC website

You may also mail
comments to Superintendent, Shenandoah Na
tional Park, 3655 U.S. Highway 211 East,
Luray, VA, 22835.

For more reading on the subject, visit the following links:

Also see the post on Flickr "Public Input Requested" by Larry W. Brown, which also has the meeting and contact information, along with featuring a superb photograph of one of the most impressive SNP bucks that unfortunately has been missing since the CWD study began late last summer.

A special thanks to Larry W. Brown and Jim Fields for directing our attention to this information and for their efforts on behalf of the Whitetails of SNP.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Lindsjö taxar said...

Hi! Interesting reading.....hope the meetings will be good

Linda Gross said...

I read this post and the newer one about CWD. Both were good reads. That is an excellent, I'd even go as far as to say an extreme cuteness factor, photograph at the top of your blog post.