UPDATE: Click here to see Friends of Animals’ full comments, joined by CARE of the Delaware Valley.

A Message From Lee Hall, Legal director of Friends of Animals (8 Feb. 2009) — Last month, I attended a public meeting held at Valley Forge National Historical Park. It’s known historically as a six-month headquarters for George Washington, and, more recently, as a safe haven for deer in suburban Pennsylvania.

With a few dozen other area residents, I watched a public slideshow presentation geared to persuade us to accept agents from the US Department of Agriculture in the five-mile park, with orders to kill the vast majority of the deer over the next four winters, then spend future years controlling the deer with a lab-created birth control substance, most likely leuprolide, a hormone-based formula.

It sounds like a large, chaotic experiment on the grounds of the now-peaceful Valley Forge Park.

The plan was outlined by a biologist. We’re expected to defer. Yet the plan isn’t right, natural, or needed. It doesn’t uphold cultural values or environmental awareness. It’s eerie on every level.

Since 2005, the Valley Forge Park deer population has decreased. Still, park officials don’t approve of the amount of vegetation this now-stable population is eating. But deer need special concern in decisions involving the ecological balance of a space. Ethically speaking, conscious beings aren’t just a factor to erase to solve a perceived problem.

Deer have always eaten native plants, plants that naturally regenerate. Expansion of the Penn Turnpike is a genuine threat to native vegetation with which deer are simply symbiotic.

Moreover, biologists acknowledge that coyotes are beginning to make a comeback. And unlike bigger predators, coyotes could safely exist in a five-mile park. The coyote population will take time to rebound, but this means we should promote their role in the ecosystem of our region.

I call on all Friends of Animals members and supporters, and every reader of this blog, to speak up for Valley Forge Park as a rare safe spot for animal life in the midst of suburban shopping malls and road construction.

To donate to Friends of Animals and support our work dedicated to defending the safety and dignity of the deer, click here. And thank you again for supporting “Alternative A: no action” against the deer.