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Blasting away at Bambi could be on the horizon in Arlington

County staff propose use of hired sharpshooters to cull herd

Arlington government officials will be giving the county’s deer population at least an 18-month heads up that they might want to find a new home, or face an uncertain future.

Under a timeline proposed June 18 by county staff – but still far from adopted – the county government could turn to professional sharpshooters to start blasting away at Bambi and friends, starting in the winter of 2025-26.

Before that occurs, county officials will have to adopt changes to county ordinances permitting deer-culling on public land. And before THAT occurs, they will have to gather more public input on a subject that, perhaps not surprisingly, has drawn plenty of passion in the local community.

Development of a deer-management proposal has been ongoing in Arlington since 2021, and while there has been an extensive public-outreach effort, those who see Arlington’s governance in Machiavellian terms suggest county staff long ago settled on shooting as its preferred option.

A survey conducted of residents by the county government, released in early 2024, shows a decidedly more circumspect reaction to deadly force.

The survey delivered no consensus on the issue of using sharpshooters: 30 percent of the roughly 2,300 respondents said they were “very supportive” of the proposal, 13 percent supportive, 4 percent neutral, 7 percent unsupportive and 44 percent very unsupportive.

Another alternative offered in the survey – lethal public archery – drew hostility from a larger majority of those participating, while non-lethal surgical sterilization was supported by more than 60 percent of respondents.

In questioning staff June 18, County Board Vice Chairman Takis Karantonis cautioned against overreliance on sharpshooters.

“There is a consensus [among those who have studied the issue nationally] that one method alone does not actually produce the results – durable results,” he said.

Karantonis said an “always-changing mix of methods” would be necessary.

The county’s goal is not to denude Arlington of its white-tailed-deer population, but to bring down the numbers.

For full details on the initiative, see the county government’s Website section on the topic at