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No consensus emerges on how to address deer population

Survey suggests some favor culling herd, others want less lethal options

Cynics have concluded that the fix already is in and the final decision is a foregone conclusion. But proponents of using lethal means to rid Arlington of what they say is a deer overpopulation didn’t get anywhere near unanimous backing from a new community survey.

In fact, the responses to the county-government poll proved decidedly all over the map.

There were more than 2,350 responses to the county government’s survey, which offered respondents four possible alternative scenarios to manage deer:

• Professional sharpshooting (lethal): 30 percent of respondents said they were “very supportive” of the proposal, 13 percent supportive, 4 percent neutral, 7 percent unsupportive and 44 percent very unsupportive.

• Public archery (lethal): 25 percent very supportive, 9 percent supportive, 6 percent neutral, 9 percent unsupportive, 51 percent very unsupportive.

• Surgical sterilization (non-lethal): 32 percent very supportive, 31 percent supportive, 11 percent neutral, 9 percent unsupportive, 15 percent very unsupportive.

• Fencing public parkland (non-lethal): 19 percent very supportive, 12 percent supportive, 12 percent neutral, 20 percent unsupportive, 36 percent very unsupportive.

About two-thirds of respondents came from single-family neighborhoods, and about the same percentage was female.

What to do about deer in Arlington has resulted in a contentious and, at times, emotional community battle. The survey and other feedback methods allowed respondents to write comments, and page after page is filled with viewpoints on the matter.

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 predict county staff already has decided on shooting as its preferred option.

The final decision, in theory, is in the hands not of the elected County Board, but of County Manager Mark Schwartz. After another round of community feedback and running any proposal through the gauntlet of Arlington’s advisory commissions, a final decision could come by the end of the year.

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