Rock Creek Park Deer Brief Filed in Appellate Court

This week we filed our opening brief in our appeal to save the Rock Creek Park deer. The appeal, filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of neighbors of Rock Creek Park and In Defense of Animals, demonstrates that the National Park Service lacks the authority to kill deer in the park this fall. Congress intended that Rock Creek Park be set aside to "preserv[e] from injury" all animals within the Park and that park managers retain animals "in their natural condition, as nearly as possible." The Park Service has consistently construed this language as prohibiting the killing of any native wildlife in this Park, and this will be the first time in 123-year history of the park that the Park Service has allowed the harming of any wildlife. We also show that the Park Service does not even have the data it said it needed to determine that the deer, rather than exotic plants, are interfering with forest regeneration in the park, and that the Park Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to take into account the issue of exotic plant species, as well as the fact that killing the wildlife in the park will ruin the ability of many to enjoy this very special place.

The appeals brief comes on the heels of a Petition to the Park Service – brought by neighbors, the Washington Humane Society, and In Defense of Animals – demonstrating that the Park Service’s own data undercut its arguments for killing the deer. The Petition presents a new analysis from a renowned Yale professor that shows that deer are having no significant adverse impact on forest regeneration or the spread of invasive exotic plants.