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Sharpshooters working for the National Park Service are set to start killing some of Rock Creek Park’s deer this winter, partly to keep the animals from destroying the park’s trees. But for people who live near the park, the culling could have dire consequences, according to a new lawsuit filed to stop the killing.

The suit, filed on behalf of five frequent users of the park and California environmental group In Defense of Animals, alleges that residents could suffer a variety of consequences, from being forced to sell their homes to no longer being able to make paintings of deer.

Carol Grunewald, a Chevy Chase resident who lives near the park, could no longer go to the park if the cull plan begins. “Ms. Grunewald will need to stop using the Park to minimize the chance that she will see dead or dying deer and because it will no longer be a place of solitude and tranquility, but instead will cause her great anxiety and distress,” the lawsuit reads.

The National Park Service announced the plan, which involves sharpshooters and archers killing the deer while contraceptives are distributed for  the survivors, in May. According to the Park Service, the park’s deer population, once just four in 1960, has ballooned to 80 deer in each of the park’s four square miles. The deer population threatens vegetation, especially tree seedlings, in the park, according to the Park Service.

But that’s little consolation for Grunewald, who claims that, if the deer are killed, she could be forced to leave her neighborhood. “She may actually have to sell her home where she has lived for over twenty years and relocate to an area that is nowhere near Rock Creek Park,” the lawsuit reads.

Another plaintiff, Anne Barton, has lived close to the park for 36 years, painting the deer that come to her yard. According to the suit, though, she would probably stop painting any remaining deer if the cull begins. “She is particularly concerned that a fawn she observed being born in her yard in 2004 will be killed by this action,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit, filed against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis, alleges that Park Service is violating several laws with the cull. It also warns out that planned use of birth control could be spoiled by the killing, since the deer would be avoiding people after the killings.

[documentcloud url=”https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/487807-rockcreek.html”]

Photo by Flickr user Mr. T in D.C. used under a Creative Commons license.