Deer Are Fast, Bureaucratic Decision-Making Is Not

The Washington Monthly prides itself on being months or even years ahead of the mainstream press in breaking inside-the-Beltway stories—big ones as well as not-so-big ones. In the latter category is the problem of deer over-running and ruining the ecology of DC’s glorious Rock Creek Park. Two years ago in our pages, Timothy Murphy laid out the scope of the problem and why solving it was taking not months, as in nearby municipalities, but years and years. The reason is that Rock Creek is managed by the National Park Service, and is thus required to follow elaborate decision-making rules akin to those that protect snail darters. Those rules are also prey to protests by deer-loving citizens groups whose members include Beltways attorneys schooled in the art of slowing down regulatory processes.

Today, The New York Times reports that the slow-moving plan Murphy wrote about (using sharpshooters to cull the herd) may finally be approved by the Park Service in the next few weeks. But before the park’s denuded forests and the gardens of nearby residents get some relief, a budget for the program has to be approved. Unclear how long that will take. Welcome to life in Washington.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.