Editor: The letter penned by some of our lawmakers following the incident in Aldie by careless gun owners that resulted in property damage is a case in point exercise in partisan politics that does not serve the people of Loudoun County.
This sentence in particular when looking at the big picture is at best short sighted and at worst voluntarily misleading: “the local zoning code better provides a mechanism to proactively reduce the likelihood of injuries or damages from stray gunfire.”
Forbidding shooting in the Transition Policy Area will essentially put an end to hunting, resulting in the explosion of the white-tailed deer population. This is not an urban area that pushes deer away. Most of the transition area is zoned TR-3 or TR-10, meaning one dwelling unit per 3 to 10 acres of land. This leaves thousands upon thousands of acres of meadows and woods for deer to thrive.
When deer population remains controlled through culling, the animals are healthier and the number of collisions drops. While there isn’t an abundance of studies on this, “one field test in Minnesota showed that a deer population reduction program reduced winter deer densities by 46 percent and DVCs (deer-vehicle collisions) by 30 percent” (source: Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology).
This is why hunting season in Loudoun County lasts longer and the bag limit for antlerless deer is higher than in most neighboring communities. We have a deer population issue that is addressed through hunting.
Actual numbers, which unfortunately are sorely lacking from the letter to support the position that banning shooting in the Transition Policy Area, will reduce the likelihood of injuries or damages, show the true cost of collisions with large animals.
Loudoun county is the Northern Virginia community that sees most of the deer strikes by vehicle already, with between 150 and 180 collisions each year (source: Commonwealth of Virginia).The average cost of a deer strike claim last year was over $4,000 (source: State Farm).The number of fatalities from collisions with animals nationwide was 189 in 2016 (source: U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System).
Despite what our esteemed lawmakers are telling us, less hunting means more deer, more collisions with vehicles, and therefore more property damage and an increased risk of injuries and deaths.
While I would like for Wexton, Favola, Boysko, Bell, Delaney, Gooditis, Murphy and Reid to use actual numbers to support their claim, I have no doubt we will not see any and they will remain unfazed.
After all this is purely a political statement fueled by “truthiness.” Because they decided firearms are horrible things, they must be banned or their use limited every chance they get, no matter the consequences.
Jeff Mach, Leesburg