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The urban jungle.

I ride my bike in and around Washington, D.C., just about every day. One of my favorite routes takes me through Rock Creek Park--a forest smack dab in the middle of the city. Every time I spot a deer chomping on some shrubs or scampering through the woods, I marvel at the fact that I'm only a few minutes away from the ambulances, buses, garbage trucks, and taxi cabs that are a permanent fixture in a city of 650,000 people.

It's nice to escape to a national park in your back yard. And D.C. isn't unique. Urban parks are providing that first park experience for thousands of people who may never go camping in Yellowstone, climb a rock in Yosemite, or see a grizzly in Glacier. But of course, nature doesn't stop at the edge of the sidewalk. Our very presence changes the picture dramatically. And sometimes the results are hard to stomach.

As Heidi Ridgley's article "In the Crosshairs" notes, deer have gone from near extinction in the Eastern United States to extreme overpopulation. As a result, Bambi is destroying the landscape of Rock Creek Park and several Civil War sites as well. In urban parks, deer have few predators, and their numbers are bolstered by the fragmentation of green space, which creates the open foraging areas and surrounding thick forest cover they prefer. The tidy solution would be to use birth control to keep their numbers in check, but that option isn't as simple as you'd think. Turn to page 46 to learn more about the challenge of balancing the human landscape with the wild landscape that we all treasure so much.

Scott Kirkwood


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Title Annotation:Editor's Note
Author:Kirkwood, Scott
Publication:National Parks
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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