Letter to the Editor: Huntley Meadows Park Wildlife is Under Attack

"Where else can you stand and watch beavers up close, see a great blue heron fishing yards away and observe the majestic ospreys and bald eagles hunting against such a beautiful, tranquil wetland backdrop?"

ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Zebra Press is in receipt of this alarming letter regarding Huntley Meadows Park, located just south of Alexandria City:

Dear Editor,

We have been thrilled that Huntley Meadows has opened up again! How refreshing to be able to visit this unique place.

Unfortunately, there has been a definite increase in the number of people breaking the rules that have created this unique environment.

Bunnies like this abound along with other wildlife at Huntley Meadows Park, the largest park operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, is located in the Hybla Valley area of Fairfax County, Virginia, south of the city of Alexandria. (Photo: Marlene A. Eilers Koenig)

In the past few days I have encountered five dogs on the boardwalk (leashed and roaming free), a couple of kids on scooters and even someone on rollerblades! Needless to say, this frightens and endangers the wildlife and ruins the experience for a good many people.

We have tried to do our part by explaining the rules to these folks. Some listen and understand, some are rude and aggressive.

A amoher and her three babies. (Photo: Tuan Dao)

We feel that this is a really important time as there are many new visitors to the park who will begin forming habits that are hard to break. I know it is challenging to deal with this during the current situation but if something is not done it could impact the park for a long time.

Christian Demers posted to the Huntley Meadows Park Photography Facebook group on Wednesday, May 27, 2020: “I saw this snapper with its carapace like this today on my way out. I am asking you my fellow members if this just happened recently or what? I found it appalling if someone did it maliciously especially with the shoe print on it.”

There is a concerned group of folks (photographers, nature lovers) who are struggling to find a solution to this. We firmly believe that with the right information, people will realize that the reason they are able to see such amazing wildlife close up at Huntley is because these rules maintain a safe, calm and quiet environment where the animals do not feel the need to shy away from the inquisitive humans.

A beaver hard at work constructing his summer lodge. (Photo: Catherine Graf)

Where else can you stand and watch beavers up close, see a great blue heron fishing yards away and observe the majestic ospreys and bald eagles hunting against such a beautiful, tranquil wetland backdrop?

As a fourth grade teacher, I know the value of education in developing respect for the natural world. I would like to see the local authorities work with citizens to raise awareness of this park’s unique habitat.

Robert Taylor

NEARBY: Explore Huntley Mansion