There’s an astonishing error in the Washington Post’s front page story on the National Park Service’s program to shoot deer in Rock Creek Park and the wackos protesting it. In the fifth paragraph, right there on the front page, it reads, “With 70 deer per square acre, the park has about four times the density considered ideal.” Error one: an acre is a square measurement. It’s redundant and ignorant to say “square acre.” Error two: anyone who has any idea of how big an acre is would know that “70 deer per square acre” is pretty much impossible. Sharpshooters wouldn’t need night goggles to spot deer; they could just shoot in their general direction and be pretty sure to hit one.
The lead sentence of the same paragraph betrays some ignorance as well. “The Park Service says that what it euphemistically calls a deer ‘harvest’ is needed to safeguard the health of the park . . . .” The quotation marks around harvest suggests that the Park Service is unusual in using the word harvest. But in fact it’s a common term. Google searches for “deer harvest” and “harvest deer” with quotation marks yield 179,000 and 28,200 results.
I presume someone will clean up the first error, since the article later states that the Park Service estimates that there are 70 deer per square mile in the park. But as of 11am Eastern time no correction had been made on the web. Perhaps the Post should tutor its reporters and editors and fill them in on what an acre is.