The deer are taking over the areas and causing environmental problems, officials say. They prevent forests from regenerating by eating young seedlings and saplings before they can mature. The park service says the herds of deer at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia and at Antietam and Monocacy in Maryland are four to 10 times bigger than the landscape can sustain.
The Park Service has been holding public meetings this week about what to do, floating the idea of the sharpshooters with stakeholders. The last is scheduled for tonight at the Monocacy battlefield, but the Park Service has to go through several rounds of review before implementing the program.
The deer have no remaining natural predators. The practice of hunting excess deer is used widely on county and state lands in Maryland and Virginia, and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania has used sharpshooters to control its deer population since 1995.