The National Park Service announced today that it had donated 600 pounds of venison to the D.C. Central Kitchen. This isn't just any venison, though—it comes from 20 deer that were killed by the service in late March as part of a three-year plan to cut down on the number of white-tailed deer in the park.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide venison to people in need in Washington, D.C.,” said Tara Morrison, superintendent of Rock Creek Park, in a statement. “We hope to be able to donate venison in the future as we work to protect Rock Creek Park’s forests.”
The D.C. Central Kitchen said it would use the venison to make fresh meals; according to spokesman Paul Day, it makes 5,000 meals a day that are distributed to 100 different agencies across the city.
According to the Park Service, the density of deer in Rock Creek is roughly four times higher than the park can sustain. A plan to kill the deer with sharpshooters operating late at night and early in the morning was put on hold last year after one animal rights group and five residents sued, claiming that the service could opt for more humane methods of deer population control. In March a judge dismissed the suit, saying that the residents couldn't prove that the damage they would suffer from the culling operations were serious enough to merit overruling the Park Service.
As part of its plan, the Park Service plans on killing upwards of 150 deer over the next three years. The culling operations, conducted with the assistance of sharpshooters from the Department of Agriculture, will take place during the winter months.