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Park Service Proposes Shooting Deer In Three National Battlefield Parks

White-tailed deer have overrun a number of national parks, and the National Park Service wants to use sharpshooters to control their population.
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White-tailed deer have overrun a number of national parks, and the National Park Service wants to use sharpshooters to control their population.

The National Park Service is proposing a plan to reduce the white-tailed deer population in three national battlefield parks around Washington—by potentially shooting them.

In a draft plan, the service says that it hopes to include the use of sharpshooters as part of an initiative to control the deer population at the Maryland battlefields of Antietam and Monocacy and the Virginia battlefield of Manassas. As part of the plan, non-lethal means such as enclosures and nonsurgical reproductive control could be used, but "lethal deer management actions"—sharpshooters—are proposed as an option.

According to the park service, higher-than-average deer density is "resulting in a substantial effect on park ecosystems and cultural landscapes due to the deer’s heavy browsing of vegetation, including orchards and crops." In Antietam, the average density of deer between 2001 and 2011 was 117 per square mile, while at Monocacy it stood at 171 and 148 at Manassas. The densities rose in 2011, according to the park service, to 131 in Antietam, 236 in Monocacy and 172 in Manassas.

Earlier this year sharpshooters killed 20 deer in Rock Creek Park in D.C. as part of a three-year-long deer management plan; 600 pounds of venison were subsequently donated to local food banks. The plan to shoot the deer in D.C. provoked spirited opposition from a group of residents and animal rights groups, which filed a lawsuit to stop the park service from using the sharpshooters. The lawsuit was dismissed.

The public will be able to offer input over the next two months at open meetings; the schedule is below.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center
5831 Dunker Church Road Sharpsburg, Maryland 21782

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center
5201 Urbana Pike Frederick, Maryland

Thursday, August 29, 2013
6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Manassas National Battlefield Park Visitor Center
6511 Sudley Road Manassas, VA 20109

AMM DeerMgmt PublicMtgHandout August2013

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