National Park Service Reducing White-Tailed Deer Populations in 6 Parks, Meat to Be Donated

by Halle Ames

The National Park Service reports that they will be reducing the white-tailed deer population at six parks across the U.S.

The six national parks include the Catoctin Mountain Park, and the Antietam and Monocacy national battlefields. They also include the Manassas National Battlefield Park, and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and Harpers Ferry national historical parks.

All the parks will undergo processes to reduce the deer population beginning in January until March 31, 2021.

If white-tailed populations become too large, they damage the vegetation by eating tree seedlings before they can grow. The news release reports the effort is to “protect and restore native plants, promote healthy and diverse forests, and preserve historic landscapes.”

The National Park Service says that highly trained firearms experts will be in charge of the wildlife reduction operation.

The hunts will also only take place at night when the parks are closed to the public. Parts of the parks will be temporarily unavailable for entry while the efforts are taking place.

In addition, the National Park Service says that they will be donating all suitable meat to local food banks. “Last year, these national parks in Maryland and Virginia (except Harpers Ferry) donated more than 13,400 pounds of venison to local food banks.”

White-Tailed Deer Efforts by National Park Service

This is the first time the reduction will happen at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. However, this is the third time it will take place at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park and Manassas National Battlefield Park. The Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield have been reducing their large deer population for five years now, while this year will mark 12 years of deer management at Catoctin Mountain Park.

Other parks across the U.S. also manage their deer populations regularly. These include the Rock Creek Park (D.C.), Gettysburg National Military Park (Pa.), and Fire Island National Seashore (Ny.). They also actively watch the population in Valley Forge National Historical Park (Pa.), and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio).