Sharpshooting key to new Rock Creek Park deer management plan

After months of planning, the National Park Service has released its final plan for managing the white-tailed deer population of Rock Creek Park. In the park, which includes the parkland west of Georgetown and north of Burleith, “the population of deer is now so great that it has compromised the ability of native forests to regenerate,” according to the NPS. Lacking predators, deer have proliferated in the park, devouring plant and tree seedlings. The NPS aims to reduce the white-tail population by more than 50 percent.

To remedy the problem, the NPS prefers to first utilize “sharpshooting and capture/euthanasia” to quickly reduce the deer population. After the first period of culling, the Park Service will attempt to employ sterilization as a long-term reproductive control method. If sterilization is not feasible, bow-and-arrow sharpshooting will continue to be the primary option to control the deer population.

“Reducing the deer herd is absolutely necessary in order to maintain Rock Creek Park the way it exists for future generations,” NPS spokesperson Bill Line told WJLA-TV. The resulting deer meat will be donated to food banks in the area.

The plan is expected to be adopted in February, and sharpshooters could begin to cull the population later this year, assuming the NPS receives the necessary funding to change its existing policies. The park’s current deer management policies have included intense monitoring vegetation and deer density, and limited use of repellents to protect rare plants and cultural areas, but they have been unable to reduce the effects of “deer overbrowsing.”

In September, the Voice applauded a similar program in Fairfax County, which has drawn criticism from Fairfax residents and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Such management programs are ultimately beneficial to both human and deer populations. In some areas of the county there were 400 deer per square mile, vastly exceeding the ratio of 20 deer per square mile considered healthy, according to a statement in the Washington Post by a county wildlife biologist. There are 80 deer per square mile in Rock Creek Park, according to a fall 2011 study.

Image: Mike Licht

3 Comments on “Sharpshooting key to new Rock Creek Park deer management plan

  1. Woah! Killing Bambi?! I can’t even bear to read the article anymore.

  2. Deer management is key to managing vehicular accidents, Healthy Forestry programs, and even Disease control, when the population gets out of control the habitat is overwhelmed, Causing deer to travel to different areas of the suburbs and rural areas to graze for food, This travel puts human lives at risk every day while in a Vehicle, extremely damages undergrowth which is our forests way of re producing and delivering oxygen to again humans, excess population can get sick when there immune system is not supported properly by diet and they die in our rivers and streams, again causing the possibility of human sickness. All this not to mention the meat processed with feed our homeless again another reason why this is a good program.

    So In closing unless you want to pay higher insurance premiums for your vehicle, loose money for you vehicle because of un needed repairs, die of oxygen depervation from loss of forestry,or possible get disease because the water we all drink could become tainted with bacteria from sick animals, I would suggest you support these types of programs, they keep us all safe in one way or another.

    Dont get me wrong with thinking im saying you need to take part in the harvesting or even stand up and support them by writing a simple email, All Im saying is that you dont turn your back to it and face the reality! Maybe one day you may even find the necessity of harvesting a deer to feed your family, who knows what the future brings and if it turns bad I for one would like to know that one of our best renewable food sources is healthy and good for my family and is not tainted by some disease because of a group of humane societies crybaby shouts about taking an animal to feed our population or my family or keeping our roads safe…… Just my $.02

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