Western Maryland parks to implement White-Tailed Deer Management Plans

FREDERICK, Md.–  To provide for long-term protection and restoration of native vegetation, promote healthy and diverse forests and protect historic landscapes, three Western Maryland National Parks are preparing to implement previously approved white-tailed deer management plans this year. The National Park Service (NPS) will donate all suitable meat from reduction activities to local food banks. 

Catoctin Mountain Park sees 10-fold increase in seedling density since 2009

From Dec. through March, Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield will conduct reduction activities for the first time under their 2014 approved plan. Catoctin Mountain Park will continue their deer management efforts for the eighth year between Nov. and March. Limited park areas will be temporarily closed while reduction operations are underway. Visitors and area residents are encouraged to check their local park’s website for the most up to date information and are reminded to respect posted closures.

Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during operations. Biologists, who are also highly trained firearms experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will work under the direction of National Park Service resource management specialists and in coordination with law enforcement park rangers to perform reduction operations in a manner proven safe and effective.

Overabundant deer populations damage vegetation and eat nearly all the tree seedlings compromising the ability of forests to sustain themselves. Deer also damage the crops that are a key component of the historic setting. Crop farming was present at the battlefields during the Civil War and the parks’ enabling legislation mandates preservation of these important cultural landscapes.

Deer management has produced positive results at several area national parks including Gettysburg National Military Park (Pa.) and Catoctin Mountain Park (Md.). Catoctin has actively worked to reduce deer populations in the park since 2010, and has seen a 10-fold increase in seedling density over the past 7 years. Several additional national parks across the country actively manage deer populations including Rock Creek Park (D.C.), Valley Forge National Historical Park (Pa), and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Oh). Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (D.C., Md., W.Va.) and Harpers Ferry (W.Va., Va., Md.) national historical parks are in the process of developing an Environmental Assessment for white-tailed deer management.