Still, that’s 20 too many to those who opposed it. The Animal Welfare Institute organized protests at the park on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, saying: “This will be the first time in 120 years — since Rock Creek Park was established — that the NPS will intentionally kill any of the native wildlife.”
NPS intends to begin the next phase this fall. The NPS press release is below:
Washington, D.C. – The National Park Service has concluded deer management operations in Rock Creek Park for the winter of 2013. Firearm experts culled the deer population by 20 safely and without incident.
During the past week, Rock Creek Park resource management specialists, in coordination with United States Park Police and local law enforcement, worked closely with highly trained marksmen from the United States Department of Agriculture to reduce the deer population in the park,” said Rock Creek Park Superintendent Tara Morrison. “Public safety was the highest priority during this operation. We operated at night when the park is normally closed, observed safety zones surrounding the park boundary, and used lead-free ammunition during our operations.”
These actions were part of the first year of a three-year white-tailed deer management plan for Rock Creek Park. Over the last 20 years, the park’s white-tailed deer population has grown so large that the deer are eating nearly all tree seedlings, preventing forest sustainability. The plan calls for reducing the deer population to support the long-term protection, preservation, and restoration of native vegetation and to allow for the forest to regenerate.
In accordance with the park’s approved White-tailed Deer Management Plan, thinning operations will resume in the fall of 2013, as the park works towards reducing the deer population from more than 70 per square mile to between 15-20 per square mile. Scientists have determined that this level will allow the forests of Rock Creek Park to regenerate. Once the deer population is reduced to this level, management efforts will focus on maintaining a sustainable deer population.
Rock Creek Park will donate all suitable venison to a food bank or homeless shelter in the Washington, D.C. area.
Information about the Rock Creek Park Deer Management Plan including an FAQ may be found by clicking here.