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New approach to control Rock Creek Park deer population

Wednesday - 5/30/2012, 4:40pm  ET

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Deer are encroaching into neighborhoods and yards, eating vegetation they can find and frustrating gardeners. (NPS)

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There are too many deer in Rock Creek Park eating up all the vegetation. Now there's a plan in place to control them.

This month, the National Park Service has approved a plan to cut down on the number of deer in Rock Creek over 15 years.

Chief Ranger Nick Bartolomeo says right now there are about 375 deer in Rock Creek.

"That's about four-times the number that the forest can sustainably manage and still regenerate," says Bartolomeo.

He further explains the deer are "eating all the vegetation that's trying to come up and as a result we're not getting any forest generation." He says the impact would be devastating in 20-30 years.

The plan calls for lethal and non-lethal means to control the deer population. Some deer will be given contraceptives.

Sharp shooters will also kill a certain number of deer at night and in the wintertime, starting this January.

He tells WTOP, sharp shooters with the U.S. Department of Agriculture will kill about 15-20 deer per square mile.

Bartolomeo says safety is their number one concern. He says they'll be "making every effort to make sure that the public is alerted and will not be put in any danger."

He says the public will be alerted that the park will be closed in certain times and certain areas.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)