Sharpshooters take aim at Rock Creek deer

The deer population is booming in Rock Creek Park. (NPS)

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON – So many deer are crammed into a popular local park that there are plans to bring in sharpshooters for the first time to thin the herd.

Surveys conducted late last year show there are about 375 deer in Rock Creek Park, or about 80 per square mile.

The National Park Service wants to reduce that to 15 to 20 per square mile.

The Park Service wants to use several different methods to do the job: Sharpshooting, capture and euthanasia and possibly birth control.

Park Service spokesman Bill Line tells says the plan will be finalized soon in a legal document, and the program could begin as early as November of this year.

The public comment period for the plan ended in 2009.

The deer overpopulation problem in Rock Creek Park is so severe, it’s harming native plants and other animals, as well as reducing the ability of the forest to regenerate.

Line says this is not the first time sharpshooters will be brought in to reduce the deer population in our region. It’s been done before at parks in both Fairfax and Montgomery counties.

He says the deer meat will not go to waste. It will be donated to the needy.

Check out a list of frequently asked questions about the plan.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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