National Park Service releases deer death count

Taken in 2005, this photo shows a deer eating someone\'s garden near the Nicholson Street NW neighborhood by Rock Creek Park. (Courtesy of Linda Crichlow White)

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service says sharpshooters killed 20 deer during a three night operation in Rock Creek Park last week.

NPS initially hoped to remove 60 deer from the park, but National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson says officials are still pleased with the results.

“The operation went according to plan. The most important thing was safety,” Johnson says.

The effort to reduce the deer population in the park began Wednesday and continued during late night and early morning hours through Saturday.

“(The deer) have now been sent to be processed, and to be tested for any kind of disease. And then the meat will be donated to a charitable organization,” Johnson says.

Officials have not yet named which charity will receive the meat donation.

Johnson says the meat must first be checked for signs of Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurological condition that is deadly to deer and elk.

Last week’s operation was the start of a three-year deer management plan for Rock Creek Park.

Johnson says there won’t be more shooting of deer in the park until the fall of this year and winter next year.

The goal is to reduce the deer population in the park from more than 70 deer per square mile to between 15 and 20 per square mile.

A resident who lives near Rock Creek Park off 16th St. NW posted on a private neighborhood listserv Saturday that she had a deer with an injured and bloody leg in her yard.

The woman blamed the injury on the sharpshooting operation, but Johnson says she doesn’t think the deer was connected to the shooting.

“I have heard of no reports of injured deer. None whatsoever,” Johnson says. “Unfortunately, deer are often injured either by fences, by cars, so it could have been anything.”

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