Park Service seeks public input on plan to reduce deer population in DC-area parks

The National Park Service is again seeking public input into a proposed plan to cut the number of deer roaming across specific areas in the National Capital Parks — East region.

NPS just completed its environmental assessment based on the last public comment period, showing what kind of impact there would be if the matter is handled different ways.

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  • Some of the areas involved include Anacostia Park, Greenbelt Park and Fort Washington Park, which are among 20 locations targeted by the plan.

    Based on NPS’ documentation, the service wants a management strategy that would utilize sharpshooters who are “highly trained firearms experts experienced in conducting wildlife reduction operations.”

    The operation would be conducted at night during the fall and winter months.

    In a news release, NPS said the plan’s purpose is to “support long-term protection, preservation and restoration of native vegetation and other natural and cultural landscapes.”

    “Within forests, deer can significantly reduce forest regeneration by damaging and eating tree seedlings and saplings,” NPS said. “Over time, this can degrade forests and the habitat they provide for other animals and plants.”

    Within its environmental assessment, NPS cited data gathered from 2019 to 2020 in Fort Dupont, Kenilworth Park and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and Anacostia Park that had an average of nearly 200 deer per night.

    Deer density was as high as 175 animals per square mile.

    NPS said the goal is to reduce density to between 15 to 20 and could be achieved “in approximately five to 10 years.”

    Disposal of the deer could involve meat donations to local charitable organizations and nonprofit food banks.

    NPS also said it explored other alternatives but found “there are no known non-lethal controls that are effective, as well as feasible, for National Capital Parks — East to implement.”

    The public comment period runs through Nov. 8. Comments can be shared online.

    Ken Duffy

    Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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