• Log huts are coated in a fresh layer of snow

    Valley Forge

    National Historical Park Pennsylvania

Valley Forge National Historical Park Successfully Concludes Deer Management Actions for Winter 2011-2012

Nodding Trillium along the Valley Creek Trail, Credit Debby Clark and Ed Berg
Nodding Trillium along the Valley Creek Trail
Debby Clark and Ed Berg

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News Release Date: April 18, 2012
Contact: Kristina Heister, 610-783-1041

VALLEY FORGE, PA - Valley Forge National Historical Park completed the second year of the lethal reduction phase of the White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (plan). Park staff worked with the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services on 20 nights between November 2011 and March 2012 to remove 377 deer from the park. A total of 11,492 pounds (almost six tons) of meat resulting from this action were donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and provided to food pantries, soup kitchens, and other organizations across 21 counties in Pennsylvania.
This action included extensive measures to ensure a safe, humane, and successful operation, such as using highly qualified and experienced marksmen familiar with the park's geography and with conducting reduction activities in a highly suburbanized environment, conducting population reduction actions only when the park is closed, observing safety zones, using bait to attract deer to safe removal locations, shooting from an elevated position with an adequate backdrop, and utilizing special, non-lead ammunition that is safe for use in urban areas and in the environment. The NPS closely coordinated all activities with township and state law enforcement officials and with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
A total of 233 deer were tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal, neurological disease that has been detected approximately 200 miles from the park boundary. All of these deer tested negative for the presence of CWD.
This operation will continue each winter until the initial target deer density of 31-35 deer per square mile (165-185 deer) is achieved. The estimated deer density (pre-fawning) after the second year of operations is 71 deer per square mile (374 deer). This represents a significant population reduction from the estimated 241 deer per square mile (1,277 deer) present in 2009. The number of deer removed each year will be based on the results of annual deer population monitoring conducted in the spring. Subsequently, the park will maintain the park deer population level though reproductive control, once an acceptable agent becomes available.
The plan addresses browsing of tree and shrub seedlings by an increasing deer population over the last two decades which has prevented the ability of native forests to grow and mature and has reduced habitat for a range of native wildlife species. Though data are still preliminary, park forests may already be showing signs of recovery. Forest monitoring conducted by the National Park ServiceVALLEY FORGE, PA - Valley Forge National Historical Park completed the second year of the lethal reduction phase of the White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (plan). Park staff worked with the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services on 20 nights between November 2011 and March 2012 to remove 377 deer from the park. A total of 11,492 pounds (almost six tons) of meat resulting from this action were donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and provided to food pantries, soup kitchens, and other organizations across 21 counties in Pennsylvania.
This action included extensive measures to ensure a safe, humane, and successful operation, such as using highly qualified and experienced marksmen familiar with the park's geography and with conducting reduction activities in a highly suburbanized environment, conducting population reduction actions only when the park is closed, observing safety zones, using bait to attract deer to safe removal locations, shooting from an elevated position with an adequate backdrop, and utilizing special, non-lead ammunition that is safe for use in urban areas and in the environment. The NPS closely coordinated all activities with township and state law enforcement officials and with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
A total of 233 deer were tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal, neurological disease that has been detected approximately 200 miles from the park boundary. All of these deer tested negative for the presence of CWD.
This operation will continue each winter until the initial target deer density of 31-35 deer per square mile (165-185 deer) is achieved. The estimated deer density (pre-fawning) after the second year of operations is 71 deer per square mile (374 deer). This represents a significant population reduction from the estimated 241 deer per square mile (1,277 deer) present in 2009. The number of deer removed each year will be based on the results of annual deer population monitoring conducted in the spring. Subsequently, the park will maintain the park deer population level though reproductive control, once an acceptable agent becomes available.
The plan addresses browsing of tree and shrub seedlings by an increasing deer population over the last two decades which has prevented the ability of native forests to grow and mature and has reduced habitat for a range of native wildlife species. Though data are still preliminary, park forests may already be showing signs of recovery. Forest monitoring conducted by the National Park Service Mid-Atlantic Inventory and Monitoring Program suggests that after four years of monitoring, there is an indication that tree seedling regeneration is beginning to occur. This is particularly important for those species that can reach the forest canopy, thus ensuring the long-term survival of forests at Valley Forge. Though levels are still well below those needed to ensure adequate regeneration, we are now documenting species previously not found as seedlings at the same locations in 2007, including white ash, blackgum, black cherry, sassafras, and oak species. Observations by park staff and visitors also document the presence of native forest wildflowers starting to appear in small numbers outside fenced monitoring plots. These include Solomon's seal, bloodroot, spring beauty, mayapple, and nodding trillium. We look forward to the continued restoration of park forests and the wildlife species that call them home.
For additional information please contact Kristina Heister, Natural Resource Manager, Valley Forge NHP via email at kristina_heister@nps.gov. You may also visit the park website at www.nps.gov/vafo.

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