The National Park Service (NPS) implemented a deer management plan for Antietam National Battlefield beginning in 2017. This plan, approved in 2014, can be accessed at the Planning, Environment & Public Comment website.
The purpose of this plan was to develop a deer management strategy that supports preservation of the historic battlefield landscape by protecting and restoring native plants and other natural and cultural resources.
Although relatively rare at the turn of the twentieth century, white-tailed deer populations in the Mid-Atlantic region have grown during recent years. Deer thrive on food and shelter available in the "edge" habitat conditions created by suburban development. In addition, landscape fragmentation and increased development have reduced suitable hunting opportunities.
The size and density of the deer herd has increased substantially in Antietam National Battlefield, where hunting is prohibited by law. Current deer densities are roughly 10 times larger than commonly accepted sustainable densities for this region, estimated at about 15-20 deer per square mile. Plant monitoring in recent years has documented the effects of the large herd size on forest regeneration in the park. In addition, deer browsing has damaged crops and other plants that are key components of the historic landscape. It is critical to the mission of Antietam National Battlefield to preserve and rehabilitate important cultural landscapes.
Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during deer reduction operations. We will continue to share additional information on this website regarding implementation of deer management strategies as the process moves forward. Suitable venison will be donated to local food banks.
FAQ Antietam National Battlefield Deer Management Plan (Updated January 2019)
Deer Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement 2014
National Parks in Maryland, Virginia and DC provide more than 75,000 meals to neighbors with donated venison (April 2019)
White-tailed deer management resumes in western Maryland national parks in February (February 2019)
White-Tailed Deer Management Resumes in Western Maryland national parks (November 2017)
Western Maryland National Parks Reduce Deer Populations to Protect Natural and Historic Landscapes (March 2017)
Western Maryland parks to implement White-Tailed Deer Management Plans (October 2016)
Last updated: April 29, 2019