News Release

White-Tailed Deer Management Resumes in Western Maryland national parks

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Date: November 8, 2017
Contact: Megan Nortrup, 202-339-8314

FREDERICK, Md.– To provide for long-term protection and restoration of native vegetation, promote healthy and diverse forests and protect historic landscapes, three Western Maryland national parks are preparing to implement previously approved white-tailed deer management plans this year. The National Park Service (NPS) will donate all suitable meat from reduction activities to local food banks. Last year, more than eight tons of venison were donated to local food banks.


Catoctin Mountain Park will continue with the ninth year of its deer management efforts between November 2017 and March 2018. Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield will conduct their second season of deer reduction activities under their approved plan between December 2017 and March 2018. For public safety, limited park areas will be temporarily closed while reduction operations are underway. Visitors and area residents are encouraged to check their local park’s website for the most up-to-date information and are reminded to respect posted closures.


Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during operations. Biologists, who are also highly trained firearms experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will work under the direction of National Park Service resource management specialists and in coordination with law enforcement park rangers to perform reduction operations in a manner proven safe and effective. Hunting is not legal in these three Western Maryland national parks.


Overabundant deer populations damage vegetation and eat nearly all the tree seedlings compromising the ability of forests to sustain themselves. Deer also damage the crops that are a key component of the historic setting. Crop farming was present at the battlefields during the Civil War and the parks’ enabling legislation mandates preservation of these important cultural landscapes.


Deer management has produced positive results at several area national parks including Gettysburg National Military Park (Pa.) and Catoctin Mountain Park (Md.). Catoctin has actively worked to reduce deer populations in the park since 2010 and has seen more than a 10-fold increase in seedling density over the past 8 years. Several additional national parks across the country actively manage deer populations including Rock Creek Park (D.C.), Valley Forge National Historical Park (Pa.), and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Oh.).



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Last updated: November 8, 2017

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