News Release

National Parks in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C. provide more than 48,000 meals of donated venison to neighbors

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Date: April 20, 2023
Contact: Megan Nortrup, 202-339-8314

WASHINGTON— Seven national parks in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have concluded this year’s annual operations to reduce overabundant white-tailed deer. These parks donated more than 12,000 pounds of venison to local nonprofit organizations that will serve approximately 48,000 meals to families in need.   

Controlling populations of white-tailed deer is one of the most effective ways to support resilient forests that sustain all wildlife and plants for the long-term. 

Before any donation, all parks professionally process deer and participate in a chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling program. To date all results have been negative for CWD, providing a high level of confidence that CWD does not currently exist in the deer populations in these parks. If any results from future deer management indicate the presence of CWD, the venison testing positive would not be donated.  

While these seven national parks preserve different aspects of America’s history and natural treasures, all have suffered from the effects of high deer populations. Overabundant deer populations damage plants and eat nearly all tree seedlings preventing forest regeneration. Deer also damage agricultural crops, which are a key component of the historic setting at many Civil War battlefields. These national parks manage deer populations to support long-term protection and restoration of native plants and to promote healthy and diverse ecosystems for all wildlife.  

Reducing overabundant deer populations has produced positive results at area national parks. Rock Creek Park which began deer management in 2013, has seen tree seedling numbers triple and Catoctin Mountain Park which has managed deer since 2010 has seen a 19-fold increase in tree seedling numbers. Long-term commitment to deer management is needed to translate that early success into increases in saplings, and ultimately mature trees of canopy species. 

Each park follows a deer management plan, developed with public input, according to the National Environmental Policy Act.    

The following nonprofits received venison donations this year:  

National Park  

Venison donated  

Local nonprofit  

Antietam National Battlefield  

2,464 lbs  

Maryland Food Bank  

Catoctin Mountain Park  

2,985 lbs  

HELP Hotline, Thurmont Food Bank 

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park  

660 lbs  

Maryland Food Bank  

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park  

810 lbs  

Maryland Food Bank  

Manassas National Battlefield Park  

1,710 lbs  

Hunters for the Hungry  

Monocacy National Battlefield  

2,464 lbs  

Maryland Food Bank  

Rock Creek Park  

1,100 lbs  

Maryland Food Bank  


12,193 lbs  



Last updated: April 20, 2023

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