A pest is considered an animal or plant species which, in high numbers, is detrimental to park resources. When managing pests, our goals are to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the park, and to assist the agricultural cooperators with keeping the historic scene.
A prominent, but surprising, pest is the White-tailed Deer. Many parks within the National Park Service have had to address the issues associated with increasing deer populations. Deer pose a problem because, in high concentrations, they can prevent forest regeneration by eating all of the young vegetation and removing the forest understory. The battlefield also has an active agricultural lease program and the deer have affected farming practices. Fields that were traditionally planted with wheat, corn or soybeans are no longer profitable due to deer browsing.
Another pest is the Ground Hog, which is affecting the park’s cultural resources by destroying the foundations to many of our historic buildings. Their large system of burrows can also damage crops and farm equipment.
The Gypsy Moth is an exotic insect species which, in high numbers, can cause considerable defoliation of native trees. Defoliation can cause habitat changes such as decreased food for wildlife, increased sunlight which creates good habitat for invasive plants, an increase in the amount of dead timber, and changes in water quality. Last year Gypsy Moths were found in high concentrations in an area of the Brooks Hill forest. In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, a 40 acre block of the forest was sprayed to reduce insect populations and prevent significant defoliation. This summer park staff will be monitoring the population to determine how effective those actions were.