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Contact: Emily Linroth, 202-619-7156
Contact: Erica Teti-Zilinskas, 202-847-0228
WASHINGTON – The NPS donated 1,300 pounds of venison to DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that develops social ventures to fight poverty and hunger, and prepares meals for shelters and transitional housing throughout DC.
“We’re happy to support local organizations like DC Central Kitchen that make a difference for communities across DC,” said Frank Young, Rock Creek Park’s acting superintendent.
The donation follows the safe and successful removal of 36 deer from Rock Creek Park, completing deer management operations for the year.
The deer are tested to make sure they do not have Chronic Wasting Disease before the venison is donated to local food banks. The NPS has donated approximately 7,300 pounds of venison to DC Central Kitchen since beginning deer management in 2013.
The NPS must balance the needs of all the animals and plants in Rock Creek Park. A consistent deer population density of 15-20 per square mile is needed for a healthy, diverse forest that supports native vegetation and wildlife, including deer. Since 2013, the NPS has reduced the park’s deer population from nearly 80 per square mile to an estimated 19 per square mile.
The NPS uses an adaptive management approach that is flexible based on how deer and vegetation populations respond. Although the desired density for deer may be achieved fairly quickly, it could take six or more years for tree seedling densities to reach a level necessary for the forest to sustain itself.
Without continued management, deer populations would quickly rebound and again eat nearly all tree seedlings and other plants before they could grow. Scientists continue to monitor response of park vegetation to fewer deer, which will help inform future deer management practices.