Valley Forge National Historical Park Initiates the Fifth Year of White-tailed Deer Management

Oak and Hackberry Seedlings in Valley Forge Park
Oak and Hackberry Seedlings in Valley Forge NHP

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News Release Date: October 29, 2014

Contact: Stephanie Loeb, 610-783-1013

Valley Forge National Historical Park will conduct the fifth year of the lethal reduction phase of the White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (plan) beginning in November 2014 and extending through March 2015. The plan addresses the browsing of tree and shrub seedlings by an increasing deer population over the last two decades which prevented the ability of native forests to grow and mature and reduced habitat for a range of native wildlife species. Since the implementation of the plan, the forest at the park is continuing to recover from decades of over-browsing. Monitoring by National Park Service staff has documented native species seedlings that had not been present just a few years ago, including maple, red bud, maple-leaf viburnum, dogwood, oak, tulip-poplar, black gum, hickory, cherry, hackberry, ash, and sassafras. Preliminary data indicate an 850% increase in the number of seedlings in the first four years of the implementation of the plan.

The current phase of the plan (sharpshooting, plus capture and euthanasia if necessary), will achieve and maintain an initial deer density goal of 31 to 35 deer per square mile, in contrast to the 2009 density of 241 deer per square mile. Subsequently, the park will maintain the park deer population level though reproductive control, once an acceptable agent becomes available. 

Extensive measures to ensure a safe, humane, and successful operation include using highly qualified and experienced marksmen familiar with the park's geography and with conducting reduction activities in a highly suburbanized environment. The NPS will work with biologists from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services. This agency has a long history of conducting safe and effective actions to reduce wildlife populations, including the reduction of deer populations at multiple locations in the Philadelphia region. 

Additional safety measures include conducting population reduction actions when the park is closed, establishing safety zones, using bait to attract deer to safe removal locations, conducting shooting actions from an elevated position, and using specialized, non-lead ammunition that is safe for use in urban areas and the environment. NPS closely coordinates all activities associated with implementation of the plan with township and state law enforcement officials and with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. For additional information please e-mail us at (, or visit our Deer Management webpage (  

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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