National Park Service Aims To Kill 100 Deer In Rock Creek Park

Deer hunts expected until March 31 with unannounced road closures.

The National Parks Service aims to reduce the population of White-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park. (NPS photo)
The National Parks Service aims to reduce the population of White-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park. (NPS photo)
The National Park Service launched another round of deer reduction in Rock Creek Park at the start of this month. Periodic killings of White-tailed deer in the park are expected to continue until March 31. 

The goal of the "lethal reduction efforts" is to reduce the population by 100 deer by the end of March, said Tara Morrison, superintendent of Rock Creek park. 

The current population of about 330 deer has damaged the park's vegetation and prevented the forest from growing, Morrison said. 

“Over the last 20 years, an overabundant white tail deer population has negatively impacted rock creek park," she said. 

During the next few months, marksman from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services will go out into the park at night, but "specific dates, times and locations of actions will not be announced, Morrison said.

But during the hunts, roads will be closed. 

According to people protesting at the park, there have been two rounds of killing since Jan. 2. 

Members of Save The Rock Creek Park Deer stood at the edge of the park on Sunday to protest the killings. 

On the organization's Facebook page, it advocates for a non-lethal solution to the deep population: reproductive control, a method being tried in Fairfax City, Va. 

"Let’s keep Rock Creek Park safe. Let’s save the Rock Creek Park deer," the organization says. 

In March 2013, 20 deer were killed during a period of deer reduction. Morrison said that provided more than 600 pounds of venison to D.C. Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that distributes food to homeless shelters, low-income families and other nonprofits. 

The National Parks Service will also donate the venison from this round of reduction. 

"All suitable venison will be donated to food banks or homeless shelters in the Washington D.C. area," Morrison said. 

What do you think of the NPS efforts to reduce the deer population in Rock Creek Park? Please respond in the comments. 

Possible temporary road closures are as follows, courtesy of the District Department of Transportation:

From 6:30 pm to 4:00 am:

  • Ross Drive

  • Ridge Road south of Grant Road
  • Glover Road south of the Rock Creek Park Horse Center
  • Horse Stable Road

From 9:30 pm to 4:00 am:

  • Beach Drive North of Broad Branch Road
  • Wise Road
  • The entire length of Glover Road
  • The entire length of Ridge Road
  • Grant Road
  • Sherrill Drive
  • Joyce Road
  • Morrow Drive
  • West Beach Drive at Parkside Drive
  • Stage Road
  • Bingham Drive, NW

Anne Barton January 16, 2014 at 09:35 AM
NPS is distorting science to justify this killing. An analysis by a highly respected Yale University forest ecologist has shown that the study NPS used for their claim that deer are damaging the Park actually shows the opposite -- deer eat seedlings but do not reduce the production of trees. They have used very biased analysis of alternatives that appear to be designed specifically to eliminate the most practical alternative from consideration. They rejected an offer by the Humane Society of the US to use that reproductive method at half the cost of the killing. Consequently they are producing expensive meat for the soup kitchen (over $27.00 per pound) The soup kitchens would be better off if NPS had accepted the HSUS offer and donated the extra money. They are also contracting with an organization known for animal cruelty to do the killing
Mark McWilliams January 16, 2014 at 08:50 PM
When deer eat seedlings, they are killing the forest's future. Deer are a prey species, and they need to be hunted by predators to keep the herd healthy. Without predation to take out the week or less wary individuals, inferior deer will breed and spread inferior genetics. If there aren't sufficient numbers of coyotes, wolves, mountain lions or bears to cull the deer herd, then humans need to do it. The sharpshooters hopefully will only be taking the less wary deer, allowing the smarter deer to pass on their genetic superiority, It may seem inhumane, but that is how nature works in the real world.
steve ditto January 17, 2014 at 01:46 PM
If the deer are not keep in check they will over populate and then there will be more road accidents. If this is what you want then do not allow the culling to continue. It is needed not only to keep them in check, but they will also leave the park and start eating everyone's flowers and shrubs in their yards. Get a life and allow the rangers to do their jobs.
Laurie January 17, 2014 at 03:59 PM
Hunters kill the beautiful, healthy, meaty deer. Natural predators kill the old, sickly animals. Since birth control is available, and these animals live in neighborhoods, which creates bonds with residents, their populations should be managed without hunting. But everyone screaming about hunting should stop eating meat from the grocery store. At least wild animals have an freedom for a while, whereas animals on factory farms live under miserable conditions!


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