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Rock Creek Park In Washington, D.C., Latest To Turn To Culling Deer Herd


You can add Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., to the slowly growing list of parks that have turned to lethal means to tamp down burgeoning populations of ungulates, whether they are elk or deer.

The National Park Service last week OKed a plan to cull the park's deer herd so as to protect the forests and shrubs from being browsed out of existence.

"After extensive public participation and input, we now have the tools to guide deer management in Rock Creek Park for the next 15 years," said park Superintendent Tara Morrison ina press release. "This decision will allow us to start restoring native vegetation, protecting the diverse communities of plants and animals that live here, and preserving the natural and cultural resources in Rock Creek Park for this and future generations."

Under the park's Final White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, the adopted alternative allows the Park Service to "continue current park deer management actions, including monitoring the deer population, protecting certain native plants and ornamental landscaping with fencing, and continuing educational activities to inform the public about deer ecology and park resource issues."

"The park also will use a combination of certain additional lethal and non-lethal actions to reduce the deer population," the release continued. "Since 1991, data gathered from the park's vegetation monitoring program clearly show that nearly all tree and shrub seedlings are being browsed by deer before they have a chance to grow. Protecting the park's native vegetation is a key objective of the FEIS."

You can find a copy of the Record of Decision online at this site. It also is posted on the park's website.

Other parks that have turned to lethal means or birth control to reduce herds of deer or elk include Valley Forge National Historical Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Also professional hunters were used at Point Reyes National Seashore to kill the non-native fallow deer and axis deer. There had been signs along California Highway 1 protesting the decision and advocating that birth control or sterilization methods be used instead. The hunt was conducted at night from helicopters.

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