Deer Management Plan: Lethal vs. Preventative

Deer Management Plan: Lethal vs. Preventative

"At this point our preferred alternative is a combination of looking at many different ways of managing deer. From lethal management, shooting deer, to possibly looking at contraceptive methods as well those continue to develop," said Trail.
SHARPSBURG, Md. - Oh, deer!? Oh, too many deer!

Always a hot topic, birth control. But what about birth control for deer?

The deer population needs to be managed and Monocacy, Manassas and Antietam National Battlefields, along with the National Park Service think they have a plan.

"We've realized that our deer populations have continued to grow and that they're having a major impact on our ability to manage the historic landscapes in terms of their impacts on native vegetation,” said Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent, Susan Trail.

And the deer population at Antietam has grown, the average number of deer per-square-mile should be 20 to 25. Antietam has around 100 deer per-square-mile. That’s four times the average.

So what's the plan?

"At this point our preferred alternative is a combination of looking at many different ways of managing deer. From lethal management, shooting deer, to possibly looking at contraceptive methods as well those continue to develop," said Trail.

Contraceptives have only been used on deer that are captive. This would be a new approach.

One of the problems with contraception? Each individual doe would have to receive the contraceptive chemicals.

The other option would be to hire sharp shooters which would be much more cost effective than deer contraceptives. Plus, the meat would be donated to local food banks.

An environmental impact study done by the National Park Service regarding the deer management plan included a public review and comment period.

And now they're waiting for the study to be finalized before applying for funding.

"And then we would look at a maintenance program for maintaning numbers at a target level whether that would continute to be through lethal methods or being able to look at developing other methods. So this would be an ongoing program once we've started it," said Trail.

The plan, whether that turns out to be through elimination or preventative, would be implemented by 2017.

Antietam National Battlefield's Natural Resource Department is surveying the park Thursday night, using spotlights, to get a more accurate reading on the number of deer that call Antietam home.
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