A regimented deer hunt will begin next week in Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, where white-tailed deer would overrun the units if left alone, according to park officials.
Park officials plan to reduce the deer herds in the two units beginning in October and lasting into next March, if needed. The two parks will reduce the number of deer in the parks directly by shooting. All venison will be donated to area food banks. Hunting is not permitted inside the two parks--only qualified federal employees will take part in the effort to reduce the herd.
"Managing white-tailed deer is unfortunately a necessary part of preserving the Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks. The intense browsing by high numbers of deer compromises our ability to protect historic woodlots and farm fields, as well as our ability to tell the story of these two parks," said Superintendent Bob Kirby.
The deer management program will continue through the end of March. Annual deer reductions will continue from October through March each year, as necessary. A deer reduction community safety committee is consulted on matters of public safety related to the program. The committee is composed of the local Pennsylvania Game Commission officer, the chiefs of police from Gettysburg Borough and Cumberland Township, the chairman of the Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission, and the park superintendent, chief ranger, and biologist.
In 1995, an Environmental Impact Statement described and considered a variety of options for meeting park objectives for deer management, including public hunting, relocation, and the use of sterilization and contraception. Hundreds of people participated in the public review of the EIS and many commented on it in writing. The NPS decided to reduce the number of deer in the parks through shooting.
The park conducts monitoring of the deer population and long term forest monitoring to help assess the program and set deer management goals. A deer density goal of 25 deer per square mile of forest was established in the EIS and the park continues to manage deer to meet this goal.