Deer culling operations will resume next month in Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site as officials continue to reduce the white-tailed deer population to prevent over-browsing of vegetation.
This will be the second fall that marksmen head out into the two units to kill deer. All venison will be donated to area food banks.
"Management of white-tailed deer at Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks has reduced the impacts of past deer damage to historic woodlots and farm fields. We must continue the management program to maintain this recovery," said Superintendent Bob Kirby.
An important purpose of the herd reduction is to support forest regeneration in historic woodlots that played a role in the fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg. The management program also provides for the long-term protection, conservation and restoration of native species and cultural landscapes.
"Long-term forest monitoring at Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks indicates that more seedlings and saplings are living to become trees than in the 1990's," said Zach Bolitho, the park's chief of resource management. "We're making progress in healthier landscapes here."
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.