Deer culling at Gettysburg National Military Park will resume in October as officials work to tamp down the herds so vegetation has a better chance to grow.
Culling, by sharpshooters, also will take place at Eisenhower National Historic Site.
In response to an outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease in Adams County, Pennsylvania, last October, the Park Service made immediate changes to its deer management program. The NPS and state staff cooperatively tested all deer taken through the program for the presence of the disease. All deer tested negative for CWD. Once deer had tested negative, venison was distributed to local food banks, including the Adams County South Central Community Action Program and the Maryland Food Bank.
Testing of all deer taken through the program will continue this year. All venison from deer that test negative for the disease will once again be donated to area food banks.
It is important to note that no CWD has been found in wild deer populations in Pennsylvania or at Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS, a park release noted. While there is no current evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, this question is an ongoing area of research and the Park Service will take a cautious and careful approach to donation of meat until surveillance testing results indicate a high level of confidence that CWD does not exist in the local deer population.
“We continue to manage white-tailed deer at Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks in order to control the damage they do to historic woodlots and farm fields,” said Superintendent Bob Kirby.
An important purpose of managing the deer population is supporting forest regeneration in historic woodlots that played a role in the fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg. The management programs also provides for the long-term protection, conservation and restoration of native species and cultural landscapes. Hunting is not permitted inside the two parks--only qualified federal employees take part in the efforts to reduce the herd.
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 deer management program will continue through the end of March, and continue each year as necessary. A deer reduction community safety committee is consulted on matters of public safety related to the program.
In addition to monitoring the deer population each spring, the park does long-term forest monitoring to help assess the program and set deer management goals.