The season to take care of the overpopulation of white-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park starts today, the National Park Service announced in a press release riddled with euphemisms.
The “window of action for deer reduction” in the park runs from Dec. 2, 2014, through March 31, 2015. (That’s “deer season,” if you’re not trying to avoid alarming squeamish neighbors who might sue you.) The goal is to reduce the park’s deer population from nearly 40 per square mile to less than half that.
The park started the controversial deer management plan in 2013. Last year, according to NPS, the deer population was around 77 deer per square mile before the “reduction” efforts.
“A deer population density of 15-20 per square mile is ultimately needed for a healthy, diverse forest that supports native vegetation and other wildlife,” the press release reads. (Translated: “We really ought to be shooting about every other deer we see.”)
Trained firearm experts and wildlife biologists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will work with NPS resource management specialists, U.S. Park Police, and local law enforcement “to conduct reduction actions after dark.” (“The slaughter begins at nightfall.”)
The hunt will occur between 5 p.m. and 4 a.m. There will be road and trail closures “to provide for public safety during reduction activities.” (“We don’t want to shoot you, unless you’re a deer.”)
The following roads may be closed between 5 p.m. and 4 a.m., according to the release:
- Ross Drive NW
- Ridge Road NW south of Grant Road
- Glover Road NW south of the Rock Creek Park Horse Center
- Horse Stable Road NW
The following roads may also be closed between 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.
- Beach Drive NW
- Wise Road NW
- the entire length of Glover Road NW
- the entire length of Ridge Road NW
- Grant Road NW
- Sherrill Drive NW
- Joyce Road NW
- Morrow Drive NW
- West Beach Drive NW at Parkside Drive
- Stage Road NW
- Piney Branch Parkway NW
- Bingham Drive NW
According to NPS, the white-tailed deer population has damaged Rock Creek Park over the last 20 years by eating “nearly all tree and plant seedlings before they are able to grow.”
Correction: Due to a reporting error, this post originally stated the deer population was currently around 80 deer per square mile. That was the population in 2013. It is currently about 40 deer per square mile.
Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0