Civil War Battlefields Are Overrun With Deer

The Parks Department is going to spend $1.8 million to have hunters cull them

White Tailed Deer
Donald M. Jones/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Antietam, Manassas and Monocacy battlefields were once the site of bloody battles during the American Civil War, but now they’ve been overrun by a different sort of invader: white-tailed deer.

Already the bane of gardeners, white-tailed deer are now creating problems for vegetation at the historic locations, leading the National Parks Service to propose a $1.8 million plan to have sharpshooters kill up to 2,800 deer at the sites over the course of five years. At all of the sites the deer per square mile ratio has soared above 130. A healthy deer population density is considered to be 15 to 20 deer per square mile. 

One of the reasons that deer have gained such a large hoofhold on the sites is that hunting is prohibited in the parks. But the plan to employ sharpshooters to take care of the problem is being criticized by hunters, who are convinced that ordinary hunters could effectively reduce the deer population.  

"It's ridiculous for taxpayers to pay $1.8 million to have deer taken off a property," Deer & Deer Hunting magazine editor Daniel Schmidt told the Associated Press.

The Parks Service is expected to make a formal decision on the plan after the period for public review ends on September 3. 

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