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Meeting called to discuss NPS culling deer proposal in Manassas

By Leigh Goessl     Aug 28, 2013 in Environment
Manassas - A public meeting is being held at the Manassas National Battlefield Park to discuss the overpopulation of deer. One of the solutions being proposed is a controversial culling of the deer. The meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
The deer population has exploded in Manassas and officials say it has been having a negative impact on the grounds as Manassas National Battlefield Park. The park, which is run by the National Park Service (NPS), has 165 deer per square mile in the 8-square-mile part said officials, according to a Washington Post report.
My Fox DC reported it is estimated there are 1,300 deer, which is a much larger population than there should be, say experts.
Impact of the deer grazing on the land reportedly has been "drastic" and park officials are looking to find a solution. Officials say there is a notable "browse-line" where the deer have created a notable bareness of vegetation on the ground.
Ideas include birth control and large fences being built, however officials at Manassas National Battlefield Park say the short-term option would be to hunt the deer to bring down the numbers.
Reportedly, in addition to the deer eating the vegetation, officials say the animals increase disease and cause hazards to drivers on the very busy roads that are adjacent to the battlefield. It is said the deer have also been infringing on private properties in the area, eating gardens.
It is very common to see groups of deer grazing, even in broad daylight, along the sides of the road or on the property at Northern Virginia Community College, which also neighbors the battlefield.
A deer grazing in winter 2013 at Northern Virginia Community College  located in Manassas  Va.
A deer grazing in winter 2013 at Northern Virginia Community College, located in Manassas, Va.
A meeting to discuss the issue and potential solution of culling the deer has been scheduled for Thurs., Aug. 29 and will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Manassas Battlefield National Park Visitor Center on Sudley Road, in Manassas. This meeting will allow for public feedback on the controversial issue. Previous plans to cull deer in other locations in the Washington region have led to protests and an unsuccessful lawsuit, reported Washington Post.
“People have an affinity for large furry animals, so we certainly expect some interest,” park Superintendent Ed W. Clark said, reported the Post. “But looking at a way to manage the herd is a smart thing to undertake, and it’s us doing our job to be good stewards of the Manassas National Battlefield Park.”
Opponents of previous plans in other parks say there are better ways to handle this than going ahead with a hunt, such as birth control methods. Similar controversy has been taking place in several regions of the U.S.
Earlier this year, NPR reported on the controversy at Rock Creek Park, located in Washington, D.C., where the program did proceed after a court ruled in favor with NPS. The deer meat was donated to local food pantries.
If the plan were to move forward in Manassas, it appears it would be heavily controlled and not open to the public. The decision will also affect two other national battlefields, in Antietam and Mococacy. According to NPS, meetings scheduled to be held at all three locations this week.
According to the Manassas Patch, authorities said they will analyze the results and determine how to proceed next year.
More about Manassas Battlefield, Deer, Overpopulation, overpopulation of deer, manassas National Battlefield Park
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