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Non-Native Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement

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Release of Final Non-Native Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Point Reyes National Seashore

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today the release of the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) Non-Native Deer Management Plan: Protecting the Seashore's Native Ecosystems, Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS has been developed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Notice of Availability for the FEIS in the Federal Register on August 18, 2006.

This FEIS is an important document for PRNS, setting forth how the park will protect the long-term health of its ecosystems, especially the preservation of native black-tailed deer and tule elk populations. It also meets park objectives for preserving native ecosystems from invasive non-native species. Public involvement has been a key element in the development of the plan over a four-year planning period.

The FEIS documents that the presence of invasive non-native axis and fallow deer is extremely disruptive to the natural ecosystem at PRNS. Some of the more serious effects these non-native deer have at the Seashore include competition with and displacement of native tule elk and black-tailed deer, the potential for transmitting paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) and exotic lice to native ungulates, damage to riparian and woodland habitats, and indirect impacts to the native wildlife dependent on this habitat. Fallow deer have been documented to cause denudation of significant areas of woodland and riparian areas during the breeding season. They have also been shown to cause trailing, girdling of young trees and trampling of riparian vegetation. Both axis and fallow deer consume the same plant species as native deer and elk. Loss of riparian habitat can affect a number of species at PRNS, including several Threatened or Endangered species, such as California red-legged frog, coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Fallow and axis deer also affect Seashore ranchers by damaging fences and by depredating livestock pastures and supplemental livestock feed.

The five alternatives presented in the FEIS differ primarily in their approaches to deer population control and in desired future numbers of deer. The NPS preferred alternative (Alternative E) would completely remove both species of non-native deer from the Seashore by 2021 using a combination of long-acting contraceptives and lethal removal. This alternative responds to public comment by using both non-lethal and lethal methods to remove the two invasive species. The park will use contraception on as many females as possible and humanely remove others. NPS will donate meat and hides to non-profit or charity organizations. Issues raised during public scoping were incorporated in the analysis and are discussed in the document. A number of alternatives calling for use of non-lethal control methods alone (such as relocation, fencing and contraception) were considered but dismissed as infeasible or unlikely to achieve the objectives of the plan.

The FEIS is posted on the Point Reyes National Seashore website at

The official responsible for the final decision on the Non-Native Deer Management Plan/FEIS is the NPS Regional Director of the Pacific West Region. A Record of Decision, describing the selected alternative and project commitments, will be signed by the Regional Director no sooner than 30 days after the listing by the EPA of the FEIS Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. Once the Record of Decision is signed, a notice to that effect will be published in the Federal Register and in local newspapers. Following the issuance of the Record of Decision, implementation is the responsibility of the Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore.

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