Antietam-Manassas-Monocacy Deer Management Plan and EIS
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WASHINGTON—The National Park Service (NPS) has approved a white-tailed deer management plan to protect long term forest health and preserve the historic settings at three battlefields in the national capital region. The plan calls for reducing deer populations over a number of years in addition to other management techniques. An overabundance of deer is negatively affecting the resources these battlefields were set aside to preserve and protect. In addition to altering historic landscape composition, the deer are limiting the growth of seedlings needed to maintain forested areas over time.
The Record of Decision for the Antietam National Battlefield (Md.), Monocacy National Battlefield (Md.) and Manassas National Battlefield Park (Va.) White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (plan/FEIS) formally adopts Alternative D, which was described as the NPS preferred alternative in the plan/FEIS.
Full implementation of the selected alternative is dependent on the acquisition of funding needed to support population control efforts. Until funding is available, the NPS will continue current deer management actions.
Under the selected action, the NPS will continue current park deer management actions and may add additional techniques such as fencing off crops and woodlots; changing crop configurations or selecting to substitute crops that are less palatable to deer; and using aversive conditioning to prevent some of the negative impacts of the overabundance of deer.
The approved plan/FEIS calls for taking lethal actions initially to quickly reduce the deer herd numbers, but allows flexibility to consider population management with non-lethal means, such as reproductive control methods, if they are available and meet specific criteria.
The plan/FEIS was prepared by the NPS as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the FEIS described and analyzed the environmental impacts of taking no new action or following one of three action alternatives to manage the deer population in the parks.
The final plan/EIS was released to the public for the required 30-day no-action period beginning August 1, 2014 and ending September 3, 2014. During development of the plan/FEIS, which began in 2010, the NPS hosted three public meetings and held three public comment periods. The NPS planning team analyzed feedback received during the initial public scoping phase to begin drafting the plan and convened a team of scientists to inform the planning process. Based on that input, the NPS developed the range of management alternatives and analyzed the impacts of those alternatives.
The FEIS and the Record of Decision are available online and also available for viewing at Antietam National Battlefield, Monocacy National Battlefield, and Manassas National Battlefield Park Headquarters.