POSTPONED – April 12 (Tuesday) Public Meeting On Deer Management Plan at Manassas Battlefield National Park

UPDATE from National Park ServiceThe previously scheduled meetings regarding a White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) for Antietam and Monocacy National Battlefields and the Manassas National Battlefield Park have been postponed. The meetings were originally scheduled for April 12-14. No new dates have been set, and additional information will be released as soon as it becomes available.

The National Park Service has Bambi in the cross-hairs – finally.

There are waaaaaay too many deer at Manassas Battlefield, Antietam, and Monocacy Battlefield parks.  We have altered the natural pattern of field and forest, creating habitat on the battlefields that white-tailed deer just love.

The deer are eating themselves out of house and home, chomping down on all the vegetation they can reach.  There’s a browse line on the trees, and underneath the trees the native plants are being wiped out by grazing.  Other animals that depend upon those low-level plants are disappearing.  For example, wood thrush nests are exposed to predators, because the low-level vegetation that used to provide screening has disappeared.

During the 1800’s, local residents kept deer populations down through hunting.  The National Park Service has maintained some aspects of history at the Manassas Battlefield – old buildings, fences, and fields – but has not perpetuated the historical activities that controlled the deer.

Too many deer at the park have gone past being “cute” and become a nuisance.  Now the National Park Service is confronting the issue, preparing the environmental impact statement to assess the alternatives of no hunting, “controlled harvest,” or other mechanisms to protect the natural setting as well as the human history at three Civil War parks.

For years the Federal managers have ducked the problem, focusing on history as the natural values have been whittled away.  The obvious solution – reduce the number of deer to the normal levels by hunting – has already been implemented by Fairfax County at its parks and by the US Fish and Wildlife Service at its refuges.

To discuss the issues, park officials will host an Open Forum on Tuesday, April 12 from 6:00-8:00pm at the Manassas National Battlefield Park Visitor Center, 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas VA.  For more details, see the Antietam-Manassas-Monocacy Deer Management Plan and EIS website.

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