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Posted at 09:11 PM ET, 05/30/2012

Rock Creek deer to be thinned to protect park

The National Park Service has approved a plan to protect vegetation in Rock Creek Park by reducing the deer population, the agency announced Wednesday.

The plan, approved May 1, will use lethal and non-lethal methods, such as sharpshooters and birth control. Park officials said it is needed to protect and restore vegetation in the park because the deer population continues to grow.

In the 1960s, park officials recorded four sightings of white-tailed deer in the park, according to a news release. In 2011, officials said they recorded 80 deer per square mile. Rock Creek is about 4 square miles.

Park officials said they will continue their existing program of monitoring the deer population and protecting plants and landscaping with fencing. But they will also use sharpshooters and a capture and euthanize program to reduce the deer herd.

Sharpshooting will occur primarily at night during late fall and winter.

Sterilization and other birth control methods will be used to maintain the reduced herd.

The plan will be used to guide deer management in the park for the next 15 years, park superintendent Tara Morrison said in a news release.

More details can be found at the National Park Service’s website.

By Washington Post editors  |  09:11 PM ET, 05/30/2012

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