From the National Park Service:
“The upcoming window of action for deer reduction in Rock Creek Park will be November 15, 2016 through March 31, 2017. This is the fifth operational window for the Rock Creek Park White-tailed Deer Management Plan. Temporary night-time road closures will be in effect to provide for visitor and employee safety during reduction activities. Commuters, including cyclists, are advised to plan alternate routes.
Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during operations. Biologists, who are also highly trained firearms experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be working under the direction of National Park Service (NPS) resource management specialists and in coordination with U.S. Park Police and local law enforcement to conduct reduction actions at night when the park is normally closed.
The following road closures in NW D.C. may be in effect from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. when operations are underway:
Ridge Road south of Grant Road
Glover Road south of the Rock Creek Horse Center
Horse Stable Road
The following additional temporary closures between 8:30 p.m. and 4 a.m. may be in effect during operations:
Beach Drive between Piney Branch Parkway and the Klingle Road/Porter Street interchange
Beach Drive from Tilden Street to the Maryland boundary
17th Street from the Woodner Apartments to Piney Branch Parkway
Piney Branch Parkway
Porter Street ramp to Beach Drive east of Williamsburg Lane
Blagden Avenue west of Mathewson Drive
Broad Branch Road east of Ridge Road
Entire length of Glover Road
Entire length of Ridge Road
West Beach Drive at Parkside Drive
History of White-tailed Deer in Rock Creek Park
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are common throughout North and Central America. Without natural predators and with favorable habitat, deer have flourished in Rock Creek Park. Before 1960, there were no recorded sightings of white-tailed deer in the park. By the early 1990s, sightings were so frequent that the park stopped recording them. Their numbers in the last decade have reached up to nearly 100 per square mile at its peak.
Over the last 20 years, this overabundant white-tailed deer population has negatively impacted Rock Creek Park. The deer are damaging vegetation and eating nearly all the tree seedlings and compromising the ability of the Rock Creek Park’s forest from sustaining itself. The high number of deer is also destroying smaller trees and shrubs that provide critical habitat for native birds and other wildlife. If deer populations go unmanaged, this wildlife will not have food and shelter.
As the area around Rock Creek Park becomes more developed, the park is increasingly important as a refuge for plants and wildlife. It’s critical – as well as required by NPS management policies — that the natural resources which sustain the park’s wildlife be protected.
Rock Creek Park conducted an Environmental Impact Statement and an extensive public process to create a plan, finalized in 2012, that calls for quickly reducing the size of the population to allow for a healthy, diverse forest that supports native vegetation and other wildlife. Once the herd size is at a healthy level, management efforts will work to maintain a sustainable deer population, which could be carried out through both lethal and non-lethal means.
After reduction operations, the National Park Service donates all suitable venison to food banks that serve needy families and homeless shelters in the Washington, D.C. area.”