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National Park Service to Kill Deer in Rock Creek Park in ‘Humane Way’


The National Park Service (NPS) has announced that it will conduct “deer management operations” in Rock Creek Park beginning Monday, November 16, to protect native plants.

A number of streets in Rock Creek Park will be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic between dusk and dawn through March 31, 2021 for the program.

Biologists, who are also trained firearms experts from the US Department of Agriculture, will be hunting white-tailed deer under the direction of NPS and in coordination with US Park Police and local law enforcement during this period.

The program that aims “to protect and restore native plants and promote healthy and diverse forests” will include other areas under Rock Creek Park’s management for the first time. Melvin Hazen Park, Soapstone Valley Park, Pinehurst Parkway, Glover Archbold Park, Battery Kemble Park and Fort Totten Park are among these areas.

The NPS has been reducing the deer population in Rock Creek Park since 2013, and the park’s tree seedling density has more than doubled since then, according to a statement from the agency. The area has been damaged by white-tailed deer over the past 20 years, the statement adds.

The NPS says in its deer management plan that it will carry out the killing “as humanely as possible” by implementing euthanasia on the ones that are injured during the hunt.

“Extensive safety measures will be in place to protect park visitors and neighbors during operations,” the agency says. “NPS staff will be posted during temporary night-time road and trail closures for visitor and employee safety during reduction activities. Commuters, including cyclists, are advised to plan alternate routes.”

Around 1,320 lbs of venison was produced as a result of the latest NPS-orchestrated deer hunt in Rock Creek Park in 2019-2020. The NPS donated it to DC Central Kitchen, which provides free meals to District residents in need. This year’s venison will also be donated to charities.

The following roads will remain open at all times:

Piney Branch Parkway

Broad Branch Road

Roads to be temporarily closed during operations:

Bingham Drive NW, which is closed to vehicle traffic for a sewer rehabilitation project, will remain closed.

The NPS may temporarily close the following roads between 5 pm to 4 am to conduct deer management operations:

Horse Stable Road NW

Ridge Road NW, south of Grant Road NW

Glover Road NW, south of the Rock Creek Park Horse Center

Temporary road closures from 6:45 pm to 4 am may include:

Wise Road NW

Ridge Road NW

Glover Road NW

Grant Road NW

Joyce Road NW

Morrow Drive NW

West Beach Drive NW at Parkside Drive NW

Stage Road NW

Beach Drive between Joyce Road NW and Picnic Grove 10

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