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Park Service Plans To Reduce Deer Numbers With Sharpshooters

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Saying the large numbers of white-tailed deer in three national battlefields are having adverse effects on orchards, crops and other wildlife, the National Park Service on Monday released its proposal to reduce the deer population by using sharpshooters.

The proposals are for the national battlefields at Antietam in Sharpsburg, Monocacy in Frederick and Manassas in Virginia.

The reduced deer populations would be maintained by nonsurgical reproductive control methods if possible, but sharpshooting could also be used.

The Park Service would also fence crops and woodlots to keep deer from destroying vegetation.

The agency said deer density at the three parks has been high since population monitoring began in 2001. Studies have shown that deer are interfering with seedling regeneration and herbaceous cover, which affect habitat quality for other wildlife.

The agency also said chronic wasting disease is an imminent threat that could be mitigated by reducing deer density.

The agency will conduct meetings this month to get comments from the public:

Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center -- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 27.

Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center -- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 28.

Manassas National Battlefield Park Visitor Center -- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 29.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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