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Catoctin Mountain Park Announces the Availability of a White-tailed Deer Management Plan, Record of Decision

(7/15) The National Park Service announces the availability of the Record of Decision for the White-tailed Deer Management Plan for Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Maryland. On April 17, 2009, the Regional Director, National Capital Region approved the Record of Decision for the project. As soon as practicable, the National Park Service will begin to implement the Preferred Alternative contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued on December 12, 2008.

The final plan/EIS analyzed four alternatives, including a no action alternative (Alternative A), to support forest regeneration and provide long-term protection, conservation, and restoration of native species and cultural landscapes at Catoctin Mountain Park. The three action alternatives each used different combinations of non-lethal and lethal management tools to reduce the deer population and thus address declining forest regeneration and ensure that natural processes (including the presence of deer) support native vegetation, wildlife, and the cultural landscape of the park. All action alternatives included limited fencing, use of repellents around landscaped areas, deer and vegetation monitoring, data management, and research, as currently implemented under the no action alternative. Action alternatives also utilize an adaptive management strategy to better manage the changes deer population densities will have on vegetation recovery. By using an adaptive management approach, park managers may change the timing or intensity of management treatments to better meet the goals of the plan as new information is obtained.

Alternative B combined several non-lethal actions including large-scale exclosures (fencing), additional use of repellents in limited areas, and reproductive control of does to gradually reduce the deer population in the park. Alternative C, the selected alternative, includes lethal actions that will be used in combination to reduce and control deer herd numbers. Qualified federal employees or contractors will conduct sharpshooting to reduce the deer population. Individual deer will be captured and euthanized in certain circumstances where sharpshooting is not appropriate. Alternative D combined elements from alternatives B and C to include sharpshooting, capture and euthanasia, and reproductive control of does. For all alternatives, the full range of foreseeable environmental consequences was assessed and appropriate mitigating measures were identified.

The Record of Decision includes a description of the project's background, a statement of the decision made, synopses of other alternatives considered, the basis for the decision, findings on impairment of park resources and values, a description of the environmentally preferred alternative, a listing of measures to minimize environmental harm, and an overview of public involvement in the decision-making process. Copies of the Record of Decision may be obtained from the contact listed below or online at

Catoctin Mountain Park is one of 391 units administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The Park Visitor Center, located on State Route 77 three miles west of Thurmont, Maryland, is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Superintendent, Catoctin Mountain Park, 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788. Our website address is General information can be obtained by calling the Visitor Center at (301) 663-9388.