FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Army officials say an unexpected consequence of the September 11 terrorist attacks is too many deer at Fort Detrick.
The white-tailed deer population on the 800-acre post has vastly increased because the Army suspended annual recreational archery hunts at the post for security reasons in 2002 and 2003, officials said.
Sharpshooters killed 100 deer at the post last winter, and they could be used again to help thin the herd.
"In a period of three years, deer population can double," said George Timko, urban deer biologist for Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
Add more years and the population grows exponentially. By last winter, the post's deer population had increased to 145 — more than seven times the number that authorities consider ideal, said Bob Craig, the fort's environmental coordinator.
The resumption of bow hunting three years ago barely slowed the growth, Mr. Craig told the Frederick News-Post.
Last year, the Army consulted with the Agriculture Department, which recommended cutting the herd by 100. Marksmen using high-velocity, silencer-equipped rifles killed deer on two nights, Feb. 28 and March 1, until the quota was reached, the newspaper reported.
An additional 25 deer will be eliminated this winter, Mr. Craig said. The Army says bow hunting, supplemented as needed by sharpshooting, will be used to maintain a herd of 20 to 25 animals.
Meat from the slaughtered deer is distributed to community food banks and homeless shelters, Mr. Craig said.
Kevin Sullivan of the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services said the goal is not to eliminate all the deer at Fort Detrick.
"People like to see deer," he said. "That habitat will maintain a healthy deer population."