- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THURMONT, Md. (AP) - Managers of Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont say that after seven years of sharpshooting, the white-tailed deer herd has reached a sustainable size.

Acting Superintendent Ed Wenschhof said in a statement Tuesday that federal sharpshooters killed 76 deer in the national park this season. Nearly 1,200 have been killed since the program began in early 2010, producing more than 15 tons of venison for food banks.

Wenschhof says biologists estimate the deer density at 15 to 20 per square mile. That’s down from 123 per square mile when the program began.

He says the smaller herd has led to a nearly tenfold increase in native tree seedlings per acre.

Wenschhof says park staff will monitor the situation and conduct future deer-reduction operations as needed to maintain the herd size.

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