NPS - National Park Service

05/04/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/04/2021 09:55

National Parks in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. provide more than 44,000 meals of donated venison to neighbors

May 4, 2021
Contact: Megan Nortrup, 202-339-8314

WASHINGTON-Seven national parks in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have concluded this year's annual operations to reduce overabundant white-tailed deer. These parks donated more than 11,000 pounds of venison to local nonprofit organizations that will serve approximately 44,000 meals to families in need.

Before any donation, all parks professionally process deer and participate in a chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling program. To date all results have been negative for CWD, providing a high level of confidence that CWD does not currently exist in the deer populations in these parks. If any results from future deer management indicate the presence of CWD, the venison testing positive would not be donated.

While these seven national parks preserve different aspects of America's history and natural treasures, all have suffered from the effects of high deer populations. Overabundant deer populations damage plants and eat nearly all tree seedlings preventing forests from sustaining themselves. Deer also damage agricultural crops, which are a key component of the historic setting at many Civil War battlefields. These national parks manage deer to support long-term protection and restoration of native plants and to promote healthy and diverse ecosystems.

Deer management has produced positive results at area national parks. Rock Creek Park which began deer management in 2013, has seen tree seedling numbers more than double and Catoctin Mountain Park which has managed deer since 2010 has seen more than an 11-fold increase in tree seedling numbers. 

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park conducted its first year of deer management in 2021. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and Manassas National Battlefield Park conducted their third deer management operations in 2021. Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield conducted their fifth seasons of deer reduction activities. Rock Creek Park completed its eighth season of deer management. Each park follows a deer management plan, developed with public input, according to the National Environmental Policy Act.  

The following nonprofits received venison donations this year:

National park

Venison donated

Local nonprofit

Antietam National Battlefield

2,240 lbs

Maryland Food Bank

Catoctin Mountain Park

1,959 lbs

HELP Hotline, Thurmont Food Bank, Montgomery County Police Community Engagement

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

360 lbs

Maryland Food Bank

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

690 lbs

Maryland Food Bank

Manassas National Battlefield Park

3,572 lbs

Christian Ministry Food Bank

Monocacy National Battlefield

1,320 lbs

Maryland Food Bank

Rock Creek Park

900 lbs

DC Central Kitchen


11,041 lbs