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Program aims at preserving landscape in Gettysburg Parks by managing deer population

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In an effort to preserve historic sites, professional hunters will spend the next six months shooting deer inside the National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Almost every day, Howard Smith spends his morning walking in the Gettysburg National Military Park, with his wife. He says, "The scenery here is so gorgeous. We like taking pictures, meeting the people while walking."

Smith can credit the park management team for the landscape. But before 1995, deer were jeopardizing the forest.

Katie Lawhon, with the Gettysburg National Military Park says, "The farm fields and woodland areas. Literally there were so many deer, they were endangering the forest because there were few trees growing up and when you have no younger trees, there's not guarantee forest will be here in 50 years."

So in an effort to preserve the forest, park managers initiated the White Tail Deer Management program. Highly trained hunters reduce the number directly by shooting.

Zach Bolitho supervises the program. He says 3 to 4 people go out at a time, with rifles, after the park closes. He says the annual program is a long-term effort.

Bolitho says, "So if you come here in 150 years with your great, great, great grand kids, in 150 years, there will be a lot here, something directly, impacted from what we did today."

For visitors like Smith, the efforts are appreciated.

Smith says, "The beauty of the park, scenery, way it's maintained, very fortunate the National Park people have done such a great job here."

The program runs through March. All of the venison collected is donated to area food banks.