The National Park Service has tentatively approved a plan that envisions government sharpshooters killing more than 2,800 white-tailed deer at three Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia over the next five years to curb damage to plants and trees.
The agency aims to reduce herds that it says are over-browsing vegetation at the Antietam and Monocacy battlefields in Maryland and the Manassas battlefield in Virginia.
Spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said Friday that the number of deer to be killed would depend on how quickly the forest regenerates.
The park service says with public hunting prohibited in the parks, the deer population has become too dense.
The government's growing use of sharpshooters from the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services division to control wild animals on federal land has been criticized by hunting proponents and animal-welfare advocates.