NIH to Begin Deer Management Program at Bethesda Campus

NIH to Begin Deer Management Program at Bethesda Campus

Officials say deer population on enclosed campus is unsustainable

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A deer management plan is being undertaken at the 322-acre National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda.

via NIH Record

The white-tailed deer on the campus of the National Institutes of Health are often a “welcome sight”, according to NIH officials, but their population has grown to the point where a management plan is needed.

NIH announced Friday in its NIH Record it is beginning a deer management plan to prevent the herd at its 322-acre enclosed campus from growing. To do so, NIH veterinary staff is teaming up with “trained doctoral deer population control experts” to anesthetize and neuter adult female deer living on the campus. Officials described it as a 10 to 15-minute process that’s less invasive than spaying a cat or dog.

“After look at all options, particularly non-lethal methods, the NIH identified the most effective approach that will manage, stabilize and potentially reduce the population in a long-term, safe, humane and socially and biologically acceptable manner,” said Dr. Alfred Johnson, the NIH official responsible for the deer management plan, in a statement.

NIH officials estimate the herd is about 30 to 40 deer in total, but say the campus has the ability to only support 26 deer. The management plan will start this month and is expected to take place periodically over the next four years.

The deer have no natural predators on the campus, except for the occasional bear.

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