Professional hunters have resumed efforts to cull the deer population inside Valley Forge National Historical Park as officials try to reduce it to sustainable levels.
The hunts that sparked opposition and a federal lawsuit three years ago resumed in November.Park officials say they’re necessary because the deer population has grown rapidly as natural predators are pushed out by development.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the deer population density was as high as 291 per square mile before the hunts began, well above the 35 per square mile park officials consider sustainable.
Two years of hunting have brought the population to about 71 per square mile.
The park says the huge deer population was stripping forests of ground cover and forcing out other species. Hunting will continue through March.