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Hunters may be hired to kill 2,800 deer on Civil War battlefields

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Scott Bauer, US Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Civil War battlefields may soon light up with gunfire once again if a new plan to "reduce" deer populations gets approved. The US National Parks Service has proposed a $1.8 million plan to hire sharpshooters to hunt and kill white-tailed deer at three Civil War battlefields over the next five years.

Deer populations at the Antietam and Monocacy battlefields, located in Maryland, as well as the Manassas battlefield in Virginia, are far above desired levels. The public is prohibited from hunting on the parkland, and populations have reached as high as 230 deer per square mile at Monocacy. The Parks Service hopes to bring those numbers down to 15 or 20 per square mile, reports the Associated Press.

The proposed plan would call for a maximum of 2,800 deer to be killed over the next five years. Once populations are brought to an acceptable level, the Parks Service hopes to use chemical contraceptives to maintain the herds' numbers. Why all the bloodshed? The Parks Service says that the large deer populations are damaging flora and the agency's efforts to preserve the historical sites. A public review period extends until September 3rd, at which time the agency will decide whether it will go through with the plan.