Park Service culls deer in DC, helps fill bellies

Amy ate a lot of deer growing up in Minnesota, Montana and Missouri.

I never developed much of a taste for it.

Bambi1Here, they cull kangeroos.

According to the N.Y. Times, the government sharpshooters worked so efficiently in the dead of the night in Rock Creek Park that by the end of this year’s short killing season, they had shot 106 white-tailed deer.

Make that 3,300 pounds of local venison turned into meatloaf, burgers and more for the surprised directors of homeless shelters and other charities across the capital.

Despite local protesters who say the killings are cruel, the goal remains culling the deer population down to no more than 20 deer per square mile from 77 per square mile counted last fall. Armed with small-caliber rifles, professional sharpshooters from the Department of Agriculture first started killing deer in a one-night operation in March last year. The herd thinning quietly picked up again over five nights from January to March this year.

Now, to help the homeless and to make sure that the dead deer are not simply discarded — an action that would further outrage local residents — the National Park Service has the meat inspected and processed and then gives it to D.C. Central Kitchen. Using donated ingredients, the kitchen cooks and distributes 5,000 meals a day to community centers and shelters.

“It would be really sad if the National Park Service had to kill all these deer and throw the meat away,” said Paul Day, a spokesman for D.C. Central Kitchen.