HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The National Park Service says it wants to kill more than 2,800 white-tailed deer at three Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia to reduce damage to forests and other vegetation.

The agency would then use chemical contraceptives to maintain an acceptable deer density, assuming an appropriate reproductive control agent becomes available.

The combination of lethal and nonlethal measures is the agency’s preferred alternative for managing deer herds at the Antietam and Monocacy battlefields in Maryland and the Manassas battlefield in Virginia.

Professional sharpshooters would kill the deer over a four-year period. Manassas would see the biggest slaughter, with more than 1,600 animals targeted.

The meat would be donated to food banks.

The draft plan for battlefield deer management is open for public comment through Sept. 27.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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