In November 2010, VOF began managing the deer population through a pre-approved, insured stewardship committee at our Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve (BRMNAP). Hunting is allowed only by the stewardship committee and is restricted to deer. The preserve will be closed on days where there is hunting, and the preserve entrances will be clearly marked with notice of the closure. For closure announcements, click here.
Why manage deer in the preserve?
The primary objective of natural areas stewardship is to provide for the continued presence of natural heritage resources. The overriding goal at BRMNAP is a restored and functioning ecosystem with a matrix of communities native to the site. Preserve-level management and monitoring actions, as well as cooperative management initiatives and protection strategies, are planned based on the best current information and available resources.
Primary objectives for BRMNAP include:
- Maintain and restore the natural communities.
- Maintain and restore populations of rare plants and animals.
- Manage habitat to benefit other natural resources, scenic resources and historic resources.
- Evaluate effects of management on plants, animals, and natural communities.
- Ensure visitor safety and site-security.
- Provide for natural resources protection.
Secondary objectives for BRMNAP include:
- Increase public awareness of the preserve through appropriate public access and education.
- Foster research to accomplish conservation goals and contribute to the body of knowledge on the flora, fauna, and natural communities of Virginia.
The management plan for BRMNAP prepared by Division of Natural Heritage of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recommends reduction of the current deer population. Due to overabundance, certain native species of animals have become problematic. While these species are native to Virginia, their recent population increases have resulted in negative effects on habitat. Overabundance of some species is often incompatible with a broad array of resource management objectives. For ecological reasons, natural resource managers must often control burgeoning populations of native animals. Results of the ecological community inventory of BRMNAP, coupled with deer density data for Prince William and Fauquier Counties, indicate that there are currently in excess of 100 deer per square mile.
A large body of research demonstrates that dense populations of deer negatively impact tree regeneration, alter natural community composition, eliminate certain plant species, and disrupt bird populations. Deer also avoid browsing on invasive non-native plants. Overly abundant deer are a problem and a deer management program via regulated hunting needs to be enacted to reduce the local herd to a sustainable density.
The preserve is currently open from sunrise to sunset. Some trails, including those to the High Point area, are closed for restoration.