CAMP SHELBY, MS (WDAM) - The number of deer roaming freely at Camp Shelby will soon be dropping.
The National Guard has begun a new management operation, which involves the shooting and removing of deer from areas of the post that are off limits to the public.
Bryan Fedrick, wildlife biologist for the Mississippi National Guard, said it is being done to decrease the chances of disease in the deer population and protect soldiers from tick-borne diseases.
He also said the large numbers of deer could attract predators, which could threaten endangered species also living on the post.
"Right now, we're roughly at (one) deer per six to seven acres and that is extremely high," said Fedrick. "Where we want to be is a deer per every about 20 acres. Once we get to where we need to be as far as deer per 20 acres, then that's where we stop (the operation)."
Fedrick also said a lower deer population should decrease the chances of vehicle impacts.
Fedrick believes local hunters will benefit from the program.
"It's really going to increase their experience, make their deer-hunting experience better, because these deer will start pushing off of (non-public lands)," Fedrick said. "I don't think it's going to negatively impact, I think if anything, it will positively impact the public's hunting experience."
Fedrick said only a few members of Camp Shelby's environmental staff will be allowed to take part in the operation.
Each participant will have a proper permit.
Fedrick also said the National Guard is partnering with the Mississippi Wildlife Federation to process the deer meat for Hunter's Harvest, an organization that supports soup kitchens that feed the hungry.