Point Pelee National Park will be temporarily closed to visitors for about two weeks as Parks Canada and Caldwell First Nation conduct a "deer reduction activity."
Parks Canada says the activity conducted between Jan. 7 and 21 will help ensure the long-term health of Point Pelee National Park’s “sensitive ecosystems.”
“Parks Canada is responsible for maintaining and restoring ecological integrity in national parks. A high population (hyperabundance) of white-tailed deer is a serious threat to forest and savannah health at Point Pelee National Park,” a Parks Canada news release said.
Officials say the deer in the park are consuming and damaging native plants faster than they can regenerate, threatening the health of the Carolinian forest, which is home to a number of species at risk such as the Red Mulberry Tree, Eastern-wood peewee and Eastern Foxsnake.
“A series of mild winters with light snow cover and a lack of natural predators, such as wolves and cougars, have allowed the park’s white-tailed deer population to grow to two times higher than what can be sustained,” Parks Canada said. “Population reduction is reserved for situations of absolute necessity and Parks Canada has been collaborating with Caldwell First Nation for a number of years to actively manage the deer population to protect the park’s sensitive ecosystems.”
Based on more than 30 years of research and monitoring, officials say a healthy and balanced environment at Point Pelee National Park would ideally support 24 to 32 deer.
The park will reopen as usual on Jan. 22, 2021.