01/28/2015 08:56 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT

72 deer eliminated from Point Pelee National Park

About 72 deer were eliminated from Point Pelee National Park, in Leamington, Ont., following a two-week deer cull.

Research at Point Pelee shows that “over-browsing by deer is significantly threatening the forest and savannah ecosystems in the park," according to park officials.​

An aerial survey conducted prior to the cull counted 189 deer.

"The taking of 72 deer, although it may seem like a lot is just really putting us on the path to get down to optimal numbers that won't be damaging our park ecosystem," said Tammy Dobbie, an ecologist at Point Pelee.

The cull was undertaken by park staff and members of the Caldwell First Nation, who harvested the meat and hides for traditional uses.

Optimal number between 24 and 32 deer

Dobbie said the park has about four square kilometres of forested area suitable for deer.

"The actually optimal number that we're looking for that we think will help protect the vegetation at Point Pelee and keep it safe from over-browsing is between 24 and 32 deer, and that's at the most," she said.

Dobbie said with the elimination of 72 deer, the park is still home to well over 100. 

"We will need to reduce the herd further if we want to protect the park properly," she said.

The park has a three year plan to reduce the number of deer and plans on another cull next year.