THURMONT, Md. (AP) — The National Park Service says government sharpshooters killed 156 white-tailed deer in the fifth year of a herd-reduction program at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont.

Park Superintendent Mel Poole said in an email Thursday that the tally is close to the agency's goal of culling 160 deer from the herd. Sharpshooters from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services division began their work in November.

The program has eliminated 968 deer from the park since 2010. It's intended to reduce tree damage from a deer herd that the park service says is too big.

Conventional hunting is prohibited in the park, so federal sharpshooters do the work and donate the meat to food banks.

The program aims to kill more than 2,000 deer over 15 years.