Alabama Deer Control Hunts Announced
For the fourth consecutive year, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will conduct regulated archery hunts to continue reducing the deer overpopulation at Oak Mountain State Park. An online registration process will randomly select 80 hunters for the two hunts taking place December 18-19, 2007 and January 8-9, 2008. Registration opens October 1 and closes November 9 at www.outdooralabama.com.
Conservation officials have made several changes to streamline the hunt registration process and increase overall deer harvest. Changes include:
- · One drawing will be held. A total of 80 hunters and 80 alternates will be selected. Hunters may register multiple times.
- · Each of the 80 hunters is eligible to participate in both hunts. This year's drawing will select one group of 80 hunters for both hunts. If a hunter cannot participate in one or more of the hunts, an alternate will be activated to fill the vacancy for that hunt only.
- · A doe must be harvested and checked in prior to harvesting a buck. The new Antlered Buck and Turkey Harveststate regulation on the three antlered bucks rule will apply.
- · Selected hunters must hold a valid Alabama hunting license and complete the state hunting proficiency test prior to the hunts. Hunters will be notified of proficiency test dates.
Registration will be offered online at www.outdooralabama.com. from October 1 to November 9. A $6 fee payable by debit/credit card is required at the time of registration. Applicants may register more than once. The 80 chosen hunters pay $50 per hunt to help offset costs associated with closing the park and conducting the wildlife management practices.
Hunters have harvested a total of 167 deer since the hunts began in 2004. Commissioner M. Barnett Lawley recognizes the important role hunters play in helping control deer populations. "Bowhunters who participate in these hunts realize that helping reduce deer numbers within Oak Mountain State Park today will help over time to improve herd health and vegetative habitat not only for deer but for other wildlife in the park," said Lawley.
As Alabama's largest park, Oak Mountain State Park provides 9,940 acres of pine-studded ridges and green hardwood bottoms. Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting. Oak Mountain State Park suffered damaging effects of a deer herd that went unregulated for decades. Scientific data confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation. After consulting with state wildlife biologists and in consideration of research data, Commissioner Lawley determined that a regulated archery hunt was the most appropriate control measure for the Oak Mountain State Park herd.
Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer grazing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds are negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land.
Hunters may donate harvested deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, which distributes processed venison to local food banks. In the 2006 hunting season, 60,397 pounds of venison was donated by Alabama hunters to the HHH program.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama's natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.