Another Successful Season for Indiana State Park Deer Hunts

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Volunteer hunters helped the effort to restore habitat during the recent controlled hunts at 17 Indiana state parks, taking a total of 1,334 deer.

The controlled hunts took place Nov. 16-17 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Harmonie, Lincoln, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles, Whitewater Memorial, Fort Harrison, and Clifty Falls.

Versailles had the highest number of deer taken in the special hunts with 202, followed by Potato Creek (186), Charlestown (133), Tippecanoe River (119), and Harmonie (111).

DNR biologists evaluate which parks require a deer reduction each year, based on the recovery of vegetation that deer eat and previous harvest information at each park. The state parks are home to many unique natural communities and rare plants. The controlled hunts help reduce browsing by deer to a level that helps ecosystems and associated vegetation recover.

"In spite of poor weather during the first reduction and expanses of standing corn adjacent to many parks, our effort in 2009 was successful in maintaining the comfortable trend we've seen in recent years," said Mike Mycroft, chief of natural resources for the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. "Though hunters aren't taking as many deer as they once were, that's a good sign for the vegetation. These reductions are about managing habitat."

Not all parks require reduction every year. Approximately one-third of the parks have achieved maintenance status since the program began and regularly take a year off from reductions.