Controlled Deer Herd Apps

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Applications are now available to participate in a controlled deer herd reduction in 14 Indiana state parks and one nature preserve. The reduction will take place on Monday, Nov. 18; Tuesday, Nov. 19; Monday, Dec. 2; and Tuesday, Dec. 3.

The 14 state parks are Chain O'Lakes, Clifty Falls, Harmonie, Lincoln, McCormick's Creek, Ouabache, Potato Creek, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles and Whitewater Memorial. Twin Swamps Nature Preserve also is included in the herd reduction program this year.

"This program is successfully restoring ecosystems in state parks that were damaged for many years by an overpopulation of white-tailed deer," said John Goss, DNR director.

"Longtime visitors are witnessing a rebirth of the forest understory of shrubs, tree saplings and wildflowers. These plants were virtually missing in many state parks for more than a decade and they are needed to provide essential habitat and food sources for a variety of animals in the park, including deer.

"Even though we have made progress, we must recognize that deer reproduce rapidly and a herd can double in size in two to three years. In most state parks, a reduction in the size of the herd every other year will maintain a proper balance between deer and their habitat," Goss said.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources first began to reduce the size of the deer herds occupying Indiana?s state parks in 1993 with a one-day reduction effort at Brown County State Park. An obvious browse line had developed with deer feeding on vegetation from the ground to as high as they could reach.

In 1994, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that required the director of the DNR to order a hunt in a state park when, in the opinion of a biologist, a species of a wild animal would damage the ecosystem of that park. Deer herd reductions have been conducted as needed at 18 of 22 state parks since 1995.

The DNR recruited Dr. George Parker, a Purdue University biologist, to develop a program that would scientifically measure the damage to the parks and a formula to determine a schedule for the deer herd reductions. With data collected by DNR biologists and naturalists in the state parks, Dr. Parker's program has been used each year to determine the need for a hunt in each park.

"Dr Parker's approach is solidly rooted in science and allowed us to target specific properties each year based solely on need," Goss said. "With the ecosystem greatly improved, he has again recommended a logical, scientific and verifiable approach, anticipating that once a particular state park reduces its deer population to an acceptable level, future hunts usually will be needed every other year."

Dr. Parker's recommendations and other information about the state park deer herd reductions are available on the DNR Web site.

The DNR asks for qualified volunteer hunters in Indiana to participate in the herd reduction. To be eligible, applicants must be Indiana residents, at least 18 years old on Sept. 27, and hold a valid resident hunting license. DNR staff will choose the participants by a random drawing from the pool of applicants.

Hunters who have completed the Indiana Hunter Education Course will be given preference to participate in the firearm hunts. Firearm hunts are limited to shotguns, muzzleloaders and pistols.

Archers who have completed the International Bowhunter Education Program will be given preference at the Clifty Falls deer herd reduction.

All facilities with a hunt will be closed to the public on the days of the reduction. Hunters will be allowed in the park between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., local time.

Applications for the herd reduction are available at all state parks, state reservoirs and on the DNR Web site They must be received in the DNR Indianapolis office of the Division of State Parks and Reservoirs by 4 p.m. (EST), Sept. 27, 2002. Hunters with questions about the application for the herd reduction should call the division at (317) 232-4124.

The locations and number of hunters for each two-day session are:

Chain O'Lakes State Park 110

Clifty Falls State Park 130 (limited to archers)

Harmonie State Park 170

Lincoln State Park 80

McCormick's Creek State Park 80

Ouabache State Park 50

Potato Creek State Park 160

Shades State Park 155

Shakamak State Park 60

Spring Mill State Park 60

Tippecanoe River State Park 130

Turkey Run State Park 100

Versailles State Park 295

Whitewater Memorial State Park 85

Twin Swamps Nature Preserve 30