Indiana 2010 State Park Deer Hunt Report

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Volunteer hunters took 1,689 deer during special controlled hunts at 16 state parks in November, according to Mike Mycroft, chief of natural resources for the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. A full report is available at http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/sp-DeerRMRR.pdf.

The controlled hunts were Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 29-30, at Brown County, Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick's Creek, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River, Versailles, and Whitewater Memorial state parks.

Indiana state parks were among the first in the eastern United States to use hunting to manage the impacts of deer in protected natural areas that traditionally prohibited hunting. Many additional agencies, such as Georgia state parks and other groups, have since adopted similar programs based on Indiana's model.

"We began our reduction program 18 years ago, and all those years provide a powerful data set that illustrates habitat recovery as well as healthier, sustained deer populations throughout the parks," Mycroft said.

The state parks are home to many unique natural communities and rare plants no longer represented throughout Indiana. The controlled hunts help reduce browsing by deer to a level that helps ecosystems and associated vegetation recover.

Individual parks are evaluated annually to determine which require a reduction. Decisions are based on the recovery of vegetation that deer eat and previous harvest information at each park. Approximately one-third of the parks have achieved maintenance status since the program began and regularly take a year off from reductions.

Individual hunters could take up to three deer, which do not count against statewide bag limits and have no tag fees. Participants were drawn from a pool of eligible applicants in September. Look for details regarding 2011 state park deer reductions and applications starting in July at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5834.htm.