Indiana Deer Reduction Hunts Successful
Volunteer hunters took 13 percent more deer this year than they did in 2007 during two two-day reduction hunts at 17 state parks.
A total of 1,468 deer were taken from the state parks during the special controlled hunts Nov. 17-18 and Dec. 1-2, according to Mike Mycroft, natural resource coordinator for the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs, who oversees the program.
The participating state parks, with number of deer harvested in parentheses, included Brown County (198), Chain O'Lakes (152), Charlestown (159), Harmonie (166), Indiana Dunes (42), Lincoln (70), McCormick's Creek (41), Ouabache (62), Pokagon (44), Shades (130), Spring Mill (32), Summit Lake (36), Tippecanoe River (107), Turkey Run (73), Whitewater Memorial (82), Fort Harrison (42) and Clifty Falls (32). Individual hunters could take up to three deer, which do not count against statewide bag limits.
DNR biologists evaluate which parks require a deer reduction each year, based on the recovery of vegetation that deer eat and previous hunter success at each park. The state parks are home to more than 32 state-endangered plants. The controlled hunts help reduce browsing by deer to a level that helps ecosystems and associated vegetation recover. The state parks selected are closed temporarily to the general public during the controlled hunts.
"If you subtract 2006, which was an unusual banner harvest year, we are average for the last five years when we've hunted a similar number of parks," Mycroft said. "We've leveled off from the heavy harvests of the early years of the program and are holding steady, but need to continue progress towards vegetation recovery. Though hunters aren't taking as many deer as they once were, that's a good sign for the vegetation. The deer that have been taken recently are healthier and generally larger bodied than the early days of the program."
To view more about the program and 2008 results see www.IN.gov/dnr/parklake.
Participants for the deer reductions were drawn from a pool of eligible applicants in September. The number of hunters who are drawn but do not participate, or leave early, remains a challenge to the program. Attendance improved this year but only slightly.
"Some parks that have never done so before are nearing a maintenance phase where they wouldn't require a reduction every year," Mycroft said. "However, the high no-show percentage and over selective hunting are keeping some parks from doing so. From a management perspective, we rely heavily on folks to show up and fill these coveted spots taking whatever they can."
Details regarding 2009 state park deer reductions will be available in the 2009-10 Indiana Hunting and Trapping Guide, which will be available throughout the state next summer.