Applications are available to participate in a controlled deer herd reduction in 13 Indiana state parks. The reduction will take place on November 19 & 20 and December 3 & 4.
Thirteen state parks and one nature preserve are included in the herd reduction this year. The state parks are Brown County, Chain O?Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, Pokagon, Shades, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles and Whitewater. Twin Swamps Nature Preserve will also conduct a herd reduction.
"Excellent progress has been made in the past several years to protect and restore state park ecosystems that have been damaged by an overpopulation of white-tailed deer," said Larry D. Macklin, director of the Department of Natural Resources.
"When the size of the deer herd is reduced to a level that the quantity and variety of park vegetation can adequately support, the park ecosystem begins to recover. More wildflowers bloom, more tree saplings grow and there is more vegetation for other wildlife," Macklin said.
"These are the types of improvements we have witnessed at the state parks during the past few years, and that means we don?t have to return to each park every year to manage the population of the deer herd. Of the 13 state parks to host a herd reduction this year, only two have been on the list in each of the past four years," Macklin said.
To determine if there are too many deer at a state park resulting in ecological damage, a scientific survey of vegetation is conducted at the state parks. DNR biologists use a scientific model developed by Purdue biologist Dr. George Parker to determine if park ecosystems were being damaged and to make recommendations to reduce the size of the deer herds at specific state parks.
DNR biologists concluded: "Significant progress has been made over the years, and the condition of the vegetation is improving in many parks. In fact, a number of parks have moved into a ?maintenance phase,? which means the deer herd has been brought down to a more natural level and that the vegetation continues to recover. Hence, reductions are not needed as frequently as they were earlier in the program." A copy of the report is available on the DNR Web site at: www.IN.gov/dnr .
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 October 12, and hold a valid resident hunting license. The number of participants will be strictly limited and will be chosen by random draw from the pool of applicants.
Hunters who have completed the Indiana Hunter Education Course will be given preference to participate in the firearms hunts. Firearm hunts are limited to shotguns, muzzleloaders and pistols.
The herd reduction at Clifty Falls State Park will be limited to archers. Only applicants who have completed the International Bowhunter Education Program will be considered.
Applications for the herd reduction are available on the DNR Web site at www.IN.gov/dnr . They must be received in the DNR Indianapolis office of the Division of State Parks and Reservoirs by close of business Wednesday, October 17. Hunters with questions about the application for the herd reduction should call the division at (317) 232-4124.
According to state law, the DNR director shall establish by emergency rule a controlled hunt if he determines, based on the opinion of a professional biologist, that a species of wild animal is doing obvious and measurable damage to the ecological balance within a state park, and the ecological balance will not be maintained unless action is taken to control the population of the species within the park.