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Applications are now available to participate in a controlled deer herd reduction in 15 Indiana state parks and one nature preserve. The reduction will take place on Monday, November 15; Tuesday, November 16; Monday, November 29; and Tuesday, November 30.

The 15 state parks are: Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Fall, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Shades, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, and Whitewater Memorial. Twin Swamps Nature Preserve also is included in the herd reduction.

"Without population controls, the size of a deer herd in a state park can double in only two years," said DNR Director John Goss. "Too many deer can strip the park of important vegetation, leaving deer and other animals with poor habitat and not enough food."

The Indiana DNR first began to reduce the size of the deer herds occupying Indiana's state parks in 1993 with a one-day reduction 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 mandating the director of the DNR to order a hunt in a state park when a species of a wild animal would damage the ecosystem of that park.

Deer herd reductions have been conducted as needed at 20 of Indiana's 22 state parks since 1995.

Working with Dr. George Parker, a Purdue University forest ecologist, the DNR developed a scientific measure of the damage to the parks and a formula to determine a schedule for the deer herd reductions. Data collected by DNR biologists and naturalists in the state parks, is now used each year to determine the need for a reduction in each park. As a result, five parks that had reductions last year will not be included this year.

"Our scientific approach to the damage in the parks provides us with a successful method to target specific properties each year based solely on need," Goss said. "The rebirth in the state park forests has been remarkable. Shrubs, tree saplings and wildflowers that were missing in many for more than a decade are back. This is the proof of our success."
Additional information about the state park deer herd reductions is available on the DNR Web site at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/public/evaluation/index.html

Each year the DNR asks for qualified volunteer hunters in Indiana to participate in the herd reduction. To be eligible, applicants must be an Indiana resident, at least 18 years old on October 1, and hold a valid resident hunting license to take deer. 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 and Fort Harrison deer herd reduction sites.
All facilities with a hunt will be closed to the public on the days of the reduction.

Applications for the herd reduction are currently available at all state parks, state reservoirs and on the DNR Web site. A mail-in request for an application is available in the hunting and trapping guide currently available in stores and at DNR properties.

Completed applications must be received in the Indianapolis office of the DNR's Division of State Parks and Reservoirs by 4 p.m. (EST), October 1, 2004. 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, Charlestown State Park 80, Clifty Falls State Park 130 (limited to archers), Ft. Harrison State Park 200 (limited to archers), Harmonie State Park 170, Indiana Dunes State Park 95, Lincoln State Park 80, Ouabache State Park 50, Pokagon State Park 60' Potato Creek State Park 60, Shades State Park 155, Summit Lake State Park 80, Tippecanoe River State Park 130, Turkey Run State Park 100 Whitewater Memorial State Park 85, and Twin Swamps Nature Preserve 30.

The Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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