Thursday, October 12, 2006

INDIANA NEWS: Hunt Scheduled for Indiana Dunes State Park

Hunters will converge on the Indiana Dunes State Park four times before the year is out to thin the overpopulated deer herd there.

According to Russ Grunden, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the deer culls will be Nov. 13 and 14 and Dec. 4 and 5. The park will be closed to visitors during that time, Grunden said.

In general, hunting is forbidden in state parks. But in 1994, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing for controlled hunts at state parks to protect the ecosystems there.

Controlled hunts at the Indiana Dunes State Park began in 1998 when scientists determined certain species of plants there were being depleted or vanishing because of overgrazing by the growing deer herd.

With less food to go around, the deer were also becoming thin and malnourished, sometimes resorting to chewing on tree bark and damaging their teeth.

Since 1998, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has evaluated the need for hunts on an annual basis. Volunteer hunters, who apply to participate in the culls, helped thin the herd in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Last year, the state determined hunts would not be necessary because the park was not being overgrazed.

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