By Jackson Hughes
INDIANAPOLIS— As hunting season approaches, Eagle Creek Park officials in Indianapolis are considering a second controlled hunt to regulate the rising deer population.
Indy Parks implemented a long-term plan known as the White-tailed Deer Management Plan for Eagle Creek Park, provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal there is to reduce the negative impact of the deer on the park and restore the balance of the ecosystem.
The plan is being implemented over several years and has featured controlled hunts from Wounded Warriors and the Untied States Department of Agriculture.
According to the White-tailed Deer Management Plan for Eagle Creek Park, the average deer density for the park is 90.7 deer per square mile. Dr. Joe Caudell, Department of Natural Resources State Deer Biologist, said this number is quite high. A healthy deer population for a park the size of Eagle Creek is around 15 to 20 deer per square mile, according to the Deer Management Plan website.
“It’s really not the number that is an issue, but more about the density of deer in the area,” he said. “And that’s a lot of deer.”
Caudell said a high-density population is a problem for not only parks, but for residents living around park areas.
“When you have really high densities of deer, they create a browse line, and eat up as high as they can reach, and all the way down to the ground,” he said. “Also, you have an increase in the number of vehicle collisions because the deer move around more than usual to find food.”
In 2014 and early 2015, phase one of the city’s long term plan featured a controlled hunt by the Wounded Warriors and USDA sharpshooters, who collected 249 deer. But a count last spring estimated about 533 deer living in the park.
“There are hardly any native predators left in our urban areas to make an impact, and so, in most urban areas, you get left with managed hunts,” Caudell said.
During a managed hunt all standard DNR rules are in place.
Jackson Hughes is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.