The days of some local deer may be numbered ……

September 24, 2012


By Kasey Husk 331-4243 | khusk@heraldt.com
September 20, 2012, last update: 9/20 @ 12:06 am

The days of some local deer may be numbered if recommendations so far favored by the Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force come to pass.

The 11-member group dedicated to finding solutions for problems caused by deer overpopulation reviewed parts of a draft of its final report Wednesday as it prepared to present the document to city and county officials late next month.

The draft report, which has been more than two years in the making, includes recommendations for nonlethal methods of deer control such as feeding bans and increased fence heights, as well as provisions for sharpshooting, hunting and trap-and-kill methods of reducing the deer population.

The deer task force’s report is strictly advisory, however. It will be up to the Bloomington City Council to ultimately implement any recommendations — lethal or otherwise.

Task force members moved rapidly through various aspects of the report, generally reading only the heading of a chapter and often approving that section with little or no discussion. Task force chairman Dave Rollo noted, however, that issues have been discussed at length in previous meetings.

The draft report — which was requested but not yet made available to The Herald-Times — suggests designating “greenspace hunting districts” in appropriate areas of the city where there is at least 5 contiguous acres of land. After Wednesday’s meeting, task force member Bob Foyut said that, if approved, hunters would be able to obtain a permit and hunt on those approved areas during hunting season, though hunting is usually not permitted within city limits.

The task force also recommends culling the local urban deer population through “sharpshooting” and “trap-and-kill” methods, neither of which are considered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to be forms of hunting.

With sharpshooting, deer would be lured to a specific area with bait over the course of a few weeks and then a professional sharpshooter using a silencer would kill them as they come to eat, Foyut said. That method could potentially be used at Griffy Lake on the land that falls under the city’s jurisdiction.

In more urban areas of the city, where homes are too close to make sharpshooting a safe option, deer could be lured into a trap where they would be quickly dispatched with a gunshot to the head. Task force members asked to include in the recommendations a suggestion that a biologist measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the deer to determine whether or not the deer were inhumanly stressed. If that were the case, the city would have to rethink its trap-and-kill plans.

Task force members had a very brief debate Wednesday on whether to use the words “kill” or “euthanize” to describe the demise of the deer. Task force member Josh Griffin, a wildlife biologist, noted that the term kill “sounds more barbaric,” but also noted that “euthanasia” is a more clinical term. Rollo, meanwhile, said the group settled on the word “kill” because it did not want to use “euphemisms to convey meaning.”

The task force also intends to recommend that the city implement a feeding ban to help discourage the deer, as well as recommending the city allow residents to have higher fences to keep deer out. Right now, residents can have fences up to 4 feet tall in their front yards and 8 feet tall in the back, Foyut said. The report doesn’t specify a specific height the city should allow, but Foyut said an 8-foot fence will keep most deer out of an area, and a 10-foot fence will keep them all out.

Task force members voted, often unanimously, to approve each section of the report discussed during Wednesday’s two-hour meeting.

What’s next

Discussion of the rest of the report is expected at the next meeting of the Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force, set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.


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