reduction to take place
at Clifty Falls Park
(November 2005) Clifty Falls State Park and
Inn will close to the public Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 28-29 so the Indiana
Department of Natural Resources officials and hunters can conduct a
Hunters were selected by lottery from an applicant pool last month,
and no additional hunters will be admitted to this years reduction.
Participants must be Indiana residents age 18 or older and have a valid
state hunting license. Since hunters are considered volunteers, there
are no fees.
Dick Davis, the parks naturalist, said 130 hunters were selected
for each of the two-day hunts.
The same number was chosen last year, but only about 90 showed up each
morning, which, according to Davis, is ideal.
Were putting hunters in the field in numbers that keep it
safe for them and for park personnel, Davis said.
While criticized by some, the hunts are conducted to maintain the parks
Without natural predators, the deer herd increases until the environment
cannot sustain it. Seventeen state parks now hold annual deer reductions,
since the Indiana General Assembly passed a law in 1994 requiring a
hunt when the population reaches levels that can damage the ecosystem.
The number killed during each hunt allows DNR biologists to estimate
the deer population in the park, Davis said.
Previously, Davis and others collected data about the prevalence of
certain plants and used this data to gauge the population. Plant
surveys require a lot of man hours, but the hunter success rate is just
as accurate an index, he said.
Each hunter is allowed to kill one antlered deer and up to two others.
A deer is considered antlered if it has at least one antler of three
inches or longer. Hunters must take their game to a check station so
DNR officials can log the age, weight and sex. During Cliftys
first reduction, in 1998, 110 deer were taken. The number has steadily
decreased, and last year hunters killed 37 animals in the hunt. We
will hunt until the deer biologists decide that we have the herd at
the appropriate level, Davis said.
According to Davis, There are very few areas east of the Mississippi
River that dont have or dont need a deer reduction program.
When the deer population is not controlled, what you have are
automobiles taking the place of hunters, he added.
Since the hunts began seven years ago, studies have shown favorable
regrowth among plants that were reduced by deer. Jewel weed, or touch-me-not,
which commonly grows along ditch lines, shallow ponds or other moist
areas, almost vanished from the park, Davis said. Now the plant is making
For more information on the deer reductions,
Back to November 2005