Chesterton Tribune


Deer kill begins at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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A deer cull commenced on Monday night at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, in accordance with a deer management plan approved in July 2012 by the National Park Service (NPS).

That plan provides, among other things, for the use of sharpshooters.

NPS spokesman Bruce Rowe told the Chesterton Tribune after deadline on Tuesday that the cull is expected to last around three weeks and is being conducted by National Park Service rangers and specialists with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Although the approved plan authorizes the taking of up to 345 deer in the first year of implementation, Rowe said that probably no more than 150 will be taken over the next three weeks.

“For reasons of public safety” Rowe would not say where in the National Lakeshore the cull is being conducted, except that sites are “away from public areas.”

“Multiple locations which show evidence of deer activity have been selected,” he said. “Timing and precautions are being taken to ensure public safety.”

Total personnel involved in the cull: between four and seven. That number includes persons who are processing the culled deer, taking samples to test for chronic wasting disease, and conducting general deer population research, Rowe said.

The APHIS specialists, Rowe noted, “are highly trained experts in wildlife control” and are working to train NPS rangers in processing.

There is no particular ratio of deer to be taken, Rowe said. “There is a preference for females, because that lowers the population more quickly,” but the sharpshooters “will take any deer in the cull areas.”

After seven days—during which culled deer will be checked for chronic wasting disease—the meat will be processed and then “donated to a local food bank for distribution to food pantries,” Rowe added.

“Damage to rare and endangered species and other negative impacts caused by excessive deer population compromise the purpose of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to preserve the exceptional biodiversity within the park” NPS said last summer, in announcing the approval of the deer management plan.



Posted 3/6/2013