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Indianapolis officials back allowing deer hunts for 1st time in city-owned Eagle Creek Park

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INDIANAPOLIS — City officials are recommending that deer hunting be allowed for the first time in the park along Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis.

The recommendation to the city parks board comes after a Purdue University ecologist found that plants in the city-owned Eagle Creek Park showed severe damage caused by deer.

The proposal calls for allowing a deer hunt by disabled military veterans, followed by a team of city-hired professional sharpshooters to reduce the population of the animals, city Office of Sustainability spokesman Scott Manning told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1srY7Ls ).

Both hunts in the 3,900-acre park could happen between November and January if the plan is approved, Manning said.

Deer hunts have been conducted in state parks over the past 20 years to control, including Fort Harrison State Park in northeastern Indianapolis. Hunting, however, is currently prohibited in all city parks in Indianapolis.

Opponents of allowing park deer hunts have said they are skeptical about the study's findings of deer overpopulation at Eagle Creek since it didn't actually count the number of deer.

Manning said city officials considered non-lethal methods, such as contraception, to reduce the deer population, but concluded that wouldn't be effective in an unfenced area the size of Eagle Creek.

The Indianapolis parks board could discuss the proposal during its Sept. 24 meeting.

City-County Council member Janice McHenry, whose district covers some neighborhoods near the park, said she had doubts about the plan.

"Is there an overpopulation?" she asked. "There's a lot of deer. It's not just the park. There's a lot of deer everywhere."

The Indianapolis hunting plan follows a decision by Bloomington officials this spring to allow sharpshooters to kill deer in a city-owned nature preserve. The Bloomington parks board has approved a $31,000 contract for sharpshooters to kill up to 100 deer in the 1,200-acre Griffy Lake nature preserve during scheduled hunts starting in November.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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