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Bloomington deer plan gathering dust

– Efforts to reduce Bloomington’s urban deer population appear to have stalled a year after city leaders adopted recommendations from a task force that suggested ways to cull the herd.

The Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force spent two years researching and compiling a 200-page report that included both lethal and non-lethal methods of reducing the population. The city council adopted the report Dec. 5, 2012, but no action has been taken.

“It has been frustrating that it seems to have just disappeared,” Indiana University biology professor Keith Clay, one of 11 members on the task force, told The Herald-Times. “I think there has been a feeling among members of the task force like: What is going on?”

The council wasn’t required to enforce the recommendations, but many in Bloomington expected to see some action by now.

Councilman Dave Rollo, chairman of the task force, said he’s confident there will be movement next year.

“Something will be done. We’re going to be living with deer, so therefore, we’re going to need some kind of management strategies to cope with them,” Rollo said. “If we don’t do anything about it, the train doesn’t stay still. ... Deer are going to continue reproducing.”

Rollo said the issue is complex, which makes crafting and passing legislation run a slow process.

The task force was created in 2010 to study the effects of the increasing presence of urban deer and address concerns from residents who felt the deer put children in danger and jeopardized plants.

The debate over how to control the population drew intense reactions from the community. Some residents said the lethal reduction methods could be inhumane, while others argued that nonlethal strategies wouldn’t have an effect on the population.

Birth control options were ruled out because they are prohibited by the Department of Natural Resources.

The report ultimately included recommendations to allow sharpshooting in Griffy Woods, bow hunting on properties of more than five acres and “trap and kill” strategies on large plots of land. It also recommended installing high fences and introducing plants deer don’t eat.

Discussions are underway to get a strategy in place for Griffy Lake, which Rollo said is a concern because of the effects the deer have on plant species.