BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Bloomington parks board has approved a $31,000 contract for sharpshooters to kill up to 100 deer in a city nature preserve.
The Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the contract Tuesday after hearing almost two hours of public comments, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1jt9b2l ).
The deal allows the company to schedule deer hunts from Nov. 15 to Feb. 28 in the 1,200-acre Griffy Lake preserve on the city’s north side, with all the deer meat being donated to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. The company must also obtain special permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for its hunts, during which the preserve will be closed to the public.
The City Council voted to April to allow the sharpshooters, overriding a veto from Mayor Mark Kruzan.
Opponents told the parks board they disagreed with the use of sharpshooters, and disputed whether thinning the deer herd is necessary.
“No one really knows if deer are overabundant at Griffy right now,” said Sandra Shapshay, executive committee member of Bloomington Advocates for Non-violent and Innovative Deer Stewardship.
A city task force has been looking at ways to reduce the number of deer around Bloomington, and a task force report said plant life and animals dependent on plants are believed to be suffering because of the high number of deer around the preserve.
“It’s not something any of us want to do, but we think it’s necessary to protect the biodiversity at Griffy Lake,” Bloomington natural resource manager Steve Cotter said.
Similar concerns about large deer populations led to hunters being allowed in state parks over the past 20 years. Parks board president Les Coyne said the board was simply using the tool provided by the City Council.
“I see no other option at this point,” Coyne said. “I would hope that there are other options that become available.”