(GRIFFY LAKE) – The Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department continues its efforts to protect biodiversity at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve with Community Hunting Access Program (CHAP) deer hunts.
The hunts will take place the following weekends: Nov. 14-15, Nov. 21-22 and Nov. 28-29.
The nature preserve will be closed to the public on those weekends from 11 p.m. on the Friday before the hunts through 5 a.m. the Monday after the hunt.
The need to reduce the deer population was established by the Joint City of Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force in their 2012 report “Common Ground: Toward Balance and Stewardship.” In addition, vegetation studies conducted at the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve over the past five years by the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department’s natural resources management staff indicate a high level of deer browse pressure on native plant species. Vegetation monitoring results over the next several years will guide future deer management efforts.
The Parks and Recreation Department received a CHAP grant from the Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife for $25,000 to contract with White Buffalo, Inc. to administer this year’s hunt. White Buffalo, Inc. is a leading expert in population control of white-tailed deer in urban areas, and was selected to run the CHAP hunts at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve based on their familiarity with Midwestern forest ecosystems, their comprehensive understanding of the ecology of white-tailed deer, and their excellent safety record.
2020 marks the first year the Parks and Recreation Department will conduct a CHAP hunt at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve to reduce the deer population. The Department contracted with White Buffalo for the first time in 2014 to conduct a sharpshoot to remove deer from the nature preserve, but the sharpshoot did not take place.
A sharpshoot conducted by White Buffalo, Inc. in late 2017 removed 62 deer from the property. A CHAP hunt scheduled for November 2019, also administered by White Buffalo, Inc., did not take place, after the hunt failed to draw the minimum number of hunters to apply to participate.
White Buffalo, Inc. vetted, trained and will supervise the 55 hunters who successfully passed the proficiency screenings required to participate in this year’s CHAP hunt. All hunters are assigned to specific hunting zones within the nature preserve, and must hunt from tree stands that are at least 12′ high.
Griffy Lake Nature Preserve in 2020 was designated as a deer reduction zone (DRZ) by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Under DRZ regulations, each hunter is permitted to take up to one antlered and up to nine antlerless deer within the DRZ. Additional information about DMZs can be found online.
Successful hunters may keep the deer, or donate them to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. The nonprofit organization Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry is providing funding to a local firm to process any deer that are donated.
“The goal of these hunts is to remove enough deer from the nature preserve to reduce deer browse pressure on understory plants and seedling trees to the point that these species are able to recover, and to continue reproducing within the preserve,” Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department’s Natural Resources Manager Steve Cotter said.
A vegetation study conducted by Eco Logic, LLC in Griffy Lake Nature Preserve in 2019 reported the presence of about 570 species of vascular plants. According to the report presented to the Board of Park Commissioners on October 22, 2019, deer selectively browse certain favored plants, including oak seedlings, keeping them from growing, or growing large enough to reproduce. Oak trees are an important native species in the area, whose maintenance is essential to a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
For more information about Griffy Lake Nature Preserve or the CHAP program, contact Steve Cotter, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-349-3736.