(BLOOMINGTON) - The plan to use sharpshooters to kill deer at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve has cleared one of its last hurdles.
The Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners unanimously approved a $31,000 sharpshooting contract with White Buffalo Tuesday evening after hearing almost two hours of public input.
The contract will allow White Buffalo, a nonprofit wildlife management company, to schedule sharpshooting at the nature preserve from Nov. 15 to Feb. 28, 2015, and kill up to 100 deer during that time. It also specifies that all deer killed will be processed and the meat donated to Hoosier Hills Food Bank, and details how the effect of the cull will be measured. But before that can occur, the company is required to obtain special permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
In April, for the first time in at least 13 years, the Bloomington City Council voted 7-2 to override Mayor Mark Kruzan's veto on an ordinance that adds an exception to city code to allow for sharpshooting deer at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve.
The council initially passed the legislation April 9 with a 6-2-1 vote. Overturning the veto required a two-thirds majority -- or six votes -- from the council. It was Kruzan's first veto during his 10-year tenure.
The ordinance the council upheld adds an additional exception to a ban on discharging a firearm within city limits that applies to professional sharpshooters who have obtained the necessary permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and are hired by the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners. The exception does not allow the general public to shoot firearms at Griffy Lake.
Council member Dave Rollo authored the legislation to reduce the deer population surrounding the lake.
Indiana University biology professors Keith Clay and Angie Shelton told council members that research shows an overabundance of deer in the area that's causing ecosystem damage.
The recommendation to use sharpshooting came from the Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force report. The sharpshooting would likely occur between November and February.
Opponents questioned whether killing deer would be a long-term solution and whether the problem as Griffy Lake was that severe.
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