Community Hunting Access Program Deer Hunts Scheduled at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve

(BLOOMINGTON) – The City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department continues its efforts to protect plant diversity at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve with Community Hunting Access Program (CHAP) deer hunts to take place on the weekend of November 16 – 17, November 23 – 24, and November 30 – December 1.

The nature preserve will be closed to the public on these weekends, beginning at 11 p.m. on the Friday before the hunt through 5 a.m. the Monday after the hunt.

According to Natural Resources Manager Steve Cotter, the need to reduce the deer population was established by the Joint City of Bloomington-Monroe County 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 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.

White Buffalo, Inc. vetted, trained and will supervise the 27 hunters who successfully passed the proficiency screenings required to participate in the hunt. All hunters are assigned to specific hunting zones within the nature preserve and will hunt from tree stands. 

Each hunter is permitted to take up to one antlered and up to two antlerless deer. 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,” 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 Oct. 22, 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 or 812-349-3736.