BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Sharpshooters could be allowed to hunt deer in a Bloomington nature preserve under a proposal being considered by city officials.
The plan's supporters say the deer herd needs to be thinned out at the 1,200-acre Griffy Lake preserve on the city's north side.
Five of the nine City Council members indicated support for the plan during a straw poll taken during a meeting Wednesday night, although a vote on approving the plan will be taken at a later meeting, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/QHTM7Y ).
Councilman Dave Rollo said many birds, plants and mammals could be forced out of the area if the deer population remains steady or continues to grow.
"This imbalance is a threat to many of the organisms that live there," he said. "We must manage deer to balance the ecosystem."
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.
"There are really dramatic effects from the deer at Griffy Woods," Shelton said.
Opponents of the proposal questioned whether the deer problem at Griffy Lake was that severe.
Erin Huang, Indiana director for the Humane Society, said killing deer wouldn't solve the problem for the long term as the remaining deer will continue to reproduce. She urged the council to conduct more research on nonlethal options.
Similar concerns about large deer populations led to hunters being allowed in state parks over the past 20 years.
A city task force has been looking at ways to reduce the number of deer around Bloomington, which is in the midst of a heavily wooded area. Opponents have fought its proposal to allow hunting of the animals around the city, calling it inhumane and possibly dangerous to people and pets.
City Parks and Recreation Director Mick Renneisen said the cost of hiring sharpshooters has been estimated at $30,000. He said the sharpshooting would likely occur between November and February, but the park wouldn't be closed that entire time.
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com