Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Deer hunting programs favored by County Park Board

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Park Board gave its preliminary approval Thursday to implementing deer hunting at three of its properties.

The board voted unanimously 6-0 to “move forward” on a request by Valparaiso resident and hunting enthusiast Bryan McFadden to allow bow-and-arrow hunting for deer in isolated sections of Brincka-Cross Gardens, Brookdale Park and the former Department of Corrections farm in Pine Twp., with a caveat that McFadden provide a more specific report on how safety will be handled and when and where the hunts will be.

McFadden, who is the president of the an organization titled Quality Deer Management Association, first approached the board in October advocating the opportunities to educate younger hunters and to manage the burgeoning population of deer in the parks. He also said that the meat harvested from the slaughtered deer would go to food pantries around the state to feed the hungry.

“It’s something I want to get started in our community,” he said.

The board then gave McFadden the chance to work with Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos to gain a sense of how many deer are in the parks by setting up cameras at different locations. The Department of Natural Resources, on its website, has named Porter County as an urban deer zone.

McFadden reported his cameras over periods of two to three weeks spotted 67 does/16 bucks at the DOC property, 87 does/17 bucks at Brincka-Cross Gardens, 36 does/29 bucks at Brookdale and 13 does/6 bucks near the campground area at Sunset Hill Farm.

The photos all showed deer that McFadden said appeared healthy and well-fed, indicating the parks are an ideal place for deer to thrive.

“All these areas provide a great location of cover, sources of water, and there’s always plenty of food,” he said.

Represented at the meeting were several groups wanting to be involved in the initiative that McFadden said “can provide a lot of opportunity to the people of Porter County.”

Ian Munnoch, a coordinator with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, said over 100,000 meals were provided from harvested deer that were donated last year in Indiana through FHFH.

Meanwhile, Jim Sweeney, president of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, said that his organization was “impressed” with McFadden’s presentation and support his plan to manage the deer population.

Stephen Spencer, a regional leader of the National Bowhunters Education Foundation said the organization would participate in holding classes on how to properly perform hunting with bows. Persons who complete the courses are eligible to receive a certification from the NBEF.

“It will instill a sense of responsibility for the environment and carrying on the responsibility into the field,” Spencer said.

Emphasizing the educational components, McFadden said the program will teach fledgling hunters about field dressing/butchering, hide tanning, taxidermy, trapping, habitat and natural plant education.

To implement the deer hunting program at the parks, McFadden recommended taking the next steps of posting signs for an agritourism clause which lowers the liability for landowners, setting up deer stands in the desired locations, and preparing maps.

Park Board member Craig Kenworthy asked what the parks department can do to reduce its liability if someone injured themselves on equipment or if someone was struck by an arrow. “How do we mitigate that exposure?” he asked.

Kenworthy also suggested background checks on hunters, saying he’s “not comfortable” with having someone with a criminal history having weapons on park property.

Spencer said that if a person has been convicted of a violent crime, they are “not supposed to have weapons.”

McFadden said hunters will be required to have their bowhunting certificate from the NBEF and anyone who sits through a nine-hour class is evidently taking hunting seriously.

One audience member said the parks could set days where the parks would be open only to hunters.

Rico Semento, a member of the Quality Deer Management Association, said Indiana Dunes State Park closes for a few days in the fall to allow for deer reduction hunts. It is likely that “poachers” are already hunting on county park property, he added.

Board member David Canright said “No Trespassing” or “No Access” signs could be posted in the areas where hunters would be, closing them off from public visitors. It would not be too much of a hindrance, he said, because Brookdale and the DOC property are not open to the public, and the hunting area at Brincka-Cross would be situated in the additional acreage that is not yet open to visitors.

Board member Tom Schnabel told McFadden he “loves the outline” of the proposal but feels there are “still a lot of steps before moving forward.”

The board asked that McFadden bring them a formal report on what the rules, dates and plans for signs will be before giving their full support. Kenworthy made the motion to accept the concept of the plan.

 

Posted 3/6/2015

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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