The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has announced that 18 Indiana state parks will close temporarily to allow for controlled deer reductions in the coming weeks.
The dates for the temporary closings are November 17th-18th, and December 1st-2nd.
The state parks affected are Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River and Whitewater Memorial.
These state parks will close to the general public the evening before each of the two efforts and reopen the morning after each two-day reduction.
Only individual hunters drawn last September and those hunters they listed on their applications may participate at Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Harmonie, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River and Whitewater Memorial. There will be no standby drawings at those parks.
For Fort Harrison (an archery hunt) and Indiana Dunes and Spring Mill (both are firearms hunts), a public standby drawing to fill spots left vacant will take place on property each morning of the reduction.
Spring Mill and Fort Harrison will conduct daily standby drawings at 8:30 a.m. Potential standby participants can apply onsite between 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. but cannot enter the park before 7:30 a.m.
Eligibility for daily onsite standby drawings is limited to Indiana residents who are 18 years of age by November 17th, and have any valid license to take deer in Indiana. Indiana residents who possess an Indiana lifetime license to take deer are also eligible.
Participants must wear a hunter orange hat or cap and vest, coat, jacket or coveralls at all times while on the property.
Applications can include up to three individuals. The number of participants drawn will be based on the number of unclaimed spots for each day; it is not a first-come, first-served process. The need for stand-in hunters tends to increase with each hunt day.
DNR biologists evaluate which parks require a reduction each year based on habitat recovery and previous harvest rates at each park. The state parks are home to more than 32 state-endangered plants and numerous significant natural communities. The reductions help control browsing by deer to a level that helps maintain habitat throughout the state parks for all plants and animals.