BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The Bloomington City Council has decided to allow sharpshooters to thin the deer herd at a city nature preserve.
The council voted 6-2 to approve the hunting proposal for the Griffy Lake preserve, with another member abstaining.
More than 20 members of the public spoke about the plan during a lengthy council meeting that lasted into early Thursday, The Herald-Times reported.
Several opponents called the plan a “massacre,” while supporters pointed to research showing an overabundance of deer in the area is causing ecosystem damage.
City parks director Mick Renneisen said a contractor would assess the 1,200-acre preserve on the city’s north side and provide an estimate for the number of deer that sharpshooters could kill.
Chad Stewart, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources deer biologist, told council members the agency focuses on plant regeneration to determine whether enough deer have been culled from an area.
“The state does not put much emphasis on total deer numbers,” Stewart said. “As soon as you put a number on deer, it’s usually debated.”
The city ordinance will allow professional sharpshooters who have been approved for the necessary permits from the DNR and hired by the city parks board. It doesn’t allow the general public to fire guns around Griffy Lake.
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.