Wounded veterans take part in Eagle Creek Park deer hunt

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indianapolis is now on its second day of a controversial deer hunt at Eagle Creek Park. The hunt was given the go-ahead after a lawsuit was thrown out by a judge on Wednesday.

The hunt is being conducted by the group Wounded Warriors Outdoors, a non-profit based out of Florida. The group says its mission is to provide therapeutic outdoor adventures to wounded veterans.

This is the first-ever hunt at Eagle Creek Park. The city says the deer population in the park is five to 10 times what it should be, however a study was never done to determine exactly how many deer are in the park.

“First and foremost it would be nice to know how many deer are actually in the park,” said Erin Huang of the Humane Society of the US.

The Humane Society of the United States has urged the city to use more humane ways to control the deer population, like contraception or sterilization. The city says those options are too expensive.

One of the dozen veterans participating is Jim Sursely.

“I stepped on a landmine in Vietnam in January 1969,” said Sursely, who lives in Florida.

He lost both legs and one of his arms that day, but that didn’t deter him.

“We’re actually the luckiest people in the world to be around, to be alive to experience this opportunity here at the park,” said Jim Sursely.

Sursely said he avoids the local controversy and says these hunts are their way of proving you can overcome tragedy

“Life is just open to whatever successes you want to avail yourself to,” said Sursely.

WWO is permitted to kill 350 deer over the three days, but the city says they’re expecting the actual harvest to be much less than that. As for the venison, it will be donated to local food pantries.

“Certainly, the participants here today and myself are living proof that there’s plenty of opportunity, you just have to be willing to step out in the public, give yourself an opportunity to get involved and you can be whatever you want to be,” said Sursely.

12 men and women from WWO are taking part in the hunt. The city also has personnel on hand.

City officials say an update on the number of deer killed won’t be available until the hunt is over. The park will not reopen until Monday.

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