Demonstrating that regulated deer hunting can have a long-term impact on a particular area’s herd, the Geauga Park District has assembled its statistics for its 2011-2012 controlled hunts.
This most recent series of controlled hunts - open to Geauga County residents only with a couple of notable exceptions - saw a total deer kill of 63 animals on 16 units open to archery, firearms, or both, hunting.
That number is a significant drop from the 150 animals reported shot during the high-water 2008-2009 deer-hunting season. And the 2011-2012 total figure also is just a few animals more than what were taken during the agency’s first series of hunts in 2007-2008. In that year 57 animals were killed but only on seven sites.
The greatest number of deer killed last year was at the Rookery, located in Munson Township. Here, 14 deer were shot last season, a drop from the 27 animals taken there during the prior season of 2010-2011.
Likewise, the number of deer killed at the agency’s Observatory Park in Montville Township has continued to decline since the program first began.
Last year, hunters shot 12 animals at Observatory Park. The season before that figure was 16 deer and for the 2009-2010 deer-hunting season, the total number of deer killed at Observatory park was 39 animals.
Intensive studies done by Geauga Park District’s operations manager John Oros indicates the level of available animals both prior to and after the hunts at various parks.
For example, at the Rookery the pre-harvest 2011-2012 deer population was an estimated 31 animals. Contrast that to the park’s 2008-2009 pre-harvest figure of 100 animals.
A significant decline in the pre-harvest deer population was noted as well for Observatory Park between the 2010-2011 deer-hunting season and the 2011-2012 deer-hunting season: Down from 36 animals to 27 animals.
Oros further extrapolates that anticipated post-reproduction (August) populations of these units will show declines from the preceding pre-harvest populations. This analysis indicates that the controlled hunts are accomplishing the agency’s long-term objective of helping maintain more stable deer populations on a park-by-park basis.
Besides the archery tackle-only controlled hunts the park district also conducted regulated firearms hunts but only on three units, including the Rookery, Observatory Park, and the West Woods in Russell Township.
In every case since the program began more deer are killed annually by archery hunters than by firearms hunters.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn