The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Recently, a call for assistance was put out by Metroparks of the Toledo Area, requesting that bow hunters help to reduce the problems associated with the unchecked growth of the deer herd.
A carefully managed archery hunt would take place this fall in certain areas of the park system within the Oak Openings corridor, where public access is minimal.
And what was the response? Oh deer, it was a bit overwhelming.
The Metroparks received 1,624 applications to fill the 69 hunting slots that are spaced out over the length of the Ohio bow season, which opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 2.
“Our interest is having a successful deer management program, and we had no idea how much enthusiasm this pilot program would generate,” said Scott Carpenter of Metroparks. “We were pleasantly surprised by the number of applications we received.”
To qualify for inclusion in the lottery and be part of the limited hunt, interested parties had to first visit either Cleland’s Outdoor World in Swanton or Bass Pro Shops in Rossford and demonstrate a certain skill level, then submit an application and a $5 fee. The deadline for applications to be submitted was Sept. 2
The hunters who had their names drawn in the lottery will be issued a permit for a three-week block of time, and according to the rules, each hunter is allowed to bring one licensed hunting partner, but that hunting companion must also qualify by demonstrating their skill level.
Any scouting forays have to take place inside your designated three-week hunting period, so as not to disturb the hunting opportunities of other permit holders.
Once the lottery was conducted and the winners’ names posted, a few hunters cried foul when they saw that certain names had been drawn more than once. Carpenter said the format allowed hunters to apply as many times as they wanted to increase their odds of being drawn, but each application form had to be accompanied by a separate $5 fee.
“Some sent as many as 30 applications,” Carpenter said. “As we stated from the beginning, it was possible to be drawn for more than one slot — and several hunters’ names were indeed drawn more than once.”
The 1,624 applications the Metroparks received for the bow hunting program came from 525 individuals, so numerous hunters did take advantage of the format and entered multiple times.
“The reason we structured the drawing the way we did was to ensure that we covered all the slots,” Carpenter said.
“If we decide to continue the program in future years, we would consider changing the way the lottery is structured.”
The lottery was conducted by Joe Fausnaugh, the chief of rangers for Metroparks, and Tim Schetter, the system’s director of natural resources. Carpenter said the pair used a spreadsheet function to randomly select the winners from a list of all the applications the Metroparks had received by the lottery deadline.
Hunting and/or culling has been used in Ohio’s other major park systems in the Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati, and Dayton areas as an effective means of reducing the size of the local deer herd. Over-browsing by white-tailed deer can effectively eliminate their most desired food sources, destroying habitat for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife in the process
Steve Madewell, executive director of Metroparks, said that as the deer herd expands unchecked, the fragile ecosystem of the Oak Openings region has become more and more stressed.
“With an ever-increasing deer population and limited natural predators, deer are adversely affecting plant populations across the park system,” he said.
The Oak Openings region encompasses a stretch of land some 130 square miles in size, from northern Henry County through sections of Fulton and Lucas counties and into Michigan’s Monroe County.
It is home to savannas and grassland prairies and one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, with more than 150 rare native plant species.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.