Archery deer hunts to be held in parks this fall

Archery deer hunting will take place in three Anoka County regional parks this fall in an effort to keep the white-tailed deer populations at sustainable levels.

The controlled hunts will be at Bunker Hills Regional Park, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and Rice Creek Chain of Lake Regional Parks.

Archery deer hunts have taken place annually at both Coon Rapids Dam and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes regional parks, but this is the first time in three years that they have been scheduled for Bunker Hills Regional Park, according to Jeff Perry, Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department park operations manager.

“The goal of the management plan for white-tailed deer within the county parks is 15 to 20 per square mile,” Perry said.

The deer population in the parks is monitored and determined by a winter aerial survey, he said.

The lack of snow last winter presented a challenge, but the aerial survey was done when the county received a significant snowfall in early March, Perry said.

And when the surveys show that number of deer per square mile exceeds 15 to 20, then the controlled hunts are scheduled, he said.

According to documents presented to the county board and its Parks and Recreation Committee, which recommended the issuance of deer hunting permits for the three parks, the deer population density in Bunker Hills Regional Park is estimated at 42 per square mile, at 38 per square mile in Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and 40 deer per square mile at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

An excess deer population creates a danger to users of roads and highways within the park and adjoining properties, the county board resolutions approving the issuance of the deer hunting permits state.

Perry presented to the county board a deer hunting plan and season for each of the three parks.

• Bunker Hills Regional Park: 33 total permits, 11 issued for each of three sessions – Oct. 26-28, Nov. 9-11 and Dec. 7-9.

• Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park: 36 total permits, 12 issued for each of three sessions – Oct. 26-28, Nov. 9-11 and Dec. 7-9.

• Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park: 100 total permits, 50 issued for each of two sessions – Oct. 20-Nov. 9 and Nov. 10-Dec. 31.

According to Perry, the winter survey showed 170 deer in Bunker Hills Regional Park’s 3.25 square miles, 46 deer in the one square mile of Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and 110 deer at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park which totals 4.5 square miles.

To meet the desired 15 to 20 deer per square miles sustainability level, Perry said 45 deer need to be harvested in Bunker Hills Regional Park, about 20 in Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and 60 at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

“Sometimes, hunters cull 100 percent of the target figure; other years they don’t,” he said.

In response to concerns by hunters who have sought archery deer hunting permits from Anoka County in the past and never received one, the county parks and recreation department has changed its computer software program which determines which applicants get permits, according to Perry.

“With the new software, hunters who apply are assured of getting a permit at least once every three years,” Perry said.

“If they don’t get a permit the first two years, they will get one the third year.”

“It’s a random choice and a roll of the dice.”

Applicants will need a large game license from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be eligible for a deer hunting permit from the county, Perry said.

In addition, they must attend a pre-hunt orientation that the county conducts for each of the three park locations, at which time hunters are given information about the dates and times of day for the hunts, as well as the areas of each park where hunting can take place, he said.

There will be one orientation meeting each for the hunts at Bunker Hills and Coon Rapids Dam regional parks and two sessions for Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park because of the number of permits that will be issued for that park, Perry said.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com


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