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Indiana DNR to recommend new deer rules

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

-- A package of recommended changes to deer hunting rules will be presented to the Natural Resources Commission at its Jan. 11 meeting at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis.

The recommendations were developed after the NRC withdrew preliminary approval of an earlier plan because overwhelming public comment opposed shortening some segments of the deer hunting seasons.

Division of Fish and Wildlife staff biologists believe the proposed multiple shorter seasons in the earlier plan, some for antlerless deer only, would have contributed to the goal of reducing deer numbers by placing greater emphasis on hunting of antlerless deer.

"The new proposal has the same objective -- to focus deer herd reduction in a strategically-targeted manner to more adequately balance ecological, recreational and economic needs of the citizens of Indiana," said Mark Reiter, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife director. "Our responsibility is to manage wildlife for all Hoosiers. Some pointed to the previous proposal as an effort to manage the herd for trophy animals or increase license revenue. That was not the case."

The new recommendations maintain the focus but leave the firearms and muzzleloader seasons at their traditional 16-day lengths and drop a proposed two-day October season.

"This new proposal was created by DNR staff using historic data gathered for deer management in Indiana, feedback from comments received during the initial proposal and data from surrounding states," according to Mitch Marcus, wildlife section chief. "We can't emphasize enough that the goal is to reduce deer numbers in a strategic manner-not everywhere, but certainly in areas of the state where it's needed to address the balance we're trying to achieve."

Three key points of the new recommendation are carryovers from the previous proposal:

-- Adding a special antlerless only firearms season from Dec. 26 through the first Sunday in January of the following year in counties with a bonus antlerless quota of four or more deer.

-- Extending the urban zone season through Jan. 31 of the following year.

-- Requiring hunters hunting in an urban zone during the urban zone season to take at least one antlerless deer before taking an antlered deer.
 
New components include:

-- Changing the current split archery season to a single season from Oct. 1 through the first Sunday in January.

--.Allowing a crossbow to be used by any hunter during the archery season and establishes a special crossbow license.

-- Adding two new licenses (a crossbow license for use in the archery season, and an urban zone license) and offering a license bundle at a reduced price that would allow one antlered deer and two antlerless deer to be taken during the special youth, archery, firearms, muzzleloader and special antlerless seasons combined.

The full text of the recommended rules package can be found in the January meeting agenda at www.in.gov/nrc/2350.htm. Additional information is available at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/  Click on the "Rule/Regulation Changes" link in the left column.

If the NRC grants preliminary adoption at its Jan. 11 meeting, it would be only the fifth step in a 34-step checklist that can take as much as a year to complete.

A vote for preliminary adoption would be followed by a public comment period overseen by the NRC Division of Hearings. The recommended rule changes and a convenient online comment link would be posted at  www.in.gov/nrc/2377.htm .

The NRC also would accept written comments mailed to Division of Hearings, Indiana Government Center North, 100 North Senate Avenue, Room N501, Indianapolis, IN, 46204-2200. For more information contact Phil Bloom (317)232-4003 or pbloom@dnr.IN.gov

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