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Metro Parks allows bow hunting to thin deer herds

7/24/2008 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

GREATER AKRON — Bow hunters will be allowed into four areas of Summit County to hunt deer this fall and winter through a program planned by the local parks district.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County announced July 16 that permits will be available for bow hunters as part of its deer management program.

The district has used sharpshooters, who are trained Metro Parks employees, for the past several years, according to Metro Parks spokesman Nathan Eppink. That program will continue this year as well.

The bow hunters, who must be Summit County residents, will be allowed into portions of the Columbia Run and Quick Road conservation areas in Boston Township; Furnace Run Metro Park in Richfield Township; and the Pond Brook Conservation Area in Liberty Park in Twinsburg. The areas are remote with limited public access.

“The reason we’ve opted for bow hunting is because of access,” Eppink said. “It’s easier for bow hunters to go in there than it would be for sharpshooters. It would be difficult to get equipment into those areas, and the deer densities there are much higher than we would like.”

Countywide, the deer population is high, Eppink said. He added Summit County has consistently ranked in the top five locations in the state for deer-auto collisions.

“They don’t have any natural predators here in Ohio,” Eppink said. “Wolves are no longer in the state and haven’t been for 100 years. The deer have learned to live among people.”

The large population also has led the animals to seek out food they wouldn’t normally choose, such as shrubs and birdseed.

“When density levels get to the level they are, not only do deer-vehicle collisions increase, but they are a threat to biodiversity,” Eppink said.

The bow-hunting program will allow 34 permits for hunting pairs, so up to 68 hunters will be able to participate. Those who are interested must first pass an archery performance test, which is being administered at three locations: The Marksman, 3017 Barber Road in Norton, (330) 745-2000; Hadley’s Sports, 4023 S. Main St. in Akron, (330) 645-9393; and Gander Mountain, 2695 Creekside Drive in Twinsburg, (330) 405-2999. The test is free.

Those who pass must bring the test results to Coventry Oaks Pavilion, 40 Axline Ave., in Firestone Metro Park Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Hunters must fill out an application, and those who qualify will be put into a group from which the 34 permit holders will be randomly chosen. Applications are only available at the lottery.

There will be an “apprentice” application for juveniles as well as an adult application, Eppink said, who added there is no minimum age for a juvenile, but they must hunt with an adult.

Those who receive permits will be assigned to one of the areas being targeted for a two-week period from Sept. 27 to Feb. 1. There only will be one permitted pair allowed in the area during that time.

Program rules require hunters to first take an antlerless deer before one with antlers. They may harvest up to seven deer, Eppink said.

Rules and details about the program are available at www.summitmetroparks.org under “Inside Metro Parks” at “Deer Management.” The phone number is (330) 867-5511.

Hunters also must abide by all hunting regulations from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Eppink said.

With the sharpshooter program, Metro Parks donated the venison to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. The district reports that during the 2007-08 season, sharpshooters culled 257 deer, with 9,850 pounds of venison donated to the organization.

The bow hunters will be allowed to do what they like with their venison, Eppink said. Donating is an option, but Eppink said the district doesn’t plan to facilitate the donation for the hunters.

Eppink said following completion of the hunting period, the program will be assessed and likely take place again next year.

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