S. Indiana city's deer might face sharpshooters

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- A task force is expected to recommend using sharpshooters and a longer hunting season to reduce the number of deer that have been wandering into Bloomington from the surrounding woods, the group's leader said.

So many deer are living around the southern Indiana city that they are having a negative ecological impact in some places where undergrowth has been devastated by overgrazing, said Dave Rollo, chairman of the Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force.

"Biodiversity has crashed, basically, in areas where deer are grazing," he told The Herald-Times for a story Wednesday (http://bit.ly/K6iHsf ).

The task force is expected to give recommendations to city, county and Indiana University officials early this summer.

Rollo, who is a city council member, said one expected recommendation would be to establish fenced-in areas baited with food where sharpshooters would shoot the deer.

The report is also expected to recommend that city and county officials ask the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to extend the existing hunting season schedule in the area, allowing more deer to be killed in rural areas around Bloomington, Rollo said.

The task force has considered nonlethal options for deer control - such as sterilization, fencing and relocation - but found many of those both cost-prohibitive and ineffective, he said.

For instance, many deer that are trapped and relocated die from the stress of being captured, while surviving deer face additional stress from being released in unfamiliar places.

"People think it might be humane, and it's anything but humane," Rollo said. "Part of our consideration has always been the welfare of the deer, as well as the welfare of the people and the natural environment where the deer are."

Ruth Boshkoff said she and others in her wooded neighborhood just southeast of Bloomington are frustrated by deer causing property damage and stripping the forest's undergrowth.

"I'm worried that the deer are killing all the young trees on the forest floor that are trying to come up," Boshkoff said. "These trees are fairly old, so when these go, there won't be anything but scrubby stuff to supplant them."


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