Dates and Registration Guidelines Announced for Four Archery Hunts to Control Deer Numbers in Oak Mountain State Park
For the fifth consecutive year, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) will conduct regulated archery hunts to continue reducing deer numbers at Oak Mountain State Park. In an effort to streamline and increase efficiency, four single-day hunts are planned for December 10, 2008, December 17, 2008, January 20, 2009 and January 27, 2009. In lieu of an online registration and computer selection by ADCNR, a cooperative relationship with Bowhunters of Alabama (BHA) has been formed to provide hunters directly through their organization’s membership base and contacts. Hunters wishing to participate in the scheduled hunts can reach BHA by visiting their Web site at www.alabamabowhunter.com for registration and membership information.
Conservation officials have made several changes to facilitate hunt goals and increase overall deer harvest. Rules for this year’s hunts include the following:
- Hunt registration through Bowhunters of Alabama will begin September 24, 2008.
- Hunters may participate in each of the four hunts, but no more than 80 hunters will be selected per hunt.
- A $10 registration fee payable by cash or check will be collected at the hunter check-in station in the park the morning of each hunt. This fee will offset the costs associated with conducting the hunts.
- Hunter maps with regulation information will be provided by BHA prior to the hunt dates.
- Selected hunters must hold a valid Alabama hunting license and complete a proficiency test conducted by BHA prior to the hunts.
- Oak Mountain State Park will be closed during the four hunt days except for the golf course, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Persons wishing to play during that time frame may schedule a tee time in advance of the hunt days (first come, first served) by calling 205-620-2522.
Hunters have harvested 184 deer at Oak Mountain State Park since the regulated hunts began in 2004. Commissioner M. Barnett Lawley recognizes the important role hunters play in helping control deer populations. “Bowhunters who participate in these hunts realize that helping reduce deer numbers within Oak Mountain State Park will, over time, help improve herd health and vegetative habitat not only for deer but for other wildlife in the park,” said Lawley.
Alabama’s largest park, Oak Mountain provides 9,940 acres of pine-studded ridges and green hardwood bottoms. Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting. Oak Mountain State Park has suffered damaging effects of a deer herd that up until 2004 went unregulated. Scientific data provided by herd health checks and necropsy confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation. After consulting with state wildlife biologists and in consideration of research data, Commissioner Lawley determined that a regulated archery hunt was the most appropriate control measure for the Oak Mountain State Park herd.
Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer grazing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds were negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land.
Currently, short-term gains in certain plant survivability, ground-nesting bird activity and general deer weights appear to be more positive.
Hunters may donate harvested deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, which distributes processed venison to local food banks. In the 2007 hunting season, 51,029 pounds of venison were donated by Alabama hunters to the HHH program.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.