Starting in early October and lasting into early December, bow hunters will begin the annual task of thinning deer numbers at 10 Ramsey County parks.
During the hunts, entire parks or portions of a park may be closed, the county announced. Efforts will be made to keep major paved hiking and biking trails open while the hunts are going on. Signs will be posted at common entry points, and park visitors are asked to stay out of these areas during the hunts.
The hunt is needed because of the high deer population in Ramsey County, which exceeds the recommendations for a healthy deer herd set by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. High deer populations damage park vegetation and pose a safety risk because of increased vehicle collisions.
Deer population goals are set each year based on an aerial survey. Hunts typically remove about 100 deer from the parks, according to county data.
This year's survey found 289 deer in county parks, according to spokeswoman Allison Winters, 83 more than the management goal. Another 490 were counted in areas just outside the parks.
The annual fall deer hunts are held as part of the Ramsey County Cooperative Deer Management Plan, approved by the Ramsey County Board. The hunts are a joint effort between the county and communities where the parks are located, including Maplewood, St. Paul, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Township. The venison typically is donated to local food shelves.
This will be the 14th year the Parks and Recreation department has held the special-permit hunts. All participating hunters have passed a DNR archery safety class, a shooting proficiency test and have agreed to special hunt rules. Archers for the 2013 hunts already have been selected. (Archers interested in participating in future hunts should visit the organization's website at www.mbrb.org.)
Most hunts will be held Friday through Sunday, with select hunts being held Monday through Wednesday to help minimize the impact on weekend park and trail users. Each hunt period is three days long, with two to three weeks between the first and second hunts.