Duke Forest opens for controlled deer hunt
Posted September 12, 2008 5:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2008 3:18 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — Duke University's Duke Forest opened for hunting Monday in an effort to slow down the damage from a surging deer population.
Researchers estimate as many as 80 white-tail deer per square mile in parts of the forest, more than four times the recommended number.
"We've made the decision that we need to try to control the deer herd to some extent," said Judson Eideburn, resource manager for Duke Forest.
Eideburn and others say the deer are eating just about everything in their path and that affects, not only habitat for other animals, but the regeneration of the forest.
"The forest is essentially dying, because the deer are overrunning it," Duke researcher Jeff Pippen said.
Four of six sections of the 7,000-acre forest – Blackwood, Durham, Eno and Hillsboro – will be open Monday through Thursday until Dec. 30 to designated hunters from two local clubs.
No hunting will be allowed Friday through Sunday or on holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year's Day, and public hunting is not allowed.
Bow hunting will take place on the Durham Division, while bow and gun hunting will take place on the Blackwood, Eno and Hillsboro divisions, Duke said.
Signs will mark the hunting sections, and officials say that for safety reasons, the sections will be closed for recreation during those times.
Forest officials say its necessary, but understand some people are upset by the plan.
"This has taken years, on our part, and it's a difficult decision, because we know it affects a lot of people. But we've done it with a lot of thought, with a lot of input," Eideburn said.