NRAO Cancels 2008 Controlled Hunt

 

Deer hunters who had hoped to take a whitetail among the "big ears" of West Virginia’s high country will be disappointed this fall.  The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank has cancelled the 2008 controlled deer hunt on its property in Pocahontas County.

"The decision was made because the kill last year was fairly low," said NRAO Business Manager and hunt coordinator Mike Holstein. "We feel it’s actually indicative of the success of the hunt.  That was the goal all along was to lower the population."

The controlled hunt has been staged every autumn for the last 15-years with great success.   The hunt was cancelled one other time for the same reason.   Holstein says it’s a project that has worked well for the NRAO.    The hunt was one of the first of its kind in the country and has become a model for the proper way to stage a controlled hunt in West Virginia and nationally.

"This has been an outstanding example of a place that you wouldn’t necessarily think you can do a hunt on, but the hunters have been absolutely fantastic,” said Holstein.

The multi-Million dollar ultra-sensitive equipment used to study pulsars and other astronomical phenomenon millions of miles away is tricky business.   Even spark plugs from cars traveling nearby Route 92 cause interference.   Therefore, the management was careful in how they chose to distribute hunters onto the lands to selectively remove female deer from the resident herd.   

Since the first hunt, the NRAO example has been replicated and modified in several places across the country.  The DNR, which runs the hunt for the observatory, uses the template for other places like West Virginia state parks.  Holstein says they’ve also received inquiries from the Army Corps of Engineers and military bases from as far away as Arkansas on how to effectively manage deer on vast tracts of land that is not open to public hunting.

A herd count and health assessment will be conducted in the coming year before a decision is made on a 2009 event.

"We’re going to take a break this year and do another herd count next year and see when we can continue," said Holstein.

 





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