CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia State Parks will host controlled hunts at six parks this fall. Parks Chief Brad Reed announced the locations at the May meeting of the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission.
They’ll be staged at Beech Fork, Canaan Valley, Cacapon, North Bend, Pipestem, and Twin Falls State Parks.
“Our park managers are on the ground every day and they see where they have population issues with whitetail deer,” Reed said in a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors.
The deer become abundant in the parks over time with abundant food sources and low pressure from hunters. Reed said it’s common to notice browse lines and a negative impact on vegetation in the parks when the deer have become too abundant. Another problem is the large numbers of guests feeding deer, which is illegal, and creates dangerous interactions for both the guests and the wildlife.
“We love our deer and we want park guests to be able to see deer when they come to visit, but we also need to be appropriate managers and when we have an over population causing browse lines and other management issues the controlled hunt has just been a great tool to deal with those situations,” Reed said.
Each of the hunts will be a combination of archery and muzzleloader hunting, with the exception of the hunt at Twin Falls State Park. Twin Falls is located in Wyoming County which is one of the state’s four archery only hunting counties for deer. The Twin Falls hunt will not allow crossbows since those too are prohibited in the four bowhunting counties unless the hunter has a Class Y permit.
The aim will be to remove antlerless deer from the park landscape and reduce the overall population. However, in some cases a limited draw is made on the day of the hunt to allow hunters some hunters to kill a buck or a doe during the outing.
“We’re trying to reduce the number of deer on the parks, but one of our missions is to provide recreation for the public so we are trying to diversify to create recreation, but also to try and thing those deer out a little bit,” said Reed.
Controlled deer hunts have become common on West Virginia State Parks and over the years have proven to be effective. The hunts are closely monitored by DNR biologists to insure they reach the desired impact. Hunters wishing to participate will have to apply for a permit which will be drawn in a lottery ahead of the hunting dates. Application for those hunts will be make available later this year. There is a $15 non-refundable application fee.