Windsor

100 deer to be culled at Point Pelee National Park

One hundred deer need to be eliminated from Point Pelee National Park, so a deer cull will begin Jan. 12 in effort to trim the park's deer population.

Caldwell First Nation to conduct hunt and use meat for ceremonial, personal and community use

Point Pelee will be closed during the deer cull. (Bobby Haven/Associated Press)

One hundred deer need to be eliminated from Point Pelee National Park, in Leamington, Ont., so a deer cull will begin Jan. 12 in effort to trim the park's deer population.

Park superintendent Karen Linauskas estimates there are 130 deer in the park. She says the park can sustain a maximum of 32 deer.

Linauskas said the park has about four or five square kilometres of appropriate vegetation for deer and, ideally, there would be between six and eight deer per square kilometre.

Research at Point Pelee shows that “over-browsing by deer is significantly threatening the forest and savannah ecosystems in the park," park officials say in a new release.

The park is partnering with Caldwell First Nation who will be hunting the deer and using the meat for ceremonial, personal and community use.

The park has an agreement with Caldwell First Nation to ensure the cull is effective and humane, including evaluating the types of weapons being used.

Hunters will be allowed to use shotguns and rifles, weapons normally prohibited in deer hunting in southern Ontario.

To ensure public safety, the park will be closed on days the cull is taking place.

The cull runs through Jan. 23.

Linauskas doesn't believe all 100 deer will be killed during the cull. She's hoping the number of deer s closer to the target within three years.

"We hope to move to a model perhaps where its a more regular but smaller operation every year," she said. "The challenge with deer populations in southwestern Ontario is we no longer have the large predators which would have controlled the deer population naturally."

Natural predators like wolves, cougars and bears are no longer in the area.

"So that natural processes that would have controlled the population aren't there and part of our goal is to mimic that process because that's often the best way to manage the population," Linauskas said.

The first deer cull at Point Pelee was in 1991. The last one was in 2009, when 22 deer were killed.

On mobile? Read the Parks Canada media release here.

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