Oak Mountain State Park Takes Action to Control Deer Population
Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham, Ala., will be closed during the four regulated archery hunts that are scheduled to control the Oak Mountain deer population and improve the herd health. The four hunts will take place on October 27, 2009, November 10, 2009, December 8, 2009, and January 5, 2010. Hunters have harvested 211 deer at Oak Mountain State Park since the regulated hunts began in 2004. This limited harvest has begun the slow process of reducing the overpopulated deer herd at Oak Mountain State Park.
The park will be closed except for the golf course, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Persons wishing to play golf at Oak Mountain during that time frame may schedule a tee time in advance of the hunt days (first come, first served) by calling 205-620-2522.
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) began the regulated archery hunts to reduce deer numbers at Oak Mountain State Park in 2004. Scientific data provided by herd health checks and necropsy confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation, which necessitated the hunts to maintain the health of the Oak Mountain deer population. Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting.
Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer grazing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds were negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land. Further planning research to be conducted in 2010 will highlight improvements within the park and the whitetail deer population.
Currently, short-term gains in certain plant survivability, ground-nesting activity and general deer weights appear to be more positive. Hunters may donate harvested deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, which distributes processed venison to local food banks. In the 2008-2009 hunting season, 43,970 pounds of venison were donated by Alabama hunters to the HHH program.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com