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Contact: Lynda Lancaster, 219-395-1682
The National Park Service has released a draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore seeking public comment. Each unit of the National Park Service is driven by federal enabling legislation and this management plan is needed to ensure that the local deer population does not harm the park’s biologically diverse natural communities. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was established in part to preserve the exceptional biological diversity of Northwest Indiana, including many threatened and endangered plants and animals. The White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement is available online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu or you can request a hard copy or CD at the address listed below.
The national lakeshore will host an open house at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center on March 12, 2009 from 5:00 p. m. to 8:00 p. m. featuring informational displays about the deer management plan. The meeting is in an open house format, you can arrive at any time and stay as long as you'd like. A brief 15 minute presentation will be given at 5:30pm.
The best way to comment is to use the electronic form located at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu. Click the document on which you wish to comment.
If you cannot use the electronic form, you may mail or drop off a hard copy comment form and/or letter to:
Attention: Randy Knutson, Wildlife Biologist
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1100 North Mineral Springs Rd.
Porter, IN 46304-1299
The comment period closes on 04/24/2009. Your written comments must also be postmarked no later than 04/24/2009.
The White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement evaluates four possible management actions in depth.
1. Under alternative A (no action), current deer management actions — including limited fencing, limited use of repellents, and inventorying and monitoring efforts — would continue. No new deer management actions would be taken.
2. Alternative B would include all actions described under alternative A but would also incorporate non-lethal actions to possibly reduce deer numbers in the national lakeshore. The additional actions would include the construction of additional small- and new large scale exclosures, more extensive use of repellents in areas where fenced exclosures would not be appropriate or feasible, and phasing in nonsurgical reproductive control of does when there is a federally approved fertility control agent available for application to free-ranging populations that provides multi-year (more than four years) efficacy for does.
3. Alternative C would include all actions described under alternative A but would also incorporate a direct reduction of the deer herd size through sharpshooting and capture/euthanasia, where appropriate.
4. Alternative D would also include all the actions described under alternative A but would incorporate a combination of specific lethal and non-lethal actions from Alternatives B and C. These actions would include the reduction of the deer herd through sharpshooting, in combination with capture/euthanasia and phasing in of nonsurgical reproductive control of does (as described in alternative B) for longer-term maintenance of lower herd numbers when there is a federally approved fertility control agent for application to free-ranging populations that provides multi-year (more than four years) efficacy for does.
Each alternative addresses the potential environmental consequences for vegetation, soils and water quality, white-tailed deer and deer habitat, other wildlife and wildlife habitat, sensitive and rare species, archeological resources, cultural landscapes, visitor use and experience, visitor and employee health and safety, soundscapes, socioeconomic conditions, and national lakeshore management and operations.
The National Park Service’s preferred alternative, Alternative D would best protect, preserve, and enhance the natural processes within the national lakeshore to maintain a viable deer population since there would be little, if any, uncertainty involved with implementing the selected methods to maintain low deer numbers. Alternative D would also best protect the biological and physical environment by ensuring an immediate reduction in deer herd numbers that could be sustained with proven methods over the life of the plan.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 391 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.