Referred to as an “effective” wildlife management tool for the Acworth site, Red Top Mountain State Park will conduct a quota deer hunt Tuesday and Wednesday. During the two days, the park will be closed to the public, although county roads running through the property still will be accessible.
“Before the managed hunts were conducted regularly here at Red Top Mountain State Park, the deer population soared on this property,” Red Top Mountain Park Manager Kelly Howington said. “Since the park is in the shape of a peninsula, the deer had difficulty spreading out and began competing for space and resources. This left what would have naturally [been] a balanced ecosystem, a space where there was little flora to support the other fauna that call our acreage home.
“Once the deer consumed the vegetation that was naturally in their diet, they began to eat plants and other things that they would not normally choose. This resulted in an unhealthy herd that was malnourished and oftentimes far too comfortable with people and cars. The biennial hunts maintain a healthy balance by helping to ensure that the deer that do reside on the park have the space and resources necessary not only to survive, but to thrive. From a public safety standpoint, the hunts also help reduce the frequency of automobile accidents arising from deer in the roadways.”
Started in 2006, the managed hunts are a joint effort involving various agencies, such as Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and Georgia State Parks’ Resource Management Unit.
For the upcoming effort, 50 hunters were randomly picked through Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources quota selection process — each having the opportunity to take two deer. On the hunt’s first day, an “earn-a-buck” condition will be in place, where a doe must be killed prior to a buck.
“The priority [of this managed deer hunt] is to maintain a healthy deer herd, protect natural vegetation and where possible, reduce negative social impacts to local residents, like deer versus motor vehicle accidents,” said Brian Nichols, program manager for Georgia DNR’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division. “Managed deer hunts conducted safely have proven to be effective in achieving these results.
“The current population estimate is up approximately 20 percent — roughly 82 deer/square mile — from 2015, which aligns with a hiatus of the 2016 hunt season. ... An end goal for deer/square mile following the managed hunt would be 35 [to] 45.”
For more information, contact Red Top at 770-975-0055 or visit http://gastateparks.org/RedTopMountain.