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The Carletonian

7 Arb Deer Killed in Winter Break Bow Hunt

<ny Carleton students are unaware of activity that takes place in the arboretum from Thanksgiving Day to December 31, the annual season for bow hunters to harvest deer from within the arb.

“People are surprised” to learn about the deer hunt in the arb “because it happens when most people are gone,” Arboretum Director Nancy Braker explained.

But despite students’ ignorance, each year the Arboretum Office issues permits to both local and non-local hunters to bow-hunt deer within the arboretum limits, and issued 34 permits this past season.

Implemented in 1998, the hunting program exists to help control deer population in the arb.

“It’s based on ecological need,” Braker said. “The deer population is much higher than the habitat can maintain and be in a healthy condition.”

Deer are especially detrimental to young, freshly planted trees, as they eat the buds off of the plants during winter.

To balance the habitat, Braker’s “goal is to have hunters harvest 9-10 deer every year,” although this number fluctuates annually with success rates and the Department of Natural Resources’ recommendations. “Some years are more successful than others” according to Brakerwith only 7 deer harvested this past season.

The hunt is “very highly regulated” by arboretum staff, and archers must fill out detailed applications starting October 1st. “We want to make sure they’re safe hunters, that they’ve had a hunter safety class, and that they’re experienced.”

Although some archers come from Faribault or other cities, most who participate in the hunt come from the local Northfield area and “a number of people have hunted with us since the program started.” According to Braker, the arb staff gives preference to those with a Carleton connection, and two Carleton students participated in last season’s hunt.

Local archer Dwayne Cowdin, who has bow hunted since 1971, hunts “mainly because the arb is so overpopulated,” but also because “it’s hard to find good areas to hunt nearby.” He has successfully hunted 10 deer in the twelve years that he has participated in the arb’s deer hunt.

Some may express concern over safety, because the arboretum is not closed to the public during the hunt. Instead, signs are posted on entrances asking users to stay on designated trails.

However, according to Braker, “that’s really to allow the hunters to be more successful” and not to disturb deer, “as the deer are really accustomed to people walking on the trails and so they pay almost no attention to them.” The nature of bow hunting, which requires an archer to watch deer for long periods of time before taking a shot, also ensures other users’ safety. “It’d really be very difficult for them to have an accident.

”The timing of the hunt, during winter break, also ensures higher success rates and fewer inconvenienced users. “Because the arb is so heavily used when term is in session, it would not be successful for the hunters and I think it would be startling for the users” Braker explained.

Braker also said that the hunt is limited to bows, as guns are not permitted within city limits. “But really it’s more for safety. We would have to close the arb if we allowed a gun hunt, and we don’t want to do that to our other users.”

While the safety of other users is guaranteed, Reference and Instruction Librarian for Sciences, Charles Priore, believes the deer hunt may have led to his close encounter with a buck. On December 3rd, Priore was leaving the CMC when looked up to see a four point buck.

“I realized that if I didn’t move, I was going to get struck down by the deer, so I jumped off the sidewalk onto the grass, and he ran by me and kept on going.” The deer then ran to Olin, where it crashed through the window into the building. According to Priore, security eventually cornered the deer, forced him back through the window, where he then “took off and went to the arb.

”Priore wonders if the animal was driven toward campus in an attempt to flee an archer. While his experience was startling, he wholeheartedly supports the deer hunt, saying “the arb cannot sustain that many deer without them starving to death. I think the college has done an excellent job of reducing the deer herd to a very manageable population.”

The deer hunt garners wide and varied support. Even SOPE co-president, Sarah Lukins ’15, noted the necessity of the hunt, saying “While I do not necessarily like the idea of killing animals, at least in the arb it has environmentally beneficial outcomes.”

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