Judge Allows Hunt As Deer Poop Threatens HVL
(Hidden Valley, Ind.) – Despite safety concerns raised by some residents, a judge says bow hunters can continue to hunt in designated areas of Hidden Valley.
The Hidden Valley Property Owners Association is attempting to thin out the large and destructive deer herd – the Department of Natural Resources estimated last year that 200-plus deer are in or around the community – there with an extended hunt.
Regular bow season ended January 1, but the DNR has issued the POA a permit to lengthen the season through March 20.
The regular season bow hunting allowed by the POA in the densely populated community’s greenbelts did not sit well with some residents to begin with.
In the midst of the extended culling effort, residents Carol Schwegel and Darryl and Ashley Howe filed complaints with the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. The complaints triggered a statute requiring an automatic 15-day stay be placed on the deer cull.
An administrative judge heard the two sides’ arguments on Tuesday, and ruled Wednesday that the cull will continue.
“The Claimants presented general evidence indicating a concern for resident safety but this evidence lacks sufficient detail from which the administrative law judge may conclude that irreparable harm is likely or that the threat to public safety from hunting is a greater threat that the threat of continued erosion, sedimentation and elevated E. coli levels in the community’s watershed,” Administrative Law Judge Sandra L. Jensen stated in her ruling.
Jensen wrote the evidence clearly established that an overpopulation of deer exist within the community and that overpopulation of deer is causing or contributing to the destruction of both natural vegetation and residents’ landscaping.
“The lack of vegetative cover is a factor in increased land erosion and lake sedimentation, while the increased incidents of deer feces may be contributing to elevated E. coli levels in surface runoff streams within the Hidden Valley Lake community,” Jensen wrote, noting the factual findings are contrary to the issuance of a stay of effectiveness on the POA’s permit.
Jensen also said that the POA’s rules for bow hunters are reasonable measures to ensure the safety of residents and there have been no incidents reported.
The POA requires hunters to be licensed and pass a proficiency test before they can hunt in HVL. Hunting can only be conducted from an elevated position in the neighborhood’s greenbelts, so that shots that miss or go through a deer will end in the ground.
The judge said the bow hunt is necessary and is conducted in a manner safe for residents.
The complainants do have the option to appeal.
The deer cull can continue immediately.