by Fiona Morgan
Starting Monday, Sept. 15, hikers will find a keep-out sign at the entrance to their favorite Duke Forest trails. The university will close public access to the 7,000-acre forest Mondays through Thursdays until Dec. 30 while it allows hunters to use bows and guns to thin its population of white-tailed deer.
Let's hope those guys are good shots. The forest's six subdivisions are surrounded by residential neighborhoods in Durham, Orange and Alamance counties.
A university announcement explains that not only do the deer present the usual problems -- car wrecks, ticks, the devouring of neighborhood gardens -- they also compromise the research of Duke's biologists, who use the forest to observe plant and animal species
The original announcement from Duke on Aug. 28 did not say how long the season will last, nor who would be doing the hunting or which weapons they would use.
We have now developed a program approved by the University administration to remove deer from the Forest with the assistance of two hunting groups. No public hunting will be allowed. We are working with the Deer Management Assistance Program of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, which determines the number of deer that may be removed to gradually reduce the population.
Hunting will begin September 15 and end December 30, Monday through Thursday. No hunting will be allowed Friday through Sunday or on holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year's Day.
Bow hunting will take place on the Durham Division, while bow and gun hunting will take place on the Blackwood, Eno and Hillsboro Divisions.
The Durham, Blackwood, Eno and Hillsboro Divisions will be closed to public access on hunting days, Monday through Thursday. Signs are posted at the entrance gates. The Korstian and Dailey Divisions will remain open Monday through Sunday during the hunting period. The Al Buehler Cross Country Trail will be open as well.
(Hat tip to Durham resident Neil Jacobs.)