The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is closing parks for a quota deer hunt. Here are details:
Where: All parks, except West Bank, along Buford Dam Road, as well as the Laurel Ridge Trail — a total of 600 acres
When: Jan. 5-6
Laurel Ridge Trail and most of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks along Buford Dam Road are set to close Jan. 5-6 for a quota deer hunt sponsored by the corps.
Only West Bank Park will remain open during the event, which is being held as a public safety measure and to ensure the health of the deer population.
The corps has chosen 21 hunters through a lottery that was open to the public. Hunters can use only bow and arrow as they search for no more than two deer each — one can be a doe and one can be a buck — in the 600-acre designated area.
Archery is required for public safety reasons, as many areas around Lake Lanier are highly developed, said Park Ranger Jeff Emmert.
"Archery requires the deer to be much closer to the hunter," he said.
Hunters must wear orange at all times they’re engaged in the sport, according to information on the corps’ Web site.
Controlling the deer population is key.
Corps officials said the event should lessen the threat of motorists striking deer crossing the well-traveled Buford Dam Road in Gwinnett County.
Georgia ranks fifth in the nation in deer-vehicle collisions, with as many as 5,000 a year in recent years. Wildlife officials say the reduction of the deer population from a high of 1.4 million to the current population of approximately 1 million through regulated hunting has helped decrease the rate in recent years.
"In addition, food resources naturally decline during the winter months, causing stress to the deer population," according to a press release issued by Park Ranger Craig Sowers.
"By reducing the number of deer, the food resources in the Buford Dam area will better meet the deer population needs."
The corps has conducted population estimates and worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to ensure responsible wildlife management, Sowers said.
"This is the first year for the hunt around the Buford Dam area," Emmert said. "We have completed our third year of our island hunting program."
Both are archery only and serve to control deer numbers, he added.