Carbondale Allows Bow Hunting at Cedar Lake

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE -- Bow hunters will have a new place to go this fall. The Carbondale city council has approved opening Cedar Lake to archers as a way to cut down on the number of deer.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says about 15 to 20 deer per square mile is pretty high, and the supervisor at Cedar Lake estimates there's more than that near the reservoir. The deer escalation is causing some problems.
     
As peach lovers gear up for the harvest season, some local growers are also counting their losses.
 
"They'll get in here on the underside of these trees and just work it over," says Andy McNitt with McNitt's Growers.
 
He showed us some of the damage to the peach and apple trees that belong to his neighbors at Echo Valley Orchards.
 
"We have nibble bites here on both the stem and the leaf," he says.
 
The deer have also taken a liking to McNitt's grapes and strawberries, causing thousands of dollars in losses. So he's happy to hear of the new Carbondale ordinance allowing bow hunting on city property on the north side of Cedar Lake.
 
"They go back there and they bed, they provide for their young, and then they come out and they eat on our crops."
 
Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity says while there's no official deer count, there are telltale signs.
 
"They're being pushed out of the area of the lake, city-owned property, onto private property to find forage for food," Baity explains. "And that is a good indicator that you have an excessive amount of deer."
 
There won't be any special rules outside IDNR regulations, but archers won't be allowed near the boat ramp, beach, or the intake for the water treatment plant.
     
Mayor Don Monty says opening up the property should help.
 
"It'll take time. It could take a good many years, but gradually the herd can be thinned down to a sustainable number," says Monty.
 
McNitt is eager to see the results but suggests the city add a rule to shoot does first.
 
Baity says permanent deer stands will not be allowed. The 2014 archery season begins October 1 and runs until January 18.
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