Specified areas and trails within Cincinnati Parks throughout the year are closed for portions of time for trail restoration, environmental restoration or removal of hazardous trees in order to sustain the natural resources and wildlife within the parks. Please review the below table for a full list of trail notifications. Learn more about our Controlled Bow Hunting program. Controlled Bow Hunting occurs this year from September 25, 2021 to February 6, 2021.
There are no active long term trail closures at this time. Cincinnati Parks staff and volunteers do daily and weekly projects maintaining our vast and beautiful trail system. Please abide by any temporary signs you may come across while hiking for ecological restoration projects in process. If you would like to volunteer for Conservation and Land Stewardship please click here to see opportunities you can help.
One of the greatest challenges throughout our park system is the loss of young tree seedlings and spring wildflowers, due to the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. This loss alters forest composition and the long-term regeneration of future forest. As a result of this changing ecosystem, all of the wildlife depending upon these resources are negatively impacted.
White-tailed deer are considered a keystone species, known for affecting other organisms in an ecosystem. They are browsers, meaning they eat all forms of plant material including seedlings, leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, bark, young trees and branches. Without the presence of keystone predators, like mountain lions, wolves, and black bear, the uncontrolled overpopulation of deer threatens the natural environment by reducing the diversity of plant life. When left unchecked the forest becomes over-browsed of favorite deer species, such as oak trees, changing the composition of the forest for park patrons to enjoy now and into the future.
The controlled bow hunting program has been well-established since 2008 with an outstanding safety record thanks to a mandatory annual skills test each hunter must pass in order to qualify for the program. Beyond this, all qualified hunters receive educational training delivered by Parks Division of Natural Resource Management staff on the Park Board’s hunting regulations and safety requirements. In discussion with hunters in our parks, park users are regularly found hiking within the designated zones. Therefore, hunters have grown accustomed to creating buffer zones by setting up further from populated areas and popular trails. Park DNR staff also reviewed state and national trail closure policies in relation to hunting programs and found that open trails through hunting zones are a common practice in state and national parks nationwide.
Be Aware. Whenever enjoying our parks be mindful of your surroundings including the other recreational activities taking place in the forest. If you do not feel comfortable hiking in a hunting zone, click here for a list of parks with trails outside of these zones.
Be Seen. Bright colors are encouraged all year round to improve visibility and make it easier for rescue personnel if visitors become lost, sick, or injured while on trails. When entering a controlled bow hunting zone, it is important to wear bright colors, especially true during sunrise and sunset, since you’ll be less visible and have less visibility in the dim light.
Be Smart. Stay on marked trails. All hunting zones have been set at least 30 feet (the distance a bow can travel) away from marked trails.
Dogs on leash. Dogs are permitted on most trails on 6 ft leashes. Keep your dog on leash when hiking the trails.
Parks DNR staff reviewed other options before deciding on controlled bow hunting to reduce the overabundant deer population. Two of the options we get the most questions about are Trap/Release and Contraception. Currently the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (DOW) does not allow trap and release programs in our state as this is both ineffective and studies have shown over 60% of the deer do not survive within a year of relocation due to stress.
Deer contraception is considered experimental in the state of Ohio and can only be approved by the DOW as a research project. Currently there are not any drugs registered with the FDA that can be used in free-roaming deer populations.
The Cincinnati Park Board and the DOW do have an ongoing multi-year a research project which is looking into the use of doe sterilization as a management technique in the Clifton parks – Rawson/Edgewood and Mt. Storm. Female deer (does) are tranquilized, transported to a mobile veterinary facility, and have their ovaries removed. They are also ear tagged for future reference and some are fitted with radio collars to monitor their movement. The stated objectives of this project are to reduce the deer population within the Clifton areas parks and to quantify local deer dispersal patterns.
In order to maintain these areas for the future we have to manage them in a way that maximizes their benefit to the greatest number of native species. When one species dominates the preserve (whether it is honeysuckle or deer) the rest of the plants & animals that depend these areas for habitat suffer. Without deer management in our preserves, our forests will continue to decline with sensitive species like our state wildflower, the Great White Trillium, eventually disappearing from the landscape.
White-tailed deer are considered a keystone species, known for affecting other organisms in an ecosystem. They are browsers, meaning they eat all forms of plant material including seedlings, leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, bark, young trees and branches. Without the presence of keystone predators, like mountain lions, wolves, and black bears, the uncontrolled overpopulation of deer threatens the natural environment by reducing the diversity of plant life. When left unchecked the forest becomes over-browsed of favorite deer species, such as oak trees, changing the composition of the forest for park patrons to enjoy now and into the future.
The hunters are allowed to keep the meat or donate it to food banks. We encourage hunters who harvest more deer than they can use to consider donating the venison to the non-profit Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry. On average the Cincinnati Parks Deer Management program provides for 10,000 meals annually through these donations.
We work to get the best and most accurate hunters in an effort to reduce the chances of a wounded deer not being claimed or wandering onto a neighbor’s property. However, even with the best hunters, there is still a chance of a deer dying on private property. Hunters are not allowed to enter private property without permission of the property owner. If a hunter requests permission to enter your property to track or retrieve a deer it is our hope that the property owner will allow this. Any problems can be reported to your local police department or Natural Resource Management office 513-861-9070 from Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm.
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