Natural Resources/ Deer Management Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you have to hunt deer in the parks?

Deer have caused environmental damage because of over-population. Wildflowers, tree seedlings and landscaped areas have suffered detrimental losses. The Natural Resources Management section of Cincinnati Parks department is responsible for maintaining the balance between all flora and fauna within the parks system.

Is there a more humane way to manage the deer population?

Parks studied all available options before deciding on lethal removal as the best option to reduce the deer herd. Two of the options we get the most questions about are Trap/Release, and Contraception. Trapping and releasing is not an option in Ohio. The Division of Wildlife (DOW) does not allow it. The reason is it can be a stressful event for the deer. Over 60% of them die within a year of being relocated. It is not legal and is not truly humane. Contraception is considered to be experimental in the state of Ohio, and can only be approved by the DOW as a research project. The Cincinnati Park Board and the DOW have recently approved a research project to sterilize the deer in the Clifton parks – Rawson/Edgewood, and Mt. Storm. Female deer (does) will be tranquilized, transported to a mobile veterinary facility, and have their ovaries removed. They will be ear tagged for future reference, some will be radio collared to monitor movement. The stated objectives of this 3 year project are to reduce the population and to quantify local immigration rates.

Why are the trails closed so early?

It is important to note that in most locations we have left many of the trails open and we have left most of the trails open for hiking on Tuesdays and Wednesdays – please see maps and calendars. Deer season is set by the State of Ohio Division of Wildlife with the first 2 weeks of the season are the most productive with the next most productive time being the end of October. It is important that we try to take full advantage of our most productive dates of the season. It is also important that we don’t restrict public access during fall leaf change. Therefore, Parks has decided to close (to the public) certain areas for the first week of the deer season (9/29/2018-10/14/2018) we then will open them back up to the public for the rest of October, and re-close on November 10 for hunting. Leaving the areas open to the public on weekends and the majority of October. Please refer to the trail closure page for accurate closure info on all parks with hunting.

Why are the trails closed so long?

In order to be an effective program our hunters need to remove as many deer as possible within the hunting season. Therefore they need to have as much time as possible to hunt. As explained in the question above we also need to allow as much public access as possible, which is why we’re leaving many trails open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as most of October.

Why are you hunting in a nature preserve?

In order to maintain a Magrish & California Woods as preserves, all species within the preserve must be managed to support all of the other species. When one species dominates the preserve (whether it is honeysuckle or deer) the rest of the species (plants & animals) that depend on them for food or nesting suffer and the preserve supports fewer species.

Does the deer meat get donated?

The hunters are allowed to keep the meat or donate it to food banks.

If we feed the starving deer, will this solve the problem?

Supplemental feeding does more harm than good. Feeding tends to group the deer together making the spread of disease more likely, and reproduction can’t be controlled.

I am worried that a deer with an arrow will run into my backyard!

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 Jim Godby at 513.861.9070 or call your local police department if there are any problems.

Are you seeing beneficial results from this program?

Yes. Cincinnati Parks has been actively managing the deer herd in select parks since 2007. The deer hunting programs have been safe and successful seasons, since the start. The 2012/2013 season had 151 hunters successfully pass qualifications and numbers are being successfully reduced, but we have still not reached the recommended levels of deer population.

Is this really safe?

Safety is Cincinnati Parks’ top priority. Bow hunters are considered to be the safest hunters in the field. According to National Safety Council statistics, hunting is considered to be safer than many other sports, including swimming, baseball, and even badminton. There are also several safety measures are in place to help assure the public, employees and bow hunters are safe. These measures include:

  • Following all State of Ohio Bow Hunting Regulations
  • Passing the State of Ohio Hunter Safety Program
  • Demonstrating accuracy by passing a qualification shoot
  • Hunting only in authorized areas
  • Wearing a safety harness while in a tree stand
  • Hand selection of the safest and most proficient hunters