Deer Management Program
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​Deer Management Program
Eagle Creek Park

With the goal of preserving Eagle Creek Park for future generations to enjoy, Indy Parks is implementing a long-term deer management plan to diminish the negative impact of an overabundance of white-tailed deer on the park and surrounding areas


Wildlife biologists recommend a population of 15-20 deer per square mile for a natural habitat comparable in size to Eagle Creek. ​

Recent estimates by wildlife biologists from Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources indicate that Eagle Creek's deer population is as much as ten times what is considered healthy for the Park's ecosystem.  

Impact of Overpopulation 

The overabundance of deer is causing severe damage to the Park's ecosystem and threatening the long-term health of the deer and other species that call Eagle Creek home. 

Overbrowsing by the deer in Eagle Creek has decimated the deer's food supply. Without a sustainable food supply the deer are becoming undersized, malnourished, more prone to disease and more susceptible to parasites. 

Deer are also responsible for residential property damage near the Park, and they present safety concerns for motorists in and around the Park-- as numerous vehicle collisions with deer occur annually on area streets and highways. 

Management Options 

The long-term goal is to reduce the negative impact of the deer on Eagle Creek Park and restore the balance of the Park's ecosystem. 

As the plan is implemented over several years, we will continually evaluate all available​ control methods to determine the best options for the future of the Park. Indy Parks will adjust its plan accordingly based on the herd health, forest regeneration, and plant and wildlife viability in the Park. 

Studies confirm that natural areas where a deer management program is in place see healthier deer, reduction in overbrowsing, reemergence of forest understory, increases in shrub nesting birds and small mammals, and the return of native plants and wildflowers. 

Initial Reduction Phase: Wounded Warrior Outdoors

Eagle Creek Park was closed November 28 -30, 2014, for the initial phase of the Deer Management Program. Wounded Warrior Outdoors utilized 24 participants, 11 of which were local disabled veterans. The activities were executed safely and successfully reduced the herd by 148 deer (26 bucks and 122 does). The 1,740 pounds of venison yielded were donated to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana​, with processing fees paid for by Farmers Feeding the Hungry, Inc.

Reduction Phase Two: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

On January 12-15 and January 20, 2015, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services was employed to reduce deer on the west side of Eagle Creek Reservoir.  Because the reduction took place after dark, when the park is closed, there was no disruption to regular park activities. Park Rangers and IMPD created a perimeter to ensure safety. USDA APHIS Wildlife Services used techniques and equipment selected to allow for safe, humane, and effective operation, including night vision technology.

Phase two resulted in the culling of 101 deer from the west side of Eagle Creek Park, and an additional donation of 3434 pounds of venison to Gleaners Food Bank (including Phase one a total of over 5000 pounds).  A total of  249  deer were culled for the entire reduction, giving us an average of 48 deer/sq mile (well above the recommended level of 15-20 deer/sq mile).  

Informal observations by park naturalists and volunteers in 2015 show small groups  of 2-25 deer throughout the east side of the park, as well as some encouraging early signs of recovery of park vegetation.

2015 USDA Update

Deer density surveys conducted in April of 2015 (after the initial reduction efforts) found an average of 90.7 deer per square mile or approximately 533 deer in the park, with the potential to increase 20% annually. 


        - Continue monitoring deer densities using standardized deer population surveys, records of deer-vehicle collisions and other incidents involving deer, and gauge deer-human conflicts by communication with surrounding residents.  Also continue to monitor vegetation using standardized plot surveys.

        - Continue professional deer removal via sharpshooting to reduce deer densities consistent with park management goals in a reasonable time frame. 

Deer management is a long-term issue.  Deer from uncontrolled areas outside the park will continue to migrate to the park, and new fawns will be born every year.  Since deer can breed and reproduce as one-year-olds, the population has the potential of rebounding to severely overcrowded levels within just a few years.  

2017 USDA Update

In February and March 2017, a total of 173 deer were removed and approximately 8,200 pounds of venison was donated to local food charities.   


Latest News: 

​​Eagle Creek report 2017 final.pdfEagle Creek report 2017 final.pdf

2016 Fact Sheet.pdf2016 Fact Sheet.pdf​​​


US Dpt. of Ag. Recommended Deer Management Plan​


Deer Management Program Phase Two Begins Next Week​

Initial Phase of Eagle Creek Deer Managment Program Yields 4,800 Pounds for Food Pantries

Eagle Creek Park Closed Thanksgiving Weekend​


Browse All Public Domain Research

General Research & Information

Effect of White-tailed Deer at Eagle Creek Park Report - Jenkins, Purdue University.pdf         

9/11/2014 Public Presentation Slide Show

U.S. Forest Service: Just Enough Deer

Indiana DNR Deer Management Brochure

2013 Eagle Creek Effect of White Tail Deer Report Jenkins, Purdue University

 Indiana Department of Fish & Wildlife Urban Deer Technical Guide


2014-2015 Indiana Hunting & Trapping Seasons

US Forest Service - Impacts of White-Tailed Deer Overabundance in Forest Ecosystems: An Overveiw

Sharpshooting Suburban White-Tailed Deer Reduces Deer Vehicle Collisions Denicola Williams 2008

Permanent Plot Studies - Floral Inventories @ Eagle Creek Park

1996 Spring Pond
2007 Spring Pond

2003 - 2007 Five Year Browse Study - Eagle Creek Park

1997 Eagles Crest
2007 Eagles Crest

Municipal Code Reference:
Parks & Rec - General
Injury to Property
Discharging Firearms
Molesting Animals

Other Articles

Improving Habitat for Forest Thrushes

TIME; America's Pest Problem: It's Time to Cull the Herd (Subscription required for full article.)

Impact of White-Tailed Deer on Forest Communities within Brown County State Park Brown Parker 1997

 ​Other Sources of Information on Deer

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