Questions were answered and misconceptions cleared during a meeting in Bethany Wednesday night on a proposal to allow deer hunting during bow season in Genessee County Park, said Parks Supervisor Paul Osborn.
The proposal, which must be approved by the County Legislature, is designed to help thin the deer population in the park, which has grown to nuisance levels as deer are destroying park vegetation and preventing new trees from getting established.
About 60 people attended the meeting.
A few people expressed concerns that were based on misconceptions, Osborn said, such as hunters being able to use guns (they can't) and the potential conflicts with non-hunting users of the park.
The hunters will be confined to 12 zones along the southern border of the park, according to the presentation given to the audience. While the hiking trails will be open, hunters are being told to stay clear of trails and be courteous of others using the park.
No trees will be removed or trimmed nor are hunters allowed to engage in clearing to create shooting lanes. The prohibition is good for conservation, but will limit the distance an arrow can travel, requiring hunters to get closer to their targets and take better shots.
"Our goal is to grow trees, not to cut them down just so we an hunt deer," Osborn said. "Our goal is to grow trees so people can enjoy them."
Hunters will be selected through a lottery Sept. 15, following a Sept. 11 deadline for applications, which open Aug. 17.
Two zones will be set aside for youth and disabled veterans, and young hunters and disabled veterans will be given priority over hunters from outside Genesee County.
In all, 48 hunters will be selected to receive permits for the four-week season, which runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 15.
There is a mandatory informational class Oct. 3, which is where the permits will be distributed to the 48 winners upon payment of a $25 fee.
Each winning hunter will be granted permission to hunt in a single zone for a single week.
The first deer taken must be anterless. The second deer can be either a legal deer with antlers or anterless, and hunters are encouraged to take only anterless deer.
If the hunter takes two deer before the end of his or her week-long permit expires, the zone will be vacant for the remainder of that week.
Permits are non-transferable. While a hunter may be accompanied by one guest, the guest is not allowed to hunt at any time.
Hunting will be limited from sunrise to noon each day.
Hunters will be required to park in the designated parking lot and walk to their respective zones.
The plan is subject to modification until approved by the Legislature.
One modification, suggested by a person at yesterday's meeting, is that hunters entering the park be required to sign in and sign out when they leave.
Osborn said that idea was well received. It will help ensure hunters safely exit the park.