The deer population is low at Muddy Run Park prompting the temporary curtailment of hunting at the park. Shown are a few of the whitetails photographed when the numbers were much higher.Citing low numbers Exelon Corporation has decided to curtail deer hunting at their Muddy Run Park for the next two years.

Near 70 volunteer counters participated in the annual white-tail count on Sunday, Jan. 19, at the park, and following their report it was the decision of the corporation to end the popular hunts afforded to the public for the past several years.

"We covered the bush very well," said Park Manager, Dave Byers. "It was a good count with 22 antlered and 154 antlerless deer reported."

Byers said that for the past three years the numbers are dwindling and that it would be in the best interest of the park to curtail hunting until populations increase. "We can sustain a herd of 400 to 500 deer," said Byers. "I recommended to the corporation that we end the hunts for a two year period until we can get our numbers back up."

Byers said he doesn't have the answer as to why the herd is being depleted, but is concerned. "I used to think it was fawn mortality due to coyotes, but I'm not convinced that's the primary reason," said Byers. "We have had some holes in the fence and it's been reported that numerous deer have been seen exiting the park at one time or another."

In an earlier conversation Byers attributed many of the holes in the fence to so-called sportsmen. Evidence suggests that a lot of the holes were the result of wire cutting.

"I'm also convinced that we've been over-killing our doe with all the tags the Game Commission is issuing," said Byers. 'I think it is taking its toll throughout the county."

Byers is disappointed the park's action is necessary as the handicapped hunts were a popular annual event among those with physical handicaps that made hunting a huge challenge.

There is no indication that the corporation will permanently discontinue the hunts. "As soon as the numbers increase, we'll open it up once again to the public," said Byers. "This is a temporary decision."

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