CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga - A Georgia park will be closed for a few days to hikers and bikers, and open to hunters. There will be three days of bowhunting at Blankets Creek in Cherokee County to help manage the deer population.
County officials said the deer population has grown dramatically over the years at the 330-acre park. When mountain bikers, runners, and walkers started complaining about aggressive deer, they called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to assess the situation.
Wildlife biologist David Gregory said there is an obvious overabundance of deer.
"When you have too many deer negative impact on vegetation. When you go out there there's no plants on the ground, no understory and that's not good for the ecosystem," said Gregory.
Gregory said it is not healthy for the deer and it's a safety issue for hikers and bikers because the animals are not afraid of people.
"Whenever deer or wildlife become accustomed to people it can be a dangerous situation whether they're physically attacking people or just from a health standpoint," said Gregory.
DNR recommended a managed hunt. Cherokee County agreed and set up three days of bowhunting. The first is on Sunday, December 19. It is for youth and disabled hunters only. The other two days are January 2 and January 9.
Any Cherokee County resident could sign up for a lottery to be part of the hunt. More than 1,200 people signed up. Thirty hunters are chosen for each day. There is a two deer limit.
Officials from DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers will be at the park Sunday morning to help manage the hunt and to make sure no one tries to get on the trails while the hunt is going on.