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Trap & Kill


Public hunting is the pursuit and killing of wildlife for food or recreation by licensed individuals who are using sanctioned hunting equipment and who are abiding by all applicable State and local laws. There are two primary classifications of public hunting:
1) regulated public hunting and 2) managed public hunting.

Regulated Public Hunting
In regulated public hunting, property is opened to public access during all or part of the deer-hunting season. Participating hunters are subject to Indiana law and regulations. This method of management has the lowest overall operating costs and requires the least amount of oversight and preparation.

Managed Hunting
Managed hunting is a term used to describe the application of regulated hunting in combination with more stringent controls (DeNicola et al. 2000). Managed hunting may limit hunters to specific regions and dates, may require that hunters demonstrate a certain level of proficiency, may require additional permitting and may require shooting from elevated stands, among other requirements. Because managed hunting provides more control and oversight over the activity, most communities that do allow hunting in urban environments do so by developing managed hunting rules. In Indiana, communities may work with the IDNR to develop such rules to further control hunting. Both the City of Warsaw and the Hidden Valley Homeowners Association in Dearborn County have developed such rules.

EFFICACY: Public hunting is the tool most commonly used by State wildlife agencies to manage deer populations. Compared to other lethal management tools, hunting is the most cost effective.

Studies indicate that an actual reduction in the deer herd usually translates into a perceived reduction in the deer herd by the public. Another study suggests that hunting tends to de-acclimate deer to humans, thereby potentially decreasing some forms of deer-human conflict (Kilpatrick and Lima 1999).

One commonly expressed concern is that hunting actually increases the reproductive rates of deer. That is, when deer are culled, there are fewer deer and those who are left will increase their reproduction to compensate for fewer deer. This happens when a deer population moves from exceeding their biological carrying capacity to a situation in which they are below biological carrying capacity -- in other words, if deer go from a denuded landscape to one with abundant forage. Reducing a deer herd that has not reached biological carrying capacity will not enable the remaining deer to go into a "super reproductive" state.

IDNR points out that the real problem with the "rebound effect" occurs when the population comes close to 100% or 110% of biological carrying capacity and reproduction drops to 0.3. The IDNR Deer Research Biologist estimates that deer in Bloomington now are probably reproducing at a 1.5-2.0 rate, and removing deer will not accelerate that rate.

COST: Two costs are at issue: cost to the hunter and cost to administer the program. For hunters, the cost includes cost of a hunting license, any additional fees that may be imposed with a managed hunt, cost for equipment, tools, etc. With general hunting, the administrative costs are borne by the State. With managed hunting, the administrative costs are borne by the community administering the program. While cost may vary considerably from community to community depending on how and what they regulate, a figure of approximately $120-$150/deer is not unreasonable (See, for example, Hygnstrom et al. 2011). A white-tailed deer study in Minnesota that compared four lethal removal methods found that the cost of a managed hunt averaged $117 per deer removed, based on the average net cost per deer after including revenues generated by selling permits to participating hunters (Doerr et al. 2001).

SAFETY: Generally considered safe. No accidents have been reported in Indiana's urban deer zones. According to the IDNR, the majority of archery hunting accidents result from hunter falls from tree stands. This risk can be mitigated by use of safety belts or ropes.

In response to concerns raised by the Task Force concerning safety perception and lowered visibility, the IDNR recommended that the Task Force consider using five contiguous acres in Bloomington's urban situations. In general, the IDNR does not recommend acreage requirements for hunting efforts.

MAINTENANCE: Maintenance is required. Deer spend their life in a defined home range. In urban and suburban environments, the home range is relatively small. Some research on urban deer has shown that when deer are removed from an area, other deer will not abandon their home range to fill that niche (Kilpatrick et al. 2001; McNulty et al. 1997). Yet, over time, young deer searching for their own home range will disperse in random directions, slowly repopulating the area.

HUMANENESS: Many people object to hunting because it involves killing an animal. Even the best-placed shot resulting in instantaneous death may be considered inhumane by someone who believes deer should not be killed. Humaneness may be increased by requiring that hunters demonstrate a certain level of proficiency before being allowed to hunt.


Public hunting, either with selected or unrestricted hunters is the most preferred, economical and practicable method of removing deer, even in urban areas. Even if firearms cannot be used, or are not feasible, archery hunting can be efficiently and safely used to remove deer in urban areas. (IDNR, Human Conflict with White-tailed Deer, 2012)

CITY: The Bloomington Municipal Code §14.20.020 currently prohibits the discharge of firearms within the city limits, with exceptions for police and self-defense. City code does not currently prohibit the discharge of a bow and arrow.

TASK FORCE POSITION: May be a viable option in certain circumstances.


In trap and kill management, deer are lured into a trap or net via bait and killed via captive bolt, firearm or chemical. If dispatched via gunshot, meat is suitable for human consumption. If killed via chemical, meat not suitable for consumption. Deer may be trapped by using drop nets, remote immobilization drugs administered by way of darts or by using Clover traps - collapsible netted cage traps. The use of an accurately delivered gunshot has been determined to be humane euthanasia by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Many techniques involve pre-baiting to attract and condition the animal to the capture site. Traps can be remotely monitored with cameras or checked frequently to ensure quick death after capture. Netting will capture multiple deer at a time, while Clover traps will usually capture one deer at a time. After capture, the deer are dispatched. If dispatched via captive bolt, it is necessary to restrain the deer. When done via gunshot, no restraint is required, although it is sometimes used. Death via tranquilizer is administered by way of remote delivery. It takes 4-6 minutes for the tranquilizer to take effect, during which time the animal may continue to feed and move around. Wildlife professionals have no control over where an animal might move and may need permission of private property owners to retrieve the animal.

EFFICACY: This technique may be suitable in areas where other lethal methods are not safe or suitable. When the animal is trapped, this technique removes concerns about wounded deer traveling about areas of dense human habitation. To be effective, a feeding ban should be in place and enforcement of the ban should be increased when trap and kill management is being implemented.

COST: $100-300/deer plus ongoing maintenance. Capture cost will be lower when: animal densities are high; animals have not been previously trapped; and any deer is the target - not a specific deer, gender or age class.

SAFETY: This technique must be performed by trained specialists and is generally considered safe if properly managed. Pets and other animals may inadvertently be trapped. The use of trap cameras help ensure the quick release of any non-target animal. If the deer is killed via gunshot, the trap must be located near an adequate natural backstop. Not all properties will be suitable for this technique. Owner permission will be required for trap placement on private land. The traps may be subject to vandalism.

MAINTENANCE: Must be on-going.


One study measured blood cortisol (stress) levels in deer killed instantly by rifle shot to the head and compared them to deer that were chemically immobilized and subsequently euthanized with a captive bolt gun. Those deer that were killed after having been chemically immobilized had blood cortisol levels that were about 10 times greater than deer killed by rifle shot, indicating that the immobilized deer had been stressed more prior to being dispatched (Schwartz et al. 1997).


C) Live-trapping and euthanasia will be permitted. Mechanical euthanasia can be substituted for pharmacological agents. The use of captive bolt system or accurately delivered gunshot has been determined to be humane euthanasia by the American Veterinary Medical Association and are approved methods for use on deer under the DFW "Euthanasia for Captive Nuisance Wild Animals" policy. (IDNR, Human Conflict with White-tailed Deer, 2012)


The most humane of the trap and kill option is one wherein deer are acclimated to the site via a period of pre-baiting, where the time between trapping and death is very short and when death is caused by a precise gunshot to the head. Any trap and kill method should minimize stress to deer. If a trap and kill method reveals that deer stress levels are too high, the management program should be abated.


Sharpshooting requires trained personnel to use a variety of techniques to maximize safety, discretion and efficiency. The effort is conducted by trained personnel authorized by the IDNR. Shooting is usually performed from an elevated position to ensure the shot is aimed at the ground and not toward buildings or in the air. A backstop is needed to prevent a bullet from ricocheting into unintended areas. Shooting is usually done at night using artificial light, over bait and using a sound suppression device. Using silencers serves two purposes: it keeps the activity "quiet" and out of range to neighboring residents; it also prevents educating or frightening other deer. Use of sound suppression devices and spotlights to take wild animals is tightly controlled and allowed to be used only by IDNR employees, federal wildlife staff or persons specifically authorized by the IDNR. (I.C. 14-22-6-7 and 14-22-6-11). Deer are shot in the head or neck to ensure a quick death. The use of an accurately delivered gunshot has been determined to be humane euthanasia by the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Performed by trained marksmen, this method is effective to bring about a quick and substantial reduction of the deer herd. The practice requires a natural backstop and is not suitable in many residential areas. To be effective, a feeding ban should be in place and enforcement of the ban should be increased when trap and kill management is being implemented.

COST: $200-$350/deer, depending on method plus ongoing maintenance.

SAFETY: When performed by trained personnel using special equipment, wildlife managers generally consider this method safe. However, some members of the public may express concerns about the discharge of firearms.

MAINTENANCE: In a free-ranging context, this method requires continual upkeep.

Because the technique is administered by trained sharpshooters using high-powered rifles to kill deer over bait, death is instantaneous. Because the technique uses sound suppression devices, deer and other animals in the area are not frightened or stressed. Some people may object to this method because it involves killing an animal.


Sharp shooting is a wildlife management technique used in and adjacent to human populated areas which can be employed to addresses societal issues, such as safety and humaneness, while providing for the efficient removal of deer. Sharp shooting is an intensive method of deer removal by competent marksmen and should not be considered or mistaken for a form of hunting.

a) The landowner, homeowner's association, or government entity must submit a detailed plan for sharp shooting to the District Biologist for approval, which reasonably attempts to resolve the problem on a community wide scale (per IDNR's discretion) for an extended period of time. The plan must include:

1. Introduction - brief history of the conflict and a description of the area, including its location (political township, township, range, and section)or address and size. Describe in detail the extent of damage caused by the deer, attaching any supporting documentation as an appendix. Any additional problems/issues associated with the deer should be described as well.

2. Authority -specifically site your legal authority to act on behalf of those being affected and to conduct such activities on the lands where the sharp shooting will occur.

3. Goal - the long term objectives of the sharp shooting plan

4. Alternatives - a review of other alternatives to sharp shooting including the reasons that these are not viable.

5. Logistics - describe in detail the following:

A. Number of deer to be culled - discuss the number of deer to be removed by sharpshooting and supporting information for the recommendation. (Note: Deer density estimates or counts are not required. Discussion with potential contracted sharpshooters and community involvement will best aid estimated number of deer to remove. Any discussion of age and sex restrictions of the deer to be removed would occur in this section.)

B. Timing - when sharpshooting will be conducted

C. Personnel - who will be conducting the cull and how/why the individuals were selected.

D. Methods - what methods, equipment (ex. Type of firearm), and aids will be used to perform the sharp shooting.

E. Safety Issues - discuss all safety issues and how these issues will be specifically addressed during sharp shooting operations.

F. Utilization plan - describe how the culled deer will be utilized/disposed of.

6. Long Term Management Plan - proposed management techniques to be employed once sharp shooting has been completed to meet the long term objectives of the sharp shooting plan.

7. Public Information Plan - List all efforts that have been undertaken to discuss the problem with affected individuals. List all efforts that will be undertaken to inform affected individuals as the plan is implemented.

8. Lead Contact - list the contact information for the designated individual, including a phone number and email address who affected individuals can contact immediately about any concerns during the sharp shooting operation.

The District Wildlife Biologist will forward the plan to the Deer Biologist for review. They will discuss any further requirements or issues with the applicant before forwarding the plan, plus any accompanying documents, to the Regional Supervisor and District Lieutenant for review, comment and recommendations. Then, all materials will be forwarded to the appropriate Regional Commander and the Private Lands Program Manager, and then to the Chief of Wildlife. A Special Purpose Deer Control Permit will be issued upon final approval from the Fish and Wildlife Director.

b) Upon permit issuance, the permittee must maintain a current, accurate list of the names of approved designated sharp shooters. A copy of the permit must be in the possession of each sharp shooter. The permittee must keep record of all animals taken during the valid permit dates.

c) Within 30 days of the permit expiration, the permittee will submit a final report to the District Biologist which will be forwarded to the Wildlife Section Chief. The report will assist in future decisionmaking processes. The report should document all aspects of the deer removal process, including any public reaction to the deer removal or control.

d) Considerations for Sharp Shooting - Sharp shooting is an intensive method of deer removal by competent marksmen that maximizes safety, humaneness, and efficiency. To accomplish this, the methodology, aids, and equipment used in a sharp shooting plan must be selected with consideration for the specific situation.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following recommendations as general guidance for preparing a sharp shooting plan.
• The IDNR will not conduct or participate in any sharpshooting activities
within any community.

• The definition of sharp shooting requires that the shooters must be competent marksmen so the sharp shooting plan should include a means of evaluating marksmanship proficiency.

• Sharp shooting may be costly and those costs are the responsibility of the permittee.

• There could be inherent risks and unforeseen liabilities when conducting sharp shooting efforts. The total liability and safety of all sharp shooting efforts and its associated activities is the responsibility of the permittee.

• Sharp shooting can be an extremely divisive technique within the community. The applicant should consider the potential ramifications that go along with implementing a sharp shooting program.

• To maximize community acceptance of the sharp shooting operation, human consumption should be the preferred method of disposal of removed deer during the sharp shooting operation.

• Baiting to attract deer to a specific location for removal has been proven to be efficient in sharp shooting situations and may be incorporated into a special permit.

• Conducting sharp shooting efforts in the winter using bait will likely increase the efficiency of the deer removal program.

• The use of elevated stands has proven to be efficient in deer removal and is often necessary in areas with higher human densities for safety issues (people and buildings). Policy C2(b)(2) (IDNR, Human Conflict with White-tailed Deer, 2012).

NOTE: The Bloomington Municipal Code §14.20.020 currently prohibits the discharge of firearms within the city limits, with exceptions for police and self-defense.

Of all the available lethal methods, this is one of the most humane.