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(NASHVILLE, Ind.) — 16 state parks will close for four days to thin the herd of deer.

The Department of Natural Resources holds deer hunts each year in parks where the deer population is starting to get too big. The hunts began in 1993 after DNR realized two decades of unchecked growth was stripping the parks of plant life. State parks spokesman Anthony Sipes says that eliminates some rare plant species, exposes the parks to erosion, and leaves less food and cover for other wildlife.

About 5,300 hunters were chosen by random draw in September, about half the number

who applied. They can bag up to three deer in their assigned park either next Monday and Tuesday,

or the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Sipes says one deer for every five hunters per day is enough to keep a park in balance. DNR naturalists will review the results for each park to decide

which parks need to be part of the program next year.

Last year’s hunt bagged nearly 800 deer in 15 parks.