CHARLESTOWN, In (WDRB) -- Charlestown State Park is one of 21 Indiana state parks this year hosting deer reduction hunts.

DNR and park officials say the hunts are crucial for ecological reasons.

Indiana has been conducting deer hunts in various parks for the past 20 years to keep the deer population at a manageable level.

There's a strategy behind deciding when and where to have the hunts.

"We have biologists that study these things to determine whether or not to have a reduction," said Lucas Green, Property Manager at Charlestown State Park.

Green says the studies are extensive and they have to do with more than just how many deer are in one area.

"It depends on the impact to the resource," he said.

Resources like trees and other plants that the deer feed on.

"If you go into an area where you have a large population of deer, you'll have a browse line where the deer will eat up to a certain point," Green told WDRB.

Indiana Conservation Officer Bo Spainhour says without hunting, the deer herd would grow rapidly and there wouldn't be enough food to support them, damaging the ecosystem.

"They'll even start to eat the barks off of trees and it's a typical starvation where you'll start to see their ribs. We like to have a healthy number in the state parks so the recreators can enjoy them," said Spainhour.

The hunts happen twice a year.

"We close the park to the general public for two days," said Green.

Hunters apply online and only a certain number qualify.

To ensure safety, hunters have to stay at least 20 acres apart.

"A hunter who comes in will essentially, could have 20 acres to himself. Now, it doesn't always work out that way but from a safety standpoint , that's a safe amount of acreage per hunter," said Green.

Spainhour says they're strict about enforcing the rules to prevent accidents but some still happen.

"We've had several hunting related incidents occur. Typically, it's falls from tree stands. That's the number one hunting incident that occurs in the state of Indiana," said Spainhour.

The hunts are first come first serve.

At last week's hunt, people started lining up the night before just to claim their spots.

"There are certain areas that people want to hunt that others do as well so we just hope and educate people to use a little bit of common sense," Spainhour told WDRB.

The last hunt will happen Monday and Tuesday, November 25 and 26 but they're full.

You can go online to reserve a spot for next year's by clicking here.

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