TWRA biologist fields commission's questions on Enterprise South Nature Park hunts

TWRA biologist fields commission's questions on Enterprise South Nature Park hunts

October 6th, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

A fawn and doe wander along the southern boundary of Enterprise South Nature Park. Officials are planning to allow a regulated number of hunters access to the park during two weekends in October to hunt deer and turkey to comply with a contract the park signed with TWRA.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

WHAT'S NEXT

Commissioners on the Building and Economic Development Committee will consider TWRA's management of Enterprise South Nature Park at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Hamilton County Commission conference room.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency game biologist Ben Layton asked Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday to empty their quiver of questions about two upcoming archery hunts planned for Enterprise South Nature Park.

Layton appeared in the public comment period after Wednesday's commission meeting, saying he came of his own accord after hearing from a resident group opposed to two controlled hunts scheduled for October.

Eighty hunters are expected to descend on the park Monday and Tuesday, and a County Commission committee plans to review the agreement with TWRA that allows the controlled hunts next Wednesday.

Commissioner Warren Mackey asked if the nature park, which is on 2,800 wooded acres, could "support the population without the thinning of that herd."

The land cannot support the current herd "without the deer negligently affecting that habitat," Layton replied. The predominantly wooded nature park produces less food for the deer, which previously had more open space to graze, he said.

The Enterprise South industrial park, home to Volkswagen and other businesses, is on the site of the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plants. TWRA has been holding controlled hunts as necessary on the property since at least 1978.

At Chairman Larry Henry's request, Layton explained that the average yearling doe weight, which can reflect the deer population's health, is down to 72 pounds from 86 pounds.

Commissioner Joe Graham asked how long TWRA had been managing wildlife populations in the state.

Since the agency's inception in the 1940s, Layton said.

"We try to protect and enhance wildlife population across the state," he said.

"So it would be fine to say you all are beyond experts," Graham said.

Layton said that managing the deer population prevents complaints about the wildlife eating shrubbery in residential areas and colliding with cars on roads.

RIVERWALK

Commissioners unanimously approved spending $1.14 million to conduct an engineering study for a three-mile extension of the Riverwalk from Ross's Landing to at least South Broad Street.

Commissioner Warren Mackey supported the extension but voiced concerns about a history of cost-raising change orders by Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon, the firm contracted to complete the study.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said some of those changes came at the county's request.

MAGISTRATES

Before Wednesday's full meeting, the Security and Corrections Committee met to set the hiring process for the county's magistrates, who set bail and sign warrants on nights and weekends. Applications for four positions are due Friday at 4 p.m. The committee will conduct interviews on Oct. 17, and will finalize selections at the Oct. 19 meeting.

The current magistrate contracts expire Oct. 31.