PHOTO #1: A doe roams Riverside Park. The deer population in Riverside Park has been steadily increasing for years, which puts the deer at high risk for diseases, decreases the amount of food available for wildlife and poses an increased traffic hazard.
The City’s Parks & Recreation is partnering with the Texas Wildlife Association to host the second annual Texas Youth Hunting Program deer and hog hunt Nov. 21-22 in Riverside Park.
Local youth ages 12-17 may apply for the program by creating an account at www.tyhp.org. Up to six participants will be accepted. Parks & Recreation will begin reviewing applications and selecting applicants Nov. 8.
Priority will be given to first-time hunters and those without access to traditional hunting opportunities. Parks & Recreation will help participants obtain their hunting licenses if needed.
The Texas Youth Hunting Program is conducted by the TWA to provide young Texans with safe, educational outdoor experiences. Funding for the program is provided through TWA scholarships and through Parks & Recreation.
The event will begin Monday with lessons on firearm safety and shooting practice. On Tuesday, participants will take part in morning and afternoon hunts, with additional lessons on wildlife conservation and survival skills.
After the hunt, Trinity Oaks, a San Antonio-area nonprofit that arranges hunting and fishing experiences for underserved groups, will teach participants how to process their game. Each participant will get to keep one deer, and Trinity Oaks will donate any additional meat to charity.
All program costs, including lunch, firearms and ammunition, will be provided through Parks & Recreation and TWA funding at no cost to participants.
Riverside Park to close
PHOTO #2: Cautionary signs will be placed around the perimeter of Riverside Park during the youth hunting program.
Riverside Park will close at 3 p.m. Nov. 21 and reopen Nov. 23. Parks & Recreation will barricade roads and walkways leading into the park and will use red caution tape to block surrounding areas. Signs will be placed in the area to alert residents of the closure.
The Children’s Park, Riverside RV Park, The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar, The Texas Zoo and Evergreen Cemetery will remain open.
Participants must demonstrate safety knowledge and firearm proficiency during Monday’s firearm lesson to participate in the hunt Tuesday.
Each participant will be supervised by a guardian and, if the guardian is not an experienced hunter, a TWA hunting guide. The adults will help the participants to ensure that each shot is safe, legal and ethical and does not pose a danger to the area outside the park.
Participants will shoot from blinds in Riverside Golf Course using 20-gauge shotguns and buckshot. Guardians will be responsible for carrying ammunition and providing it to participants. Each participant will only receive one bullet at a time.
Why Riverside Park?
Hosting the hunt in Riverside Park helps to make it available to youth who do not have access to deer leases or similar hunting opportunities. It also helps to address deer and hog overpopulation in the park.
Population control is part of conservation
The deer population in Riverside Park has been steadily increasing for years, which puts the deer at high risk for diseases and decreases the amount of food available for the deer and other wildlife. In addition, a large deer population can be a traffic hazard.
Parks & Recreation Assistant Director Kimberly Zygmant recalled that during last year’s hunt, when Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologists were helping the participants dress their game, they pointed out that the deer were unusually lean, indicating a lack of available food.
Parks & Recreation staff conducted a deer survey and submitted the results to TPWD so they could determine an appropriate amount of deer to harvest to maintain a healthy-sized deer population. Based on TPWD recommendations, participants will be allowed to harvest no more than two does and one buck.
Participants will be allowed to harvest an unlimited number of hogs, which are an invasive species.
For more information about the hunt or other City Parks & Recreation programs, contact Parks & Recreation at 361-485-3200 or email@example.com.