Island Center Forest will open for deer hunting this Saturday, Oct. 12, though Thursday, Oct. 31, during which time it be closed to all other recreational uses.
While hunting will be allowed on the 200 acres of former state lands that now make up Island Center Forest, the 40-acre Gateway and 81-acre Natural Area properties will be closed to hunting and remain open for other uses.
This is the third year in a row that King County has closed the popular, publicly owned forest, where hunting has historically been allowed, to everyone but hunters.
King County initiated a limited hunt at Island Center Forest in 2011, when more than 60 hunters registered and eight deer were harvested. In 2012, when the county established a five-year pilot project for limited hunts, 38 hunters registered at the trailheads and four deer were harvested.
Last year seven hunters who registered were from Vashon, and most of them were from Pierce County, according to Dave Kimmett, a natural lands manager for the county Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP).
The hunting season coincides with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s designated hunting season in which all firearms can be used, except rifles. The action reduces the state’s established four-month-long hunting season to a 20-day season in Island Center Forest, which is popular for hiking, walking and other recreational uses.
The deer hunt was initially controversial, garnering complaints from some who live in nearby homes as well as some who regularly use the park.
DNRP staff, however, note that the most common complaint from the 2011 and 2012 hunting seasons was the presence of remains from harvested deer along Island Center Forest trails.
Parks staff have installed signs about the hunting season as well as signs that remind hunters to be mindful of how and where they dispose of deer remains. The county will also provide disposal bags for deer remains at trailheads.