Monday, February 04, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Upper Makefield Cull Deemed Success

Anne Toohey has seen fewer deer with “ribs showing through.” Adrienne Minassian said fewer deer are munching on her flower and vegetable garden. Police have reported a 65 percent drop in deer/vehicle collisions in 2007 as compared to 2006.

By all accounts, Upper Makefield's season-long controlled deer hunt was a success. About 70 property owners allowed roughly two dozen bow-hunters to thin herds on their land during the harvest, which spanned September to January. The township last year hired Bedminster-based wildlife management company Eccologix to screen and select hunters and to oversee the hunt.

Although officials still are tallying totals, Jody Maddock, Eccologix Wildlife Management director, said, “We're over the 450 mark.” Of the deer killed, Maddock said, roughly 70 percent were female.

“The goal was a triple of last year's harvest. Last year's harvest was 118,” Maddock said. “A triple would be 354.”

At the outset, officials had said about 3,500 deer — or approximately 166 deer per square mile — called the 22-square-mile township home. Seven deer per square mile was identified as a more manageable number in terms of environmental and human safety, Eccologix officials had said.

Getting to that point will take many more years of hunting, officials said.

“I had expected that it was going to be multi-year in order to have some effect,” supervisor Chairman Dan Worden said. “We'll get a report. Based upon that report, we'll decide what we're going to do going forward.”

Maddock said he expects to make a presentation at the March 19 supervisors meeting. He also is readying a survey for participating property owners to complete.

Serge and Adrienne Minassian beat him to the punch. The Eagle Road homeowners of 30 years sent a letter to township officials expressing their approval with the hunt.

Two hunters were assigned to the couple's 6.3-acre property, Adrienne Minassian said, adding that “you don't even know they're there.”

“They're very discreet, very professional,” she said. “We never saw a dead deer.”

What she has seen are fewer herds feasting on her garden and “sauntering across” her lane.

“The deer used to come up to the front steps,” Minassian said. “They would not even be afraid of you.”

Resident Anne Toohey said she wished the hunting season could be extended to continue reducing the population. Maddock said hunters killed about 20 deer on her 5-acre property.

“There's just too many deer. There's a huge problem nationally with the amount of deer,” Toohey said. “We need to be responsible about the deer population.”

To do so, Maddock said, more landowners would have to grant hunters access. With the same properties, he predicts 30 to 40 percent fewer deer would be killed during the upcoming season.

“They've now been to school,” Maddock said of deer. “Where we are there will be less.”

Besides one resident who urged officials to use birth control instead of hunting, the Upper Makefield hunt has received little resistance. A recent sharpshooting in Solebury sparked considerable controversy, and some in Lower Makefield have spoken out against the township's plan for a controlled hunt.


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