Monday, September 15, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Duke Forest Deer Targeted

When designated hunters begin hunting deer in Duke University's Duke Forest, white deer will be off limits, said the forest's resource manager.

Hunters with bows were able to begin hunting in four of the six forest divisions Monday. But Judson Edeburn, the Duke Forest resource manager, told The News & Observer of Raleigh that the hunters are under instructions not to take any white deer.

Multiple white deer have been sighted around Duke Forest, a 7,000-acre research property in Durham, Orange and Alamance counties. Some hunters say protecting the albino deer allows a recessive trait to continue.

But Edeburn is aware of the role that white animals have in spiritual and historic legends. "The bottom line is the hunters are under instruction not to take the white deer," he said.

WRAL-TV reports that researchers estimate there are as many 80 white-tail deer per square mile in parts of the forests. That's more than four times the recommended number.

"We've made the decision that we need to try to control the deer herd to some extent," Edeburn said.

The deer eat just about everything in their path, affecting not just the habitat for other animals but also regeneration of the forest, officials said.

"The forest is essentially dying, because the deer are overrunning it," Duke researcher Jeff Pippen said.

Four of the forest's six sections - Blackwood, Durham, Eno and Hillsboro - will be open to hunting Monday through Thursday until Dec. 30 to those designated hunters. No public hunting is allowed.

There's also no hunting Friday through Sunday or on holidays.

Although they believe the hunt is necessary, forest officials say they understand some people are upset.

"This has taken years, on our part, and it's a difficult decision, because we know it affects a lot of people. But we've done it with a lot of thought, with a lot of input," Edeburn said.

Source: Myrtle Beach Sun News

No comments: