Friday, March 19, 2010

NEBRASKA NEWS: Antlerless Season Extended in Effort To Reduce Population

Nebraska's deer population has increased about tenfold in the last 40 years. This has brought the usual complaints from farmers and drivers. Now Nebraska is proposing some deer season changes in an effort to reduce the state's deer population size. The key provisions:

Nebraska Game and Parks officials have adopted a new set of regulations designed to help cut Nebraska's plentiful supply of white-tailed deer.

Among others changes approved Friday by the commissioners at their meeting in Lincoln, they expanded the October antlerless season to 10 days from three and increased the hunting area.

Commissioners also lengthened the January antlerless season to 24 days from 15.

If there are enough hunters in the woods and fields and they are supportive of this direction, the policy change will likely be effective in moving the deer population in the desired direction.

Source: Nebraska TV

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NORTH DAKOTA NEWS: Deer Tests Positive for CWD

A sick-looking mule deer taken last fall in western Sioux County of southwestern North Dakota has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials were notified of the diagnosis this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services. It marks the first time CWD has been detected in a North Dakota animal.

Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said a hunter in Unit 3F2 shot an adult buck that did not appear to be healthy.

“As we do with our targeted surveillance efforts, we collected the sample to test for CWD and bovine tuberculosis,” Grove said in a news release.

The Game and Fish Department’s targeted surveillance program is an ongoing, year-round effort that tests animals found dead or sick.

“We have been constantly monitoring and enhancing our surveillance efforts for CWD because of its presence in bordering states and provinces,” said Greg Link, assistant wildlife division chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck.

In addition to targeted surveillance, the department annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. In January, more than 3,000 targeted and hunter-harvested samples were sent to a lab in Minnesota. As of today, about two-thirds of the samples had been tested, with the one positive result. The remaining samples will be tested over the next month.

Link said monitoring efforts have intensified in recent years, and all units have been completed twice throughout the entire state.

“The deer population in Unit 3F2 is above management goals, and hunter pressure will continue to be put on the population in that unit again this fall,” Link said. “We are going to be aggressive with licenses and disease surveillance in that unit.”

Since the department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 14,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD.

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.

Source: Grand Forks Herald

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RESEARCH NEWS: Coyotes Not Decimating Pennsylvania Deer

It’s a question that has captured the imagination of Keystone State deer hunters and wildlife lovers: Has increased predation on helpless deer fawns by an growing population of Eastern coyotes resulted in dwindling whitetail numbers across Pennsylvania’s rugged northern reaches? The answer is no, according to a deer researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“It’s a cruel world out there for wildlife,” said Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology and leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit housed in the college’s School of Forest Resources, “but it’s no crueler in Pennsylvania than other states.”

There is no question the coyote population has grown dramatically in the Northeast in recent decades, he said, and everyone agrees that coyotes do prey on fawns, “but our data tell us that coyote predation is not an issue in Pennsylvania.”

Diefenbach should know. Nationally recognized for his deer research, he has been involved in all the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer studies since 2000, overseeing a groundbreaking fawn-mortality study completed in 2002. For the last decade he and his students have been monitoring hundreds of deer they captured and fitted with radio collars, about 3,000 in total, carefully documenting the animals’ movements, behavior and fates.

“Significantly, very, very few adult deer in our studies have succumbed to predation from coyotes, bears or anything else,” he said. “We now know that in this state, once a deer reaches about 12 months of age, the only significant mortal dangers it faces are getting hit by a car or being harvested by a hunter. By far, most of the time when a coyote eats venison, it is from a road-killed animal, or from a deer that was wounded by a hunter but not retrieved.”

We know fawns often are killed and eaten by coyotes and bears, Diefenbach said, but that has always been the case.

“When we monitored more than 200 radio-collared fawns from 2000 to 2002, the survival rates of fawns in Pennsylvania were similar to what was previously found in Maine, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and New Brunswick, Canada,” he said. “Our research has shown that overall mortality here is not extraordinary.”

About 50 percent of fawns make it to six months of age, Diefenbach said.

“The general pattern in Pennsylvania and in other states and provinces is that we have seen slightly higher fawn survival rates in agricultural areas because there is less predation, and in forested habitats we see slightly lower survival rates.”

According to Diefenbach, the literature shows that fawn survival for the first year of life in forested landscapes is about 25 percent.

“Our work showed that Pennsylvania came in at about 28 percent,” he said. “Our research also showed that fawns in Pennsylvania agricultural landscapes have a 52 percent survival rate.”

Some people have encouraged the Game Commission to implement a study of fawn predation by coyotes, but Diefenbach contends that it is not needed.

“I know this may be an unpopular view, but it is not readily apparent to me how another study on fawn mortality will help us better manage deer,” he said. “Our 2000-to-2002 fawn study showed that fawn-predation rates were normal here, and I don’t have any evidence that anything has changed since then — no available data, such as changes in hunter-success rates in harvesting deer, suggest that coyote predation is increasing. If it is, then hunters should be harvesting fewer young deer, and we are not seeing that.”

Diefenbach points to information contained in recent years’ deer-hunter harvests that show fawn predation is not growing at an alarming rate.

“The fawn component of the hunter harvest — typically about 40 percent of antlerless deer killed by hunters — has remained largely unchanged for many years. If fewer fawns were surviving because of increased coyote predation, they would not be available to hunters.”

Still, Diefenbach understands the emotional reaction of hunters and wildlife lovers to fawns being killed and eaten by predators such as coyotes, and he said that continuing deer research conducted by his unit at Penn State is examining fawn numbers and survival.

“Peoples’ natural reaction to hearing and seeing coyotes, and knowing that they are everywhere in Pennsylvania, is to wonder how many fawns they kill,” he said, “but I don’t know what we would learn if we conducted another fawn-survival study, especially because of what we already know about deer-coyote ecology. I am advising a graduate student right now who is evaluating the assumptions and methods that we use to track and monitor deer-population trends in this state. His research is focused on the validity of the model we use to manage deer. All of his work done so far — both in the field and with computer simulations — doesn’t show any evidence of a decline in deer numbers because we are not recruiting fawns into the population.”

Source: GantDaily

WISCONSIN NEWS: No Urban Hunt for Winona Public Lands

Deer hunting will not be expanded inside the city after a Winona City Council vote Monday night.

Council members voted 4-3 against expanding hunting to publicly owned lands, ending the latest round of debate over a topic that has spurred strong reactions from residents both in favor and against the proposal.

Mayor Jerry Miller and council members Tim Breza, Gerry Krage and George Borzyskowski voted for the motion to deny expanding hunting, while council members Debbie White, Deb Salyards and Al Thurley voted against that motion.

Breza previously advocated for the expansion, but made the motion against it Monday because of the divisions over the issue, he said.

"To go forward with a hunt at this time, I think, is counter-productive," he said, calling it a "lose-lose situation."

Hunting, by bow or shotgun, is already allowed on agriculturally zoned lands in Winona, but an ordinance specifically prohibits the use of bow and arrows on publicly owned lands. That restriction affects conservancy-zoned areas of Winona, including much of the blufflands facing the Mississippi River, and council members have previously discussed lifting that constraint.

Council members heard impassioned pleas from residents on both sides of the issue during a public hearing last month. That public involvement spilled over into Monday night's meeting, with Miller saying he had received one petition in favor of the hunt signed by 67 residents and another citizen presenting a survey he helped conduct in which about 65 percent of respondents were against it.

Several council members spoke in favor of asking city staff to work on an ordinance that would have allowed hunting on city-owned lands.

"Other cities have done this for many, many years," White said. "There is an issue. There is a problem."

But no motion to pursue an ordinance was offered, and the motion denying it passed.

Source: Winona Daily News