Saturday, April 15, 2006

MICHIGAN NEWS: The end of a wildflower festival

The Grand Rapids Press

In wooded groves across Michigan, the forest floor each spring transforms into a brilliant carpet of white.

White is the symbol of light, signifying joy and glory. The trillium no doubt inspired joy among Jesuit priests sent to Canada to teach Christianity to the native people.

According to legend, the three white petals were used to teach them about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the little star-shaped green leaves behind the flower were used to explain the miracle of Christ's birth.

Good luck finding one today. White-tailed deer are devouring trillium out of existence in some areas of Michigan. An annual trillium festival at P.J. Hoffmaster Park in Muskegon, launched in 1985, was renamed Spring Blooms in the Dunes last year because few trilliums were left.

There's no festival this May; the deer took care of the wildflowers, too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

SMART-ASS COMMENT: Is the number of hunters really declining?

Sure, the real deer hunting population is aging and recruitment into hunting is dropping. But this ignores the large influx of virtual hunters! Look at the glass more closely--it is half full!

SCS Software today announced that their action hunting game - Deer Drive - will enter digital distribution channels in April. Deer Drive will be made available for PC systems as trialware - a system of 'try before you buy' with online purchasing.

Deer Drive is an exciting stage-based 3D action hunting game, tailored for casual players, but with elements appealing to hardcore gamers. With only a firearm for protection, the player must take stand in an environment full of wild animals - whitetail deer trot and gallop, grizzly and moose charge and attack!

Deer Drive takes the hunting genre back to basics. The essence of hunting gameplay - accurate shooting, has been distilled into a game with emphasis on exciting action with short gaming sessions suitable for all ages - if the player has ten minutes or two hours - Deer Drive is the perfect game to satisfy the hunting urge!

ONTARIO NEWS: Urban deer control needed

Kawartha Lakes, Ontario--City council wants the Province to help control the deer population in the municipality. However, council debated how it wants the Province to do this at its meeting on Tuesday.

Coun. Ric McGee, Ward 2, revived a resolution he brought forward at the community and emergency services committee meeting last week, despite the fact the committee did not pass it.

The resolution provides figures to support the need to control the deer population.

For example, it states there were 287 automobile collisions involving deer in the City of Kawartha Lakes OPP jurisdiction in 2005, accounting for 26 per cent of all collisions.

The resolution requests Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsey be notified of the high deer population and asked to take necessary steps to reduce the number of automobile collisions with deer in the province. It recommends the minister improve publication of provincial policies regarding deer removal and protection of property.

Coun. Dave Marsh, Ward 16, said the resolution needed to be more specific and request an extension of the deer-hunting season by four weeks.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

WISCONSIN NEWS: Support for restricting deer feeding and baiting


WAUSAU, Wis. - Outdoor enthusiasts at annual conservation hearings split on whether the state should outlaw the baiting of whitetail deer, though they strongly supported restricting the practice before and during the fall hunt.

The issue came up in five questions posed to about 5,300 hunters and anglers who attended the annual spring Conservation Congress hearings in all 72 counties Monday night. The state Department of Natural Resources released results of the questions Tuesday.

The change that got the most support -- 62 percent -- was posed by the Natural Resources Board.

The question asked hunters whether they would support legislation to ban deer baiting and feeding across the state 10 days before and during the nine-day deer gun hunt in late November. It also asked whether the board should submit the proposal to the state Legislature for consideration before next fall's hunt.

The vote -- 3,198 yes and 1,977 no -- gets forwarded to the Natural Resources Board.

"I'm very pleased to see that one pass," said HerbertBehnke, the longtime board member who proposed it before his recent retirement. He said legislative opponents of restrictions on the practice are prone to listen to special interests, including feed sellers who have a profit motive.

The vote was closer for a question on whether the state should outlaw deer baiting all the time. The DNR said 2,785 voted yes and 2,233 voted no.

Jim Otto, 50, a deer hunter from Harshaw, said that vote probably broke down along lines of hunters who hunt on public land supporting the ban and hunters who hunt on private land opposing it.

Hunters stalking deer on public land say they don't see as many deer as they used to and blame baiting and feeding on private land for holding the deer there, Otto said. "It is a never-ending debate. I don't expect much will change."

OHIO NEWS: Extended deer season in 2006

Dave Golowenski

Deer and many deer hunters traditionally have faced quiet time between the end of the weeklong gun season in early December and the beginning of the four-day muzzleloader season between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

However, December 2006 will bring, as the Monty Python troupe used to say, something completely different: an additional weekend of the gun season, set for Dec. 16-17.

Proposed by officials from the Ohio Division of Wildlife to increase hunter opportunities at a time when the state is teeming with deer, the extra Saturday-Sunday hunt was approved last week by the Ohio Wildlife Council.

The regular gun season will run Nov. 27 through Dec. 3; the statewide muzzleloader season Dec. 27-30.

Bowhunters get a few extra days in the 2006 package as well. The archery deer season kicks off a half-hour before sunrise Sept. 30 and ends a half-hour after sunset Feb. 4.

Deer hunters tagged 209,513 whitetails during the 2005-06 hunt — the second-highest harvest recorded and down only about 3 percent from the record kill of 216,443 tallied a year earlier.

During those last two deer campaigns, the youth-only deer gun seasons contributed significantly to the end-of-season totals. In 2006, youth again will be served with a weekend hunt Nov. 18-19.

The early muzzleloader season — open only to those holding special permits for Salt Fork, Shawnee or Wildcat Hollow — will be held Oct. 23-28.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WISCONSIN NEWS: Deer hunt on UW-Green Bay campus

According to WBAY-TV, a special deer hunt is planned for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus. The chancellor said the hunt was needed because of the growing deer population on the campus. There were concerns about car-deer collisions, an elevated risk of disease like Lyme Disease, and other problems.

The archers are part of the Green Bay/Brown County deer control program that began in 2003. All have passed archery proficiency tests and have been approved by the university. Archers will hunt from stands at least 100 yards from trails.

Editors note: Gary Fewless must be pleased.

LOUISIANA NEWS: No bonus tags this year

The AP reports that a bill that would have allowed hunters to buy bonus tags to kill more deer was defeated today by the House.

The measure would let hunters purchase bonus doe tags for $20 dollars, and buck tags were $5 more. Hunters would be limited to three bonus tags per year. The measure fell 52-31.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: New statewide urban/suburban deer management plan released

State releases its first-ever urban/suburban deer plan

New tools could help control whitetails in populated areas.
By Christian Berg
Of The Allentown Morning Call

Responding to a growing public outcry over deer-vehicle collisions, Lyme disease and damaged crops and landscaping , the Pennsylvania Game Commission has released its first-ever plan to manage whitetails in urban and suburban areas.

A draft version of the plan, posted Monday on the agency's Web site, includes a wide range of new tools designed to control burgeoning deer populations in Pennsylvania's most populous communities. Among them are more liberal hunting regulations, longer hunting seasons and non-traditional methods such as professional sharpshooters, deer feeding bans and deer-management training seminars for mayors, police chiefs and other local officials.

''It's no secret why there is great difficulty managing urban/suburban deer populations,'' said Jeannine Tardiff, a commission deer biologist and the plan's author. ''A deer population inaccessible to hunters can quickly exceed the tolerance level of those in the community. The safety issues can become serious, and property damage severe.

''We believe the…plan provides a starting point from which the Game Commission can develop and implement a program that will help hunters, landowners and municipal officials achieve mutually acceptable goals of increasing hunting opportunities and greater control of the deer population in highly developed areas of the state.''

Overabundant deer are a growing problem in many urban and suburban areas across Pennsylvania, including portions of the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia suburbs and Poconos.

Large numbers of deer living in close proximity to large numbers of people has put Pennsylvania among the national leaders in the number of deer-related automobile accidents and new cases of Lyme disease, which is carried by deer ticks.

Last year, auto insurer State Farm released the results of a survey that ranked Pennsylvania No. 1 in the nation for deer-vehicle collisions. And statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pennsylvania indicate Pennsylvania has the second-highest Lyme disease infection rate in the nation.

Suburban deer have also proved a bane to farmers, nursery owners and landscapers. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau estimates that deer may cause upward of $90 million in agricultural damage annually.

''Some of our members are on the verge of going out of business, because they can't sustain the losses,'' said Chad Forcey, government relations director for the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, which last week reported nurseries lose an average of $20,000 a year due to deer damage and deer control efforts.

Although the urban/suburban deer plan includes a range of hunting and non-hunting control options, the 11-page document makes it clear that hunting is the commission's preferred deer control tool.

''Where safe and appropriate, [hunting] will be used to manage deer populations in developed areas,'' the plan states. ''The Game Commission will support and encourage hunting as a means of managing deer populations by annually making hunting opportunities available, increasing hunting opportunities in developed areas and providing deer hunters with tools to increase their success.''

The commission has already expanded urban and suburban deer hunting opportunities in recent years by holding special antlerless deer seasons in the state's most populated regions — including parts of the Lehigh Valley — and offering generous allocations of antlerless deer licenses for those areas.

Now, the agency will consider extending hunting hours in populated areas and conducting an experimental baiting project to determine whether baiting can be used as an effective means to increase the deer harvest in selected areas.

Other hunting-related recommendations include:

Expanding the Deer Management Assistance Program to allow municipalities and other defined entities, such as community associations, to enroll. DMAP is a program that allocates additional antlerless deer licenses that can only be used on specific properties where deer damage is a problem.

Creating an Urban Deer Control Program that would allow hunters to kill deer outside regular hunting seasons, similar to what farmers are permitted to do now under the Red Tag program.

Developing a planning program to help communities organize and implement controlled hunts that direct a limited number of hunters into a defined area where deer numbers are too high.

Developing an urban deer-hunting guide to inform deer hunters about opportunities available in urban/suburban areas.

Developing an advanced deer-hunter education course for hunters who want to hunt in developed areas. Records of those who successfully complete the course could then be made available to private landowners and municipal officials who want to recruit hunters to remove deer in their area.

Ted Onufrak, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, said he is generally pleased with the plan and supports its hunting-oriented focus.

WISCONSIN NEWS: Hunters reject political meddling in deer management

(Ed. note--I was really glad to see Gunderson get spanked here.)

By Ed Culhane
Appleton Post-Crescent staff writer

KAUKAUNA — Hunters and other sportsmen voted statewide Monday on state Rep. Scott Gunderson's proposal to bypass the normal rules process and set deer seasons by statute.

The question appeared as a submitted floor resolution in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties during the annual spring fish and game rules hearings and annual county meetings of the Conservation Congress. Gunderson, R-Waterford, had forwarded the resolution to every county.

Ballots at the county hearings will be tabulated electronically and the results released Wednesday afternoon, state officials said.

Representatives of the Outagamie County delegation to the Conservation Congress predicted Gunderson's resolution would be soundly defeated.

"I think there's going to be backlash on it because they (hunters) don't want legislators doing game management," Dennis Neuman of Seymour, a county delegate, said after the meeting.

Ralph Fritsch of Kaukauna urged his fellow hunters to send a message to Madison.

"This is not a resolution," said Fritsch. "This is Assembly Bill 1129. If that bill passes, this will take precedence as the first time legislators have dictated to hunters what their deer seasons will be. Vote 'no' and tell Gunderson to stick this thing where the sun doesn't shine."

Two hunters spoke against the resolution at the Outagamie County meeting. Don Rogalski of Bear Creek, a member of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, introduced his own resolution calling for the restoration of deer hunting seasons previously set by the state Natural Resources Board.

Those seasons offered hunters a two-year moratorium on the unpopular early Zone T gun hunts — four-day, antlerless-deer-only gun hunts in October in areas of the state with too many deer — in favor of expanded Zone T gun hunts in December. Hunters have complained for years that the October gun hunt disrupts the early bow season and changes deer movements before the traditional nine-day November gun season.

But the rule was suspended by the Natural Resources committees of the state Assembly and Senate, based on an objection by the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs, a group that objects to gun hunts north of State Highway 8 during the second week of December. The joint Committee on the Review of Rules and Regulations will hold a public hearing on the issue April 18.

Gunderson then submitted a deer season structure in the form of a state statute. It eliminates October Zone T hunts statewide, forbids late season Zone T hunts north of State 8 and creates a new 4-day muzzleloader hunt in October. Most statewide hunting and conservation clubs have taken positions against Gunderson's bill, including the Wisconsin Muzzleloader Association.

No one spoke in favor of Gunderson's bill.

The meetings take place simultaneously in every county, giving sportsmen the opportunity to vote on proposed changes to fishing, hunting and trapping seasons and to weigh in on Conservation Congress resolutions that will be considered by that group's study committees.

The Outagamie County meeting went quickly, with little or no discussion on most of the more than 75 questions on the ballots. Even the perpetually divisive issue of whether the practices of deer baiting and deer feeding should be partially or completely banned drew no testimony.

The question of creating a deer season in High Cliff State Park did spark commentary.

Jeff Samida of Sherwood said that despite public meetings at which neighbors of the park expressed concerns about the proposed gun hunt, none of their ideas appear in the proposal.

"We've had quite a few suggestions," Samida said. "It doesn't seem like it's changed one iota."

When it was pointed out that hunting takes place safely in other state parks, Cheryl Dewing of Sherwood objected, saying High Cliff was different.

"They don't have the proximity to homes that we do," Dewing said. "That's why we object. It's a safety issue."

Others at the meeting named parks in urban areas with hunting, but the Sherwood residents were not appeased.

"This is not a hunting area, this is an urban park," said Mary Pat Thomson.

Ed Culhane can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 216, or by e-mail at

Monday, April 10, 2006

PENNSYLVANIA PERSPECTIVES: Too many or too few deer?

from - Chambersburg PA

Hunters: There are fewer deer in area woods

We recently asked hunters who read Public Opinion whether they're seeing fewer deer in the woods. Yes, they are! We heard from so many hunters that we'll be publishing more comments later in the week.

They shared their thoughts on why there are fewer deer and offered suggestions for making hunting more enjoyable.

Despite fewer deer, I enjoy hunting

George Naugle, St. Thomas: There is no question there are fewer deer in the places I hunt. It is also not rocket science why the numbers are down. One needs only to look at the harvest figures published by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for the years from 2000 through 2004 to find out why.

In 2000, we harvested 504,600 deer in Pennsylvania. This was followed by a harvest of 486,014 in 2001, 517,529 in 2002, 464,890 in 2003 and another 409,320 in 2004.
This is a tremendous number of deer. We hunters were also being encouraged to take mature does and to avoid taking button bucks during those years. Mature does give birth to twin fawns, occasionally triplets. Taking them out of the herd reduces the number of fawns being born at the same time it reduces the overall herd. In my opinion, this was necessary to bring a ratio of does to bucks more in line with what it should be.

While the number of deer I am seeing has been reduced, I will not agree that the population is "unhuntable." During the past year while hunting exclusively on state gamelands, I saw less than 30 deer during the two-week rifle season. That is still enough for me to take as many deer as I had tags for, one of which was a nice, fat, eight-point buck. I hunted 10 out of the 12 days of the 2005 rifle season. ...

I enjoy every minute of my hunting, whether I am seeing deer or not. It sure beats work. Getting out in the woods for a few days or hours is its own reward to me. I think that if you absolutely must take a deer in order to have had fun, you are missing the point of hunting. It is not the same as shopping. Actually with the lower populations of deer, hunting is more rewarding than it used to be.

Have we reduced the population enough? If the goal was to bring the doe-to-buck ratio more in line, I think we did. Of the 30 or so deer I saw last rifle season, eight were bucks and six would have been legal to shoot. I have hunted many years out of my 52 years of hunting (I am 64) in which I saw a hundred or more deer and not one legal buck. In this sense, hunting is better than it ever has been, and I find myself in agreement with the (April 3) article written by Ben Moyer and Bryon Shissler.

We hunters do have to adjust our expectations and hunt smarter. I would prefer to see one nice rack buck any day rather than 20 does and fawns, but that is the type of hunter I am. I am also seeing signs of the damage that was done by too many deer for too many years being repaired. There used to be a browse line in the woods I hunt. Browse is the primary food deer eat during the winter months. The browse line is disappearing, and I see underbrush and sprout growth where I haven't seen such in years.

I believe we need to keep populations low for a few more years but not reduce them any more than we have. When we have healthy forests, we can allow more deer to inhabit them.

There are those who will state that they hunted hard and saw no deer this past season. As I said previously, I hunted 10 out of the 12 days during rifle season. I saw four other hunters in the woods during all of that time. Again, I hunt exclusively on state game lands. Where are they all hunting? Here is a hint for them. I had to drag the deer I killed half a mile or more to get them back to my cabin. Since I hunt high on the mountain, it is mostly downhill. You can't get there without walking some.

Hunters kill too many female deer

Larry Highlands, Shippensburg: In recent years I have noticed fewer deer in the field. I think the reason is because of the doe license allocations and the bonus license. When you kill a doe you are killing two or maybe three deer.
To me, after many years of hunting, I always find it enjoyable. I think there needs to be some compromise between hunters and officials. I certainly hope each side uses some common sense.

Last year was worst hunting year ever

Todd Shuman, Newburg: I've been hunting in Pennsylvania for 23 years, and the 2005 deer season was the worst season for seeing deer or signs of deer.
I hunted the entire first week from our cabin in Franklin County, in the pouring rain, fog, wind, etc. I did not see a deer until the first Saturday.

I am also an avid archery hunter. During the entire month and half of archery, I saw four different bucks and only one was legal to take.

My opinion is the slaughtering of the doe and button bucks is the main reason for the drastic reduction in deer in the 4B management unit, and statewide. The Pennsylvania Game Commission divided the state into different management units, but are still hunting the state with the same rules and regulations state-wide.

Each unit should be looked upon as such. Our deer per hunter ratio in 4B cannot compare to the areas surrounding Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. So why do we hunt by the same set of rules? If the state passes the license increase this year, it will be crippling to the PGC. I for one will be hunting out of state.

Many hunters are frustrated in Pa.

Chuck Bowers, Shippensburg: I see fewer deer since the Pennsylvania Game Commission started harvesting does in the past three years, starting in archery season up to the late muzzle-loader season.
I was heading back to my truck at 1 p.m. the first day of buck season. I was sitting in the rain not seeing any deer, hardly any shooting, if any. I just couldn't take it any more.

I hunt on the Upper Strasburg Mountain on state game land. I always got something in the area I hunt. Not this year; I got zip. Now the Game Commission is going to increase the hunting license fee and, to top it off, I understand there will be a $20 fee for hunting, hiking, picnicking or anything else you might do on state land.

I heard some guys say they won't pay all that money for a hunting license or a fee to step on state game land. They'll just hunt without one. People are really upset over hearing all this. ...

... Why don't they bring it back the way it was? To get it back the way it was they would have to stop killing does for a year or two.

I've been to the Sportsman's Show in Harrisburg, telling the Game Commission there what I think of their hunting regulations. They don't want to hear it. Now I will say, from what I understand, there are a lot of deer around the Pittsburgh area and Philadelphia areas. All I know is that there are hardly any deer around here.

A lot of guys are getting into coyote hunting. I believe there's more of them than deer. I killed one two years ago. ... They are really smart animals. I also saw a mountain lion about eight years ago. Yes, a mountain lion.

Spring turkey hunting starts the end of April. Other surrounding states bring it in earlier. By the time the season gets here the turkeys are call-shy. That's from people out now calling them and hunting them. Where is the Game Commission now?

If they want to make some extra money, they should get in the woods now and listen to the gunshots in the mountain, because there is outlaw killing going on as we speak.

I think I'm going to do like a lot of other guys are doing and start hunting out of state.

Hunter disagrees with commission

Walter Sheely: Chambersburg: There are fewer deer. What would you expect when hunters are allowed to kill doe during the two weeks of buck season? The Game Commission has caved in to the insurance companies to reduce the deer herds. Now it (the commission) is complaining about the decrease in the sale of hunting licenses. Its answer is to increase the fee for hunting licenses.
It ... is going to take many more years to win back the hunters and the future hunters that (the commission) lost. Deer hunting is the main reason many hunters buy hunting licenses.

Consider changing hunting methods

Randy Wilson, Fayetteville: I enjoyed reading the "Hunters should alter their expectations" article on April 3 and agreed with several points.
It is probably easy for me to do so because of the deer hunting experience I gained while growing up in St. Lawrence County, New York, just south of the New York/Canada border.

During the two years I deer hunted, before joining the military and moving away, I recall hunting with my Dad all day just to find a single fresh deer track in the snow. Stillhunting and putting on drives was the common method of hunting at that time. Fast forward about 13 years and the deer population skyrocketed in the same location. Once that happened, my dad and I (when I went home on leave) would more often sit on stands and wait for the deer to come to us.

However, we continued to stillhunt some, primarily so I could learn more about the 40,000 acres of woods that my Dad has been hunting since he was old enough to do so. During the last couple of years we hunted together, we have gone more to the stillhunting method, and less hunting on stands, because the deer aren't as plentiful now.

How does all that relate to Pennsylvania? I moved to Fayetteville in July 2004 and have enjoyed two deer seasons here. While I wasn't able to spend as much time in the woods as I would like, I did enjoy success during both seasons through a combination of stillhunting and sitting on a stand.

I can't say how the present deer numbers compare to those in the past, but I can say that on many of the days, I did see deer.

Of the deer I saw, I could have shot a few of them. For me, the enjoyment is trying to match wits with the deer while learning about Michaux State Forest. To be successful, I changed my hunting habits along the way. If the stand hunting wasn't working, I tried the stillhunting. If the stillhunting wasn't working, I tried the stand hunting. We need to alter our expectations as well as our hunting methods to be successful.

Originally published April 10, 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

DELAWARE NEWS: Crop damage fuels conflict

By Rachel Swick, Cape Gazette staff

Deer who feed on crops cost Delaware farmers millions, and they say state officials have not done enough to correct the problems.

Members of Farmers Against Infringement of Rights (FAIR) said programs promoted by Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) do not go far enough to help farmers deal with trespassing deer. FAIR is calling for state legislators to pass new legislation allowing farmers to shoot deer on their property year round.

Joseph Robert of the Neuberger Firm, a Wilmington-based law firm representing 26 farmers from Delaware, said DNREC officials do not provide enough support for the farmers. He said farmers in this state have lost in the millions of dollars to trespassing deer that eat crops during spring months, when farmers cannot shoot them.

“FAIR’s problems will not be solved by DNREC,” said Robert, in a brief statement last week. “There is proposed legislation making the rounds that we understand will be introduced soon.”

FAIR attorney Thomas Neuberger was unavailable for comment.

But not everyone agrees that FAIR’s actions of lobbying for legislation are the way to go.

Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse said if the state allowed farmers to shoot deer year round it would not only be hazardous to the health of Delawareans, but it would be hazardous to the deer season.

“If farmers are allowed to shoot deer year round, it will do more harm than good,” said Scuse. “It will make deer hunting more difficult during the season. Deer are fairly intelligent. They can pattern hunters, and hunting whenever will change their habits, making it more difficult to take deer during the season because they will be used to avoiding hunters.”

To prevent crop damage by deer, Scuse said farmers can enroll in two DNREC programs that were recently recognized and honored by the Delaware Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association.

Division of Soil and Water Conservation Director Robert Baldwin said his division won the award for providing important funds to Delaware landowners that will minimize crop damage by deer.

“The program includes $70,000 in cost-share funds for landowners who participate in the Delaware deer damage assistance program,” said Baldwin. It was developed by DNREC in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and includes a vegetative habitat buffer program and the contact repellent program.

The first program helps farmers plant “trap crops,” including a clover mixture, around the borders of their fields to lure deer away from farm crops, Scuse said.

The second provides funding for spray repellant, which is used around fields that are bordered by forests to help deter deer from eating crops.

“Farmers can enroll in DNREC programs to get permits to use during hunting season,” said Scuse. “They can get an unlimited supply of permits. Now, every hunting tag comes with four antlerless doe tags.”

But, Neuberger said farmers have written to DNREC in the past to request additional hunting permits that were not approved and farmers’ requests were frequently turned down.

“Farmers face enough economic difficulty without the deer. If they go bankrupt and they must sell to developers, Sussex County will become more and more congested,” said Neuberger in a letter to Attorney General Carl Danberg, asking that farmers not be prosecuted for shooting deer out of season. “Development of the farmlands also will threaten the rivers and marshes and all Delawareans will feel the loss.”

Danberg said he could not provide legal advice to private citizens. The Attorney General’s office is responsible for providing information to state agencies, not to the public, he said. “The Delaware Department of Justice cannot grant blanket immunity for violations of Delaware’s hunting laws,” said Danberg in a letter to Neuberger.

Neuberger replied in a press release on March 24, “This will be a hot election issue all over the state…AG Danberg has failed in his duty to Delaware citizens.”

Scuse said the best solution for farmers is to get hunters onto their fields during the season. If the deer are getting shot at on the property, they are more likely to move away and not harm the farmer’s crops in the spring, he said.

“Farmers should use the available programs because when properly used it will help take care of the problem in time,” said Scuse. “Many hunters only want to take bucks, but farmers have to put hunters out there to get antlerless deer. That’s what it takes to solve the problem.”

Scuse said FAIR farmers are looking for a compensation program through legislation. But if the state starts compensating the farmer for lost crops, he said, then many other groups will form looking for compensation as well.

Scuse said the deer problem is difficult. “But compensation is not the answer.”

Burt Messick, president of the Sussex County Farm Bureau, said the deer are a big problem for farmers. He said his organization supports FAIR and is helping to get legislation passed.

“The deer eat our crops during the growing season,” said Messick. “Some farmers lose 10 to 20 percent of their crops to deer.”

Messick said he doesn’t see it as a safety problem because farmers will only be shooting deer on their own properties. He said they know where the neighbors and roads are and would be responsible not to shoot near those areas.

Legislation was introduced last week and a public hearing on the deer issue has been scheduled in Dover at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 5 in Legislative Hall. For more information about these programs, call DNREC at 302-653-2883.

PENNSYLVANIA DEER POLITICS: How many antlerless tags for 2006?

Ben Moyer, Pittsburgh Gazette

On April 17 and 18 the Pennsylvania Game Commission will meet to finalize hunting seasons and bag limits for the 2006-07 hunting year. Its agenda covers small game, wild turkey, bear, elk and fur bearers but the Commission's decisions regarding white-tailed deer will attract the greatest attention.

Under scrutiny by some interests who want more deer and others who want fewer, the Commission will decide the schedule of deer seasons and the number of antlerless deer licenses it will issue.

This meeting finds the Board of Game Commissioners in a position of conflict. After decades of encouraging high deer populations, a majority of the current board members have directed a recent effort to reduce deer to ease damage to forests and farms. Many hunters, though, disapprove and are asking the Commission to let the herds rebound. The agency is in financial crisis and needs an increase in hunting license fees to remain in operation.

Numerous legislators have stated they will block such an increase unless the Commission accommodates dissatisfied hunter demands.

The intensity of pressure on commissioners is evident in two separate hearings convened by legislators over recent weeks. In late March, Representatives Dan Surra (Elk County), Ed Staback (Luzerne), James Shaner (Fayette) and Mike Hanna (Clinton) held a hearing at a DuBois fire hall where most speakers expressed their dismay with recent Game Commission policies they say have reduced the herds.

Reporting on the DuBois hearing, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette quoted Ray Werts, president of the Western Clinton County Sportsmen Association. "As hunters grow up without seeing many deer, it is a disappointment to them. People tell me they saw lots of bear and bear tracks, but the deer [last hunting season] were pitiful," Werts said.

Werts recommended cuts in antlerless license allocations in Wildlife Management Unit 2G, dominated by State Forests in northcentral Pennsylvania.

The Sun-Gazette reported that Bob's Army and Navy Store owner Robert Grimminger testified, "With the shape the deer herd is in, we might as well go hunt in Nebraska ... We have to do something to accommodate Pennsylvania deer hunters."

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee heard testimony in Harrisburg from farm, environmental and forestry groups that want the Game Commission to continue its current policies and provide private landowners and communities with additional options for managing deer.

"Farmers in general are concerned that some constituencies are pursuing policy that would again increase the deer population and those policies would be harmful to most of the stakeholders represented here today. We are truly at a crossroads," said Craig Sweager representing the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Tim Schaeffer, executive director of Audubon Pennsylvania said damage caused by over-abundant deer is not confined to farms and that the state's public forests, such as those in Wildlife Management Unit 2G are at high risk. "The abundance of native wildflowers and other forest-floor plants has been greatly diminished, shrub species have been dramatically decreased or eliminated, and the variety of tree species has declined. Birds and other wildlife that depend on forest vegetation have also been affected," he said.

Gregg Robertson, president of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association told the committee his organization's members spend an average of $20,000 every year to control deer damage and that some nursery businesses could not absorb the loss.

Observers of the Game Commission expect hunter concessions to win approval at the meeting, including fewer antlerless tags and, possibly, abandonment of the concurrent two-week season for antlered and antlerless deer in some regions.

The votes could reveal whether the current board of commissioners views the primary responsibility of the Pennsylvania Game Commission as one of providing acceptable outdoor recreation to its financial supporters, or, alternatively, managing the wildlife resources of a diverse Commonwealth.

NORTH DAKOTA NEWS: Record Kill in 2005

(AP) _ The state Game and Fish department says last year's deer hunting season was the best ever for hunters.

The agency issued a record number of licenses last year and that led to a record harvest.

Wildlife chief Randy Kreil says he 145-thousand-600 deer gun licenses were issued last year. And nearly 99-thousand-600 deer were taken by hunters with guns.

He says the total harvest was more than 100-thousand deer when combined with bow, muzzle-loader and youth seasons.

Kreil says the overall hunter success rate last year was 76 percent last year. That's about two percent higher than in 2004.

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Record Kill in 2005

By Dan Kibler

Hunters in North Carolina killed a record number of deer last season, according to statistics released last week by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The 2005-2006 reported kill was 144,315, which broke the record of 142,617 set in 2001-2002, and it was an increase of almost 3 percent over 2004-2005.

Evin Stanford, a biologist who is the deer project leader for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said that increases in the Northern Piedmont and western third of the state - including Northwest North Carolina - pushed the kill to a record level.

"It didn't really take a big increase to get us (a record kill)," Stanford said. "The harvest in the eastern part of the state and in the Southern Piedmont was about the same, and we had good increases in the rest of the state."

Hunters in the 11 counties in Northwest North Carolina that make up wildlife District 7 reported killing 19,137 deer last season, a 5.5-percent increase over 2004-2005. The increase was 6.1 percent in the Northern Piedmont, 7.7 percent in the western foo

thills and 9.6 percent in the extreme western mountains.

Top counties in overall kill statewide didn't change a great deal, with the Roanoke River counties of Northampton, Halifax and Bertie finishing first through third with reported kills of 5,838, 4,721 and 4,322 deer, respectively. Wilkes County, the top area in Northwest North Carolina, was fourth overall at 4,249, and Pender County rounded out the top five with 3,379 deer taken.

In Northwest North Carolina, Alleghany, Ashe, Iredell and Stokes counties followed Wilkes in the overall standings. In terms of the kill per square mile, Alleghany County was tops in the state with 6.97 antlered bucks taken per square mile of habitat.

Stanford was a bit surprised that the reported deer kill increased the way it did in the western third of the state. Normally, kill figures show marked increases in years when there is a decrease in hard mast production (acorns, hickory nuts, etc.), which forces deer to travel longer distances to feed and increases their chances of walking within range of a hunter.

"We had a fairly good mast crop last year," Stanford said. "I think we're just seeing hunters killing more deer in areas where the herd continues to expand."

• Dan Kibler can be reached at 727-7383 or

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Annual Crop Damage at $75 Million

Solanco Area Online News

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania farmers continue to pay a high price to repair damage caused by deer. State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff told the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee that bill is $75 million.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has increased deer management efforts during the last five years to protect agriculture – the commonwealth’s number one, $4.9 billion industry – but deer are still leaving their mark, he said.

“Despite the Game Commission’s commendable efforts,” said Wolff, “deer continue to eat into farm profits and cause many farmers to substantially alter their farm operations in order to grow crops and commodities.”

Currently, Pennsylvania’s only effective deer management tool is hunting. However, due to increased suburbanization and development, specifically in southeast and south central Pennsylvania, safety zones and shotgun-only hunting areas have increased dramatically, limiting the effectiveness of hunting as a management tool for deer control.

The Game Commission offers a variety of management programs, including the Deer Management Assistance Program, to help farmers micromanage deer on their farms. Matched with the Commission’s fencing and public access programs, participating farmers have seen a decline in financial losses over the past several years.

Wolff highlighted several direct losses due to deer damage:

A study by Penn State University pegged deer damage to agricultural crops at $75 million.

A Pennsylvania Farm Bureau study in the late 90’s indicated an average crop loss per farm at $9,000.

Forest productivity losses were estimated at $73 million annually on that portion of the forest that is actively managed.

The Pennsylvania Forest Products Association estimates as much as $18 million lost to taxpayers in deferred and lost timber stumpage sales on state lands.

Cost to landowners and business people associated with damage at nurseries and suburban landscaping has become one of the most important issues for the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association.

$78 million annual costs associated with 39,000 dear/car collisions in Pennsylvania.

Public health costs associated with Lyme disease and other deer related concerns.

For more information on the Game Commission’s deer management programs, visit (click on ‘Deer Management Programs’ and ‘Agriculture Deer Control’).

A transcript of Secretary Wolff’s testimony is available at (click on “Deer Damage Testimony”).

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Culling Plan Controversy

Cherry Hill Courier-Post Staff


Township residents upset by a potential deer hunt on 180 acres of fields and woodland around Springdale Farms organized a protest for today.

They'll gather at Kresson and Springdale roads in front of the woods where a hunt is proposed so motorists can see how close it would be, said animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz, one of the organizers.

"We're trying to rally the people of this town . . . about what's going on," he said.

The protest comes before township council's Monday vote on an ordinance to allow depredation deer hunts to occur in Cherry Hill, which currently bans all hunting. The state Division of Fish and Wildlife issues permits for these restrictive hunts, which usually happen in the summer, only when there's evidence deer are damaging crops.

The measure would let Springdale Farms, the township's only commercial farmer, apply for a depredation hunt permit, said Mayor Bernie Platt, who noted the township can't apply for such permits.

Last year, deer destroyed between 40 and 100 percent of the Springdale Road farm's crops, said John Ebert, who co-owns it with his sister Mary Ann Jarvis and her husband, Tom.

Ebert said the family prefers deer fences over deer hunts, which he called a "public relations nightmare." Platt confirmed the farm got a township permit Monday for a deer fence on two sides of the 60 acres it owns. The township, which by deed maintains the fence on the other two sides, agreed Wednesday to replace it with a deer fence. Also, the farm will soon reapply to the township for a fence around the 40 acres it leases from the township.

"A depredation hunt would be a last resort," Ebert said.

The protesters worry a hunt is too risky in a suburban area. They say deer population estimates -- between 700 and 1,000 -- are exaggerated and believe a hunt would wipe out the herd.

"They shouldn't rush to pass this ordinance," said Robert Gloeser, whose Kresson Road home abuts the proposed hunt's area.

He said the township should commission a count of the herd. He's also concerned 450 feet around buildings and roads isn't enough of a buffer and thinks insured sharpshooters should be used rather than the retired police officers the township proposes.

Councilwoman Joyce Kurzweil said she respected people's rights to express their opinions, but noted "as an elected official, I have to look at the long-term solution and culling the deer population is part of that solution."

"Wildlife in suburban and even urban communities is becoming a challenge all over the country," she said. "What we have to do is be good stewards of the wildlife in our communities and that means looking at a comprehensive approach."

Reach Lisa Grzyboski at (856) 251-3345 or

NEW YORK NEWS: Antler Restrictions Controversial


The debate over deer-hunting antler restrictions is so fractious that the New York State Conservation Council has decided to play pollster on the issue.

Hunters throughout the state are being invited to fill out a two-page survey on deer management, with several questions directly related to minimum antler criteria. According to council President Harold L. Palmer, the organization has no intention of taking a stand on the issue, but is merely doing a little research to learn what its constituents are thinking.

In this case, neutrality is probably the best policy.

An umbrella organization which lobbies in Albany on behalf of an estimated 300,000 rod and gun club members, the Conservation Council generally tries to build a consensus from the grass roots up before it takes sides on contentious issues.

Antler restrictions, for the uninitiated, are any rules which prohibit hunters from killing a deer whose rack falls shy of a specified minimum standard, such as a certain number of points or a beam-to-beam spread that is wider than the gap between the tips of the ears.

The concept has gained a foothold in the Northeast in the past decade or so, first among hunting clubs and landowner associations and more recently in clusters of state-designated wildlife management units.

Last year, a minimum three points-on-one-beam rule took effect in two Ulster County WMUs, 3C and 3J; and units 3H and 3K in Sullivan County are expected to go the same route this fall.

Meanwhile, an ad hoc group of landowners and hunters in Central New York is trying to gain support for a minimum antler-width rule in WMUs 7F, 7J and 7H, here in the Syracuse area. Public meetings on that proposal will be held at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Auburn Bass Pro Shops store and at the same time April 19 at the state fairgrounds.

Advocates argue that barring the harvest of young, small-antlered bucks will assure that deer herds in the future have a higher percentage of older, larger bucks - in fact, more bucks of all ages. The end result would be a healthier whitetail population with a more natural age structure and a nearly even ratio of does to bucks.

Detractors fume at the prospect of having to hold fire on yearling bucks they would gladly have shot in the past, and worry that antler restrictions will curtail opportunities for hunters who have only a few days to go afield each season.

They're concerned, as well, that tighter rules on buck hunting will cause a reduction in big-game license sales or somehow accelerate a trend toward leasing of prime deer hunting acreage by individual hunters and clubs.

Finally, opponents of antler restrictions fear they'll incur heavy legal penalties for inadvertently killing a buck with a rack that's an inch too narrow or one point short.

The Conservation Council survey won't shed light on such hot-button issues, for it includes only general questions about the role of antler standards in deer management.

Survey respondents are asked to rate the importance of meat hunting versus trophy hunting, whether they favor antler regulations as a means to protect yearling bucks, if they support either point restrictions or minimum antler widths, and whether hunters should be limited to one buck each per year.

GEORGIA NEWS: Fort Yargo considers deer hunt

By Arielle Kass, Gwinnett Daily Post

Staff Writer

WINDER — There’s a ring around Fort Yargo State Park. It goes about four-and-a-half feet off the ground, and in those four-and-a-half feet, it’s hard to see green.
That’s because the park’s deer have been eating and eating — and eating, until they ran out of things to eat.

Park Manager Eric Bentley said the browse lines, as they are known, indicate that the deer no longer have food in the park.

“They’ve eaten all the way up that a deer can reach,” he said. “They’ve eaten everything that’s green up to the four-and-a-half foot mark. They’re literally starving to death.”

Bentley said there are more than 80 deer per square mile in the park, which has become an island among construction in Winder. Normal density is between 20 and 25 deer per square mile.

The Department of Natural Resources will consider allowing hunters into the park for two days each in November and January to help cull the deer population. A public hearing outlining the proposal will be held at the Will-A-Way Camp April 20.

Bentley said the plan would allow as many as 65 hunters into the park each of those four days. He hopes 100 deer would be killed during each hunt.

Hunters would be encouraged to donate the meat to an organization called Hunters for the Hungry, Bentley said.

“There’s way too many,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

According to the Department of Natural Resources, deer in the park had over-browsed so much that some plant species would not be able to regenerate. Roads bordering the park have a number of deer-car collisions each year.

Bentley said the deer population has soared because the hunting pressure from nearby landowners has diminished, and the animals have continued to breed. If they starve to death, he said, disease will begin to spread through the population.

Controlled hunting has been allowed since 2003. The first public hunt, at Red Top Mou
ntain State Park in Cartersville, successfully reduced the number of deer while improving the herd’s health, the agency said. Similar hunts have also been successful at Hard Labor Creek and Richard B. Russell state parks.