Thursday, April 27, 2006

BRITISH COLUMBIA NEWS: Deer population rising, more drivers crashing

If you think you are seeing more deer in the area, you are probably right.
The RCMP say there is an increase in the deer population, which in turn means an increase in vehicle collisions with the deer.

Over the past three years there has been an increase in the number of motor vehicles collisions reported to the RCMP involving a wild animal, said Cpl. Mel Callander in a press release. Most of these collisions are with deer and occur on the Highway 97 corridor and Highway 20.

There were 75 collisions on these highways in 2003, 79 in 2004 and 102 in 2005. Mild winters, no disease and fewer predators have caused the increase in the deer population throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin region, said Callander.

Motorists are reminded that springtime is the season for collisions with wild animals and most occur at dawn or dusk when the deer are feeding alongside the roadways. Motorists should be driving accordingly by slowing down so they have more time to react to these wild animals.

There has been a change in the Motor Vehicle Act regarding reporting collisions with wild animals. Currently if you are in a collision with damage over $1000, the Motor Vehicle Act requires the driver to report the incident to the police within 48 hours if the collision occurred outside a city or municipality.

The officer in charge of E division traffic services has given direction to the RCMP detachments that they will no longer be required to investigate or report motor vehicle collisions involving wild animals. Motorists are to report directly to ICBC when filling a claim involving a collision with a wild animal unless there are injuries to the occupants of the vehicle, said Callander. This will give the officers more time to be strategically focused on their detachment and unit priorities.

WISCONSIN NEWS: Deer population grows in CWD Eradication Zone

There has been a setback in the fight against chronic wasting disease in the state's deer population. Despite an aggressive effort to control the disease in a 210-square-mile area of Dane and Iowa Counties, the deer population has actually increased.

The Department of Natural Resources has lengthened hunting seasons in that region and loosened bag limits in an effort to kill more deer over the past four years.

DNR officials briefing members of the Natural Resources Board in Stevens Point, say aerial counts show the number of deer per square mile increased from 23 last year to 33 this year.

DNR coordinator Alan Crossley says they haven't been able to figure out a reasonable strategy for combating CWD, but he says the DNR is still committed to its policy for controlling the disease.

MICHIGAN NEWS: Eastern UP Deer Thrive After Mild Winter

Despite a cold and snowy start to the 2005-06 winter season, the Upper Peninsula had a relatively mild season overall, according to figures compiled by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In crunching the numbers, Wildlife Biologist Rex Ainslie, speaking from the district headquarters in Newberry, painted a rosy picture.

“It appears,” he said, “there are yearlings out there in pretty good numbers.”

Ainslie observed that, in visiting the local deer yards during the critical period, there was an absence of “fuzzy-faced” fawns - a precursor to winter-kill. Reports continue to show the deer herd appears to be moving back into its summer range in good condition.

Using words such as “encouraged” and “pretty optimistic,” Ainslie said the survival of yearlings also indicates that pregnant does should be carrying healthy fawns.

“We've still got a whole summer season ahead of us,” he said, adding that it certainly would appear as though hunters could expect to see more deer in the fall.

The DNR annually measures winter severity using a mathematical formula derived from snow depth, snow compaction and temperature. When computations approach the 100 mark, wildlife officials expect to see population declines as the deer struggle to survive through the harsh winter conditions. While the 2005-06 season got off to a fast start with harsh conditions in November on into December, a tepid January helped to lessen the overall impact.

Although the official calculations will continue through the month of April, Ainslie indicated that the cumulative total will likely fall somewhere between 78 and 79, making the 2005-06 winter one of the more mild ones experienced in recent years.

Things were much worse 10 years ago, coming out of the 1995-96 winter. A decade ago, a harsh winter saw readings in the 120 range and up into the 130s throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula. With deer numbers at an all-time high going into the 1995 hunting season, the stage was set for a massive die-off, and when the ice and snow finally receded it was estimated that approximately 40,000 deer perished in our region.

Most deer have already left their yarding areas, returning to their summer ranges; stopping to feed on new growth and rapidly growing plant life along the way. Ainslie indicated the deer herd will not be fully-dispersed until the fawning season sometime in mid-May.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Dept. Agriculture to Provide Deer Fencing to Farmers

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus has announced that a deer fencing program will be run cooperatively by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.

The cost-share program will provide fencing material, plus up to 30 percent of the line posts at no cost to qualified farmers who were not awarded fencing in the 2004-05 program.

"The deer fencing program is part of our effort to partner with the agricultural community to ensure the viability of New Jersey's farms," said Kuperus. "The fencing is an effective tool in keeping deer from damaging crops and allows farmers to benefit from higher yields."

This is the second year of the department's deer fencing program. In 2005, fence, accompanying wire and posts were distributed to 100 farmers throughout the state.

A Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension survey of farmers who participated in previous deer fencing programs indicated that almost 70 percent of wildlife crop loss is attributable to deer. The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station estimates the economic loss to farmers to be between $5 million and $10 million annually.

To participate in the program, farmers must meet these eligibility criteria:

+ Farmers who were awarded fencing and materials in the 2004-05 program are not eligible to participate.

+ Must be a New Jersey farmer having documented proof of a minimum of $40,000 in sales of agricultural commodities produced by the applicant on a New Jersey farm.

+ Must be a New Jersey certified organic farmer having documented proof of a minimum of $20,000 in sales of agricultural commodities produced by the applicant on a New Jersey farm.

+ Must be the owner of the land or have documented proof of renting preserved farmland or farmland that is enrolled in an Eight-Year Farmland Preservation Program.

+ Complete a mandatory deer fence installation workshop sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.

Farmers who receive fencing and materials will be required to use the material solely for the purpose of keeping deer off their land and are prohibited from using the fence to contain equine, livestock, poultry, or other animals.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

MICHIGAN NEWS: Hunters give DNR an earful

Deer management has been difficult for the DNR... and frustrating for hunters across the U.P. Saturday, the DNR coordinated a workshop meeting to let the hunters know, they're listening to their concerns.

"We're responding to the public, basically say we heard you and we're here to talk more about how we do deer population management," said Bill Moritz of the DNR Wildlife Division.

Hunters say they want to see the DNR to do more to create a bigger and better deer herd, that means adjusting some of the current regulations, reducing the 2 buck limit, and dealing with predator populations. Around 50 hunters came to participate in the sometimes heated discussion.

"As an avid hunter I think it's my responsibility to try to understand how the DNR is managing the heard rather than just complain about what's going on," said Tom Carreher of Ishpeming.

While the DNR described in detail how they manage and estimate trends in the deer population...hunters voiced a lack of credibility in the DNR's numbers and claim mis-management in the field.

The friction between the hunters and the DNR has gone on for years but both sides are hoping that meetings like todays workshop will help create positive action and improve understanding.

State Senator Mike Prusi also expressed their concern at the meeting.

"I'm here to listen to what my fellow sportsmen and women are talking about and encourage the DNR and the commission, not to just spend time listening but to actually take some action," said Senator Prusi.

A call to action on what is a complicated and complex issue.