Thursday, September 14, 2006

TEXAS NEWS: Deer Dieoff, Hemorragic Disease Suspected

West of Eden, deer are dying. And state wildlife specialists are scrambling to figure out why.

West Texas landowners, in a rough triangle around San Angelo encompassed by the towns of Eden to the east, Ozona to the south and Sterling City to the northwest, have reported an unusual number of dead deer, said Don Davis, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station veterinary pathobiologist.

"While some level of deer mortality is not newsworthy, it looks like we have a hot spot developing for epizootic hemorrhagic disease," said Texas Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist Dale Rollins.

The flyborne disease is similar to an ailment called bluetongue that affects sheep and cattle, but Rollins said it's most common in white-tailed deer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

IOWA NEWS: Urban Hunt in Ames

A new ordinance will allow the hunting of deer by bow and arrow in designated areas of Ames. The Ames City Council approved the deer management ordinance Tuesday night. The ordinance proposed the legal hunting of deer using bow and arrow in zones designated by Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Its purpose is to control animal populations within and around the city of Ames. The ordinance will take effect Oct. 1.

Twelve cities in Iowa already allow deer hunting, and 11 of these cities allow hunting with a bow and arrow. "Every city that has passed this has been very satisfied with it," said Ames Police Chief Loras Jaeger.

All Ames deer hunters must follow a number of rules, including passing a proficiency test and obtaining a special-use permit.

To measure the effectiveness of the ordinance, an annual aerial count will be taken and reported back to the council, Jaeger said.

Although the ordinance was passed, there were concerned community members.

"If you need to control the deer population, there are safer ways to do so," said Wolfgang Kliemann, professor of mathematics and Ames resident.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

MARYLAND NEWS: Exotic Sika Deer Accelerating Beach Erosion

Assateague State Park, famous for its wild ponies, is being overrun by another small, hoofed animal that is eating the plants that hold back beach erosion: sika deer.

To save vegetation, state wildlife managers want to whittle the population through an archery-only hunting season from Nov. 13 to Jan. 31. "We've got to do something out there," said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "Assateague is a unique and valuable resource, and it would be irresponsible to stand by and let it be eaten alive." The agency is asking for public comment.

Although the 680-acre park south of Ocean City is just a sliver of the 37-mile-long barrier island, it is among the top-five busiest state parks each year, attracting 14,000 campers a week and thousands of day trippers.

"It's a confined area. You see the deer far more now than you did several years ago. The ponies eat vegetation, but that population is stable and easy to count. You can see the increase in destruction," said Col. Rick Barton, head of the state parks.

Hunting already is used by the National Park Service to keep the deer population in check on the portion of the island it manages.

Sika deer are much smaller than white-tailed deer, weighing from 50 to 100 pounds and standing about 2 1/2 -feet tall. Introduced to Maryland from Asia in 1916, their numbers have increased and herds have taken hold in the four southernmost counties on the Eastern Shore.

The proposal would allow 12 bow hunters in the park each day, with two of the locations reserved for disabled hunters. Hunting would be allowed from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. "This has been under consideration for a long time," said Barton. "We wanted to be confident it could be done carefully and perfectly. We have hunting at a lot of state parks. ... Why not Assateague?"