Wednesday, December 06, 2006

INDIANA NEWS: Successful Cull at Indiana Dunes State Park

Rooney's note: Indiana Dunes SP is 3.4 square miles, so the cull translates to 24 deer per square mile removed. Wow! Also note at the end of the article that the park manager states he was impressed with hunters' knowledge of overgrazing problems. This is progress

Hunters remove 84 from herd at Dunes State Park.


Hunters at Indiana Dunes State Park took nearly twice as many deer this year than they did last year.

"It shows us the population has rebounded," said Brandt Baughman, property manager for the park.

Hunters removed a total of 84 deer from the herd during hunts on Nov. 12 and 13 and Monday and Tuesday.

Of the 84 deer taken during this year's hunt, 31 were removed Monday and Tuesday.

"That's a pretty significant number, considering we had 48 over the four days back in 2005," Baughman said.

Hunting is banned in state parks except for when studies show it is necessary because of overgrazing of plants. Hunters must apply to participate and be approved by the state. Baughman said 100 were approved for Indiana Dunes State Park hunts this year.

Baughman said 58 hunters participated in the hunt on Monday and 30 on Tuesday.

"That's not too bad, especially considering many of these hunters were drawn for both hunts," he said. "The first two days were rainy and the second were cold and terribly windy. The real challenge for the hunters was how wet everything is from the extremely wet fall. If it wasn't wet, it was ice."

Baughman said he was impressed with hunters' knowledge of overgrazing problems at the park and their respect for their role in thinning the herd.

"We have these orientations where the hunters come in and they are definitely concerned and want to help," he said. "That's exactly what I saw when they came to the park for the hunts and we really appreciate that."

CALIFORNIA NEWS: Culling Exotic Deer at Point Reyes

The days of non-native deer populations in the Point Reyes National Seashore are officially numbered.

A National Park Service plan to kill off fallow and axis deer by a combination of contraception and shooting has been approved and entered into the Federal Register. The deer - which biologists say have run roughshod over the park's ecosystem - will be eliminated by 2021 under the plan.

"We will now get a group of people together to begin to talk about how to implement the program," said John Dell'Osso, Point Reyes National Seashore spokesman. "Nothing will start until next year."

The plan to shoot the deer has been controversial, and groups such as the Marin Humane Society vow to keep fighting the plan.

"The decision may be in the books, but our work will continue to save the animals," said Diane Allevato, executive director of the humane society. "There is strong community opposition to this decision and a lot can happen in the 15 years the park service is saying it will take to remove the deer. It's not over for us."

Some female deer will be rounded up with use of a helicopter, then injected with a drug that will keep them from becoming pregnant. The park service will hire a company to shoot the rest of the deer.

The park service has a $750,000 budget for the project. A timeline has not been set.
The park service will donate the venison and hides to nonprofit or charity organizations. A California condor recovery program and food banks have expressed interest in the meat, and American Indian groups are interested in the pelts.

John Jarvis, director of the National Park Service's Pacific West region, gave the plan his approval in October and it was published in the Federal Register last week.

The issue has sparked years of debate. More than 2,000 written and oral comments were presented during recent testimony on the issue as the plan was reviewed.

Two types of non-native deer - which live up to 20 years - roam the 100-square-mile Point Reyes National Seashore: fallow deer, native to Europe and the Mediterranean; and axis deer, native to India and southern Asia.

In the 1940s, the species were purchased by a West Marin land owner from the San Francisco Zoo, which had an excess of the animals. The land owner then released the animals on his property for hunting. When his land later became part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, which was established in 1962, hunting ceased. Those that survived began to re-populate in the area.

Today, there are 300 axis deer and about 1,000 fallow deer. The latter's population has doubled since 2003.

Fallow deer were once concentrated in the central part of the seashore but are now found throughout the park. Their range has been documented eastward, beyond the park's borders. They have been seen on nearby private property and state parklands. If the migration continues, management of the species could become difficult, park officials say.

Park biologists are concerned the non-natives might out-muscle native black-tail deer and tule elk for food, water and cover. The non-natives also can carry disease.

The animals eat 5 to 10 percent of their body weight a day, taking in a ton of forage daily, food that otherwise would be available to native deer. Rabbits, rodents and other animals are affected, too, and officials see ridding the area of deer as the best way to balance nature.

Until 1994, the deer populations were kept in check by shooting by park officials. The deer meat was given to charitable organizations. But that practice stopped when the park service said it wanted to study the situation.

Since then, the non-native deer populations have gone uncontrolled.

MINNESOTA NEWS: Three Deer With One Bullet

By Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH, Minn. - Minnesota's firearms deer season was almost over, and Chris Olsen of Two Harbors needed to get his venison. One shot changed his season in a big way.

Olsen killed three deer with the same bullet from his 8-millimeter Mauser.

Olsen, 50, was hunting on his property about 15 miles north of Two Harbors late in the afternoon Nov. 17. Two deer that Olsen described as yearlings (1 1/2-year-olds) walked in to check out a scent cloth he had put out. He was going to shoot one of the yearlings, when a doe appeared. It approached the yearlings at the scent cloth, which was about 60 yards from Olsen's stand.

"I thought, `I'm going to have to shoot her. It's desperate times,' " Olsen said.

He was shooting the 8-millimeter Mauser he had bought from a friend about a year ago, he said. It's a German military rifle, he said.

Olsen shot the doe with a single shot, and all three deer bounded away. Olsen thought he might have missed.

Later, his brother Lee Olsen of Two Harbors joined him. They found the doe a short distance away and field-dressed her.

"By George, we got done with her, and there was another one," Olsen said. "I thought, `Wow, two deer with one shot.' "

The two men field-dressed the yearling and retired to their deer shack for the night. The next morning, Chris Olsen got to thinking, and he went back to where he had found the doe and the yearling.

"We retraced our steps, and my gosh, there's a drop of blood," he said.

Olsen found the third deer - the second yearling - not far away. All three deer had fallen within 50 yards of each other, Olsen said. The bullet had passed completely through the first two deer and a piece of it had lodged in the third deer.

"I couldn't believe it. It's absolutely unbelievable," Olsen said.

Olsen had tags to legally take all three deer. He was checked later in the hunt by Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Kipp Duncan of Two Harbors. Duncan wasn't surprised when Olsen told him he had taken three deer. But he was surprised when Olsen told him he had taken all three with a single shot.

Olsen is happy.

"We got venison," he said.

WISCONSIN NEWS: Audit of Deer Census Techniques Concluded

Rooney's note: Will this satisfy the subpopulation of hunters who think the DNR can't count deer? Probably not--look for another taxpayer-funded audit in 6-10 years.

A scientific panel says that when it comes to counting deer, the state DNR is doing a pretty accurate job.

The deer estimates the DNR issues are often greeted with skepticism by hunters who say the agency is over estimating.

But preliminary results from the study panel from elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada show the DNR’s estimate is the best available, given the current understanding of the species.

The DNR estimated there were about 1.7 million deer in the state herd going into this fall's hunt.