Friday, December 28, 2007

WISCONSIN NEWS: You Have a 1 In 99 Chance of Hitting A Deer in 2008

If snow or ice doesn’t mangle your car, a deer might.

State Farm Insurance says Wisconsin drivers have a 1 in 99 chance of hitting a deer in the New Year.

That’s the third highest in the nation, behind only Michigan and West Virginia.

Eric Englund of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance says about five cents of every dollar spent on auto policies pays for deer damage.

Those claims totaled $100 million statewide last year.

Keith Warnke of the state Department of Natural Resources says you’re 209 times more likely to hit a deer on the road than to get injured in a hunting accident.

Warnke should know. His vehicles have struck five deer in his lifetime.

A year ago, Waupaca County had the most deer crashes in the state, just more than 1,900.

Dane and Eau Claire counties were next on the list.

Most insurers include deer crashes in their comprehensive policies which also cover things like fires and vandalism.

About three-fourths of insured Wisconsin motorists have comprehensive coverage.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CALIFORNIA NEWS: Plan to Remove Deer from Santa Rosa Island Clears Hurdle

WASHINGTON — Congress appears on the verge of overturning a year-old federal law that critics say would in effect have allowed deer and elk hunting to continue indefinitely on Santa Rosa Island.

Language that would repeal the law and allow for the herds' removal from the island has been included in a $500 billion, end-of-year spending bill that Congress is expected to approve this week.

The House passed the bill Monday night on a vote of 253-154. The Senate is expected to give its approval later this week.

"This marks the end to a long battle over Santa Rosa Island," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who inserted the language into the massive spending bill during negotiations between the House and Senate.

The Santa Rosa language is part of a 1,482-page bill that covers the budgets for every Cabinet except the Pentagon. Because it is included in the broader budget bill, opponents will have little, if any, opportunity to strip the language from the legislation.

President Bush said Monday he is hopeful he can sign the bill, but only after Democrats agree to accept funding for U.S. troops in Iraq.

If approved, the measure would mark a huge victory for environmentalists and other groups who have been battling for years to get the non-native deer and elk removed from Santa Rosa by the end of 2011, as mandated by a court settlement.

Santa Rosa, which sits off the coast of Ventura County, is part of Channel Islands National Park.

Ron Sundergill of the National Parks Conservation Association said the Santa Rosa language in the spending bill "would turn around something that shouldn't have been done in the first place.''

"It is a huge victory for all Americans who own the national parks and should be able to use the national parks at all times," Sundergill said.

Lawmakers have been battling over the future of the park for more than two years, when California Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, began pushing legislation to allow the deer and elk to remain on the island permanently.

The herds are owned by Vail & Vickers, a company that runs a commercial hunting operation on the island. Hunter has said he wants the animals to remain on the island so members of the military and their families can continue to take part in the trophy hunts.

The federal law, passed last year at Hunter's urging, rescinded the court settlement and would have allowed the deer and elk to stay on the island permanently. While the law says nothing about the hunting operation, critics have argued it would in essence allow the hunts to continue indefinitely.

Vail & Vickers has said it has no desire to continue the hunting operation beyond 2011.

Regardless, the new legislation pushed by Feinstein and other congressional Democrats would reinstate the terms of the court settlement, facilitating the herds' removal and ending the hunting operation after 2011.

"Santa Rosa Island is a jewel in our national park system and should be open to all of our people, not just a select few," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who had worked with Feinstein to overturn the law.

"With this legislation, we are correcting a mistake that should never have been made," Boxer said.

Rep. Lois Capps, who had pushed similar legislation in the House, said the repeal of the federal law would guarantee that the court-ordered settlement will be fully carried out to protect Santa Rosa and provide unrestricted access to the island year-round after 2011.

Most of the island is closed to the public for four to five months of the year because of the hunts.

"As someone who's visited Santa Rosa Island and witnessed its beauty and rare archaeological and natural resources, I know we have to do all we can to protect this unique national treasure for future generations," said Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

Channel Islands National Park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard declined to comment directly on the legislation because it is pending.

But, she said, until the animals are removed and the hunting operation ends, "much of the island will remain closed to the public for nearly half a year."

"We're very anxious and eager to make this island, which has spectacular resources, available to the public full time for their enjoyment," Menard said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Suburban Cull Impinges On Deer Season--Anger Ensues

Over six months sharpshooters have killed 465 deer in Solebury in a program that farmers and hunters say has led to a noticeable drop in the whitetail population — though they disagree on whether that is a good thing.

“We're seeing an immediate response,” said Harris Glass, who is overseeing the cull. “The deer are just not there.”

This year, supervisors approved a more than $250,000 plan that calls on the federal Department of Agriculture to kill deer at volunteer properties over 24 months. In June, a three-man crew began the effort, which provoked outcry from animal lovers and sportsmen, who feared it would hurt the hunting season.

Glass, the state director of USDA's Wildlife Services, said 465 whitetails have been taken— made up of 126 bucks, 181 does and 158 deer less than 1 year old.

That's out of a Solebury population originally estimated at 4,500, or roughly half the number of people in the township. Officials say the program is necessary to reduce a nuisance animal that threatens farmers' livelihood, slows reforestation and causes almost daily car accidents.

But the lower numbers have some hunters saying it has hampered their sport, as they have found fewer, and smaller, deer.

It's a constant topic of conversation among sportsmen, said Bill Campo, a Doylestown bow and muzzle-loader hunter who has hunting spots in Solebury.

“The opportunity to take larger does and larger bucks is a lot less,” Campo said. “It's kind of sad because you've got the sharpshooters hunting a lot of older does and just leaving the yearlings.”

In total, the crew spent 26 nights in the field, and shot deer — including bucks — throughout the six months.

That runs counter to statements Wildlife Service made earlier this year, when it said it would take only does while hunters were in the field during the primary sport season, which ran from Nov. 26 to Dec. 8.

Glass said the crew reduced its effort during that time, and focused on does. But four bucks were among the 42 deer killed in November and December, he said.

“If we found the deer in the act of doing damage, we did take bucks. If they are in a fenced in, enclosed nursery, they are fair game,” Glass said.

It is rare for culling programs to continue at all during the hunting season, said Jerry Feaser, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Usually, they are held afterward, to avoid competing with sportsmen, he said.

“This is unusual,” Feaser said. “But the driving force behind the effort in this case is based on reducing the amount of deer depredation to nursery stocks, arboretums, etc.”

Lars Crooks, who helps manage a tree farm off Route 263, said he is seeing a fifth of the deer he used to at his family's 72 acres. Instead of herds of deer, smaller family groupings are more prevalent, he said.

“We've absolutely seen a reduction in numbers. There's no doubt about it,” Crooks said. “Before it was almost the suburbs for them, they were just everywhere.”

He said the impact is sure to show for farmers who have long seen significant losses to deer grazing.

“This is the first year that I remember that I've found acorns on the ground at this time of year,” he said. “Usually, the deer would have eaten them all up by now.”

Paul Lanctot, a bow hunter who lives on Laurel Road in Solebury, said he did get his buck this year, though it took longer than expected.

“There are a lot less deer, no question about it,” Lanctot said. “I'm not the only one; we've all said the same thing.”

Solebury's effort comes as many communities are looking at ways to bring down high deer populations.

Upper Makefield has hired a private company to coordinate bow hunting in the township. Lower Makefield is also considering encouraging archery after they had mulled sharpshooters.

Solebury's crew bags deer only from properties that have signed up for the program. It has been granted access to 13 percent of the township's acreage, though it has so far been concentrating on the largest parcels, Glass said.

On those lands, the number of deer has fallen significantly, Glass said. But in other places in the township, he said he is sure strong deer populations remain.

“We pass up numerous properties where we're seeing deer, but we don't have permission to enter,” Glass said. “The bucks are still there to be taken. And I'm sure [hunters] have taken them there, nice ones.”

Wildlife Services gives the meat of the deer it takes to area food banks. So far, more than 12,000 pounds of venison have been donated, Glass said.


Monday, December 17, 2007

GERMANY NEWS: Germans Seek Bad Odors to Combat Deer

Hanover, Germany - A motorists' group in Germany on Monday demanded greater use of repulsive odours to keep deer off roads. Deer are scared by the smell of humans and wolves, so the decade-old German technology requires a foam containing those odours to be stuck to trees every 5 metres along the side of the road.

The noise of traffic combined with the scent deters deer from crossing the road and being killed in collisions with cars. When the road is quiet, the deer pluck up courage to run across.

The Lower Saxony branch of the ADAC appealed for hunters to create more of the odour barriers, saying 2,300 people were injured or killed last year in 220,000 collisions with wild animals. A much higher number of the deer and boar perished in the crashes.

The group said animal-car collisions had been reduced 80 per cent in places in Lower Saxony where the virtual barrier was employed.

The blobs of polyurethane foam about the size of tennis balls have to have fresh scent repeatedly added to them.


OHIO NEWS: Village of 3500 To Kill Deer

AMBERLEY, Ohio (AP) - A southwest Ohio village is spending $3,000 for a professional deer count to make sure no more deer will be killed than necessary during a thinning of the herd.

Amberley officials say deer-related traffic accidents and residents' complaints about deer prompted the village to authorize culling, or thinning, the herd.

Councilman Louis Katz convinced the village council to wait to cull until a professional deer count is taken.

Katz says it's true the only way to have no deer-related accidents is to kill all the deer, but that's not what Amberley is all about.

Village police say there were 22 deer-related traffic accidents in Amberley in 2006 and 13 so far this year. None were fatal.


AUSTRALIA NEWS: Farmers Want Introduced Sambar Deer Declared Pest

East Gippsland farmers in south-east Victoria are continuing their campaign to have sambar deer declared a pest animal.

A scientific committee has recommended to the State Government that the deer be declared a threat to biodiversity under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

Shooters' organisations want the deer protected so their numbers are maintained for controlled hunting.

The Member for Gippsland East, Craig Ingram, says landholders should be able to kill deer grazing on their properties, and use the carcasses.

"I've copped a bit of criticism from the shooting fraternity, but if they think about this rationally their sport should not be impacting upon the biodiversity in the state forests and national parks and so their game species should not be impacting upon private landholders," he said.


Friday, December 14, 2007

WISCONSIN NEWS: Deer Baiting #1 Season Violation for 4th Straight Year

by Pat Durkin, Green Bay Press-Gazette

With the U.S. dollar worth less than its Canadian counterpart, maybe some people no longer gasp and clutch their chest when handed an unexpected bill for $530.

Some of us might even smile and pay up if it secured two premium tickets to a Green Bay Packers playoff game.

One thing $530 doesn't do, however, is deter everyone from illegally baiting and feeding deer, which usually means exceeding the 40-acre limit of 2 gallons of shell-corn or bad apples.

For many folks, a $530 fine must be an acceptable risk. What else can you conclude when 331 citations during the November firearms deer season made illegal baiting the No. 1 offense on the Department of Natural Resources' "Top 10 Violations" list the fourth straight year?

This was also the fourth consecutive year illegal baiting citations increased since the Legislature in 2003 rescinded the DNR's statewide ban, which the agency imposed after chronic wasting disease surfaced in February 2002.

Those 331 baiting violations are a 30 percent increase from 254 in 2006, a 50 percent increase from 221 in 2005, a 120 percent increase from 150 in 2004, and a 336 percent increase from 76 in 2003.

In similar fashion, deer-feeding citations increased the third straight year, jumping to No. 3 with 82 offenses, an 82 percent increase from 45 in 2006 when it ranked No. 7. Further, baiting/feeding violations accounted for 413 (47 percent) of the 881 citations on the DNR's top 10 list.

Roughly speaking, the difference between baiting and feeding is baiters intend to shoot deer after luring them into range with handouts. In contrast, feeders like to watch deer on their property, and hope the free food keeps "their deer" nearby so others can't shoot them.

Meanwhile, citations for transporting a loaded gun in a motorized vehicle held the No. 2 spot for the fourth straight year, with 120 offenses.

Another perennial violation, transporting an uncased gun, dropped from third in 2006 to No. 4 with 80 citations.

That means the No. 2 spot is within reach of deer-feeders. After all, citations for transporting a loaded gun averaged 111 citations the past five years. With just a few more phone tips from concerned citizens, deer-feeders could overtake road-hunters in 2008.

Eye on the prize, and all that.

These dismal numbers for baiting and feeding look even worse when noting the practices are allowed in only 46 of Wisconsin's 72 counties. They're banned in the DNR's South-Central district and most of its Southeast District because of CWD. Baiting and feeding are minor problems there, accounting for 45 (11 percent) of the 413 citations statewide.

For further reference, DNR wardens wrote only 87 baiting citations statewide in 2002, the one year it was illegal throughout Wisconsin. Of course, apologists often blame the DNR for Wisconsin's baiting/feeding problems.

Some even fault conservation wardens for not enforcing the 2-gallon limit, but seconds later claim wardens overlook safety infractions to "harass" baiters/feeders.

The numbers don't support either claim. The four most common safety violations since 2003 are transporting loaded guns, 553 total citations (an annual average of 111); transporting uncased guns, 444 (89); hunting within 50 feet of a paved road's center, 300 (60); and shooting within 50 feet of a road or across it, 300 (60).

During November's gun season, citations for those offenses were 120, 80, 62 and 46, respectively, with citations up from 2006 in two categories and down in two.

Meanwhile, pitiful souls often beseech the DNR to ban baiting and feeding, even as they receive the $530 ticket. They must have forgotten the Natural Resources Board voted for statewide bans in 2003 and 2007, but was ignored both years by the Legislature.

Until baiting/feeding opponents apply heat to lawmakers to rescind the 2003 law written by Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, passed by the Legislature, and allowed to stand by Gov. Jim Doyle, baiters shouldn't expect salvation from anyone but themselves.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

IOWA NEWS: State Ponders Emergency Hunt Extension

Iowa's recent stretch of lousy weather will likely give deer hunters another shot at bagging a trophy this year.

The Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday morning to decide whether an emergency hunt is necessary. Poor weather made this years deer season difficult especially for those in southern Iowa.

Now the DNR is hoping to make it up to hunters. "Hopefully, provide a better opportunity for the hunter to harvest a deer," said State Conservation Officer Randy Schnoebelen.

The DNR says they are about 34,000 deer short of last years harvest and their target. The emergency hunt would be open to anyone with an unfilled first and second season shotgun tag, or a youth hunting tag.

If the commission approves the special season it would be the first of its kind in Iowa.

The DNR says a new computer tracking system is helping them keep closer tabs on the hunt. "It's so immediate, the data is right there, in years past the harvest reporting was done the old fashioned method," said Schnoebelen.

There is another catch. Sportsmen will only be able to take antlerless deer. If the commission approves the emergency hunt, the special season will be held the following weekend.

It's expected that the Natural Resources Commission will announce details of how folks can get special hunting licenses after they make their decision.


Friday, December 07, 2007

MARYLAND NEWS: County Eases Rules for Urban Hunts

The County Council approved a new deer management bill Tuesday that will loosen county deer hunting laws while aligning many regulations with state law.

The bill was passed by a vote of 7-0.

It allows deer hunting in urban areas on private properties that are at least 50 acres. It also reduces the safety zone for firing weapons from 200 yards to 150 yards from a home or other occupied building, as is prescribed by state law.

"The main purpose of the bill is to make the county laws regarding deer hunting more flexible,” said Kathleen Boucher, senior legislative attorney for the council. "It implements the recommendations of the deer management work group. The main change is inside the urban boundary; it allows hunting on parcels 50 acres in size. That is new.”

Boucher said the bill was written to address many problems related to the overpopulation of deer, including vehicle collisions and damage to crops and landscape. The county executive has 10 days to sign the bill into law, and the law will take effect 90 days after it is signed.

Rob Gibbs, chairman of the county’s deer management work group, said that he hopes landowners in urban areas will take advantage of the bill that makes it easier for them to manage deer.

‘‘I would not expect to see a huge surge in hunting throughout the urban parts of the county,” he said. ‘‘Some landowners will take immediate advantage and others will learn about it.”

Wade Butler, owner of Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, said the bill is long overdue. He installed a $100,000, 8-foot fence around 265 acres of his property five years ago to try to stop the deer from damaging crops.

‘‘With the amount of deer hunting we were doing, we weren’t getting the job done,” Butler said. ‘‘We were having terrific losses.”

The bill also reduces the buffer zone for firing a gun near a public road from 100 to 50 yards. A council committee had originally recommended eliminating the buffer zone around a road completely, but the council decided to retain a buffer that prohibits the shooting of a gun from a road based on input from the county’s Firearms Safety Committee and county police Chief Thomas J. Manager.

The police chief expressed concern a few weeks ago in a letter to the council, writing that drivers would have difficulty seeing the hunters discharging guns along the side of a road if the buffer was removed.

The council’s Public Safety Committee agreed, according to the staff report. The bill also kept the stipulation that prohibits the discharge of a gun or bow on or across from a road.

Council President Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown, who introduced the bill two years ago, said the most important aspect of the bill was the stipulation that allows hunting in urban areas with large tracts of land.

Knapp said it will help landowners manage deer and reduce the crop damage for farmers in the county.

‘‘I’m pleased we finally got it through,” Knapp said. ‘‘Because of the extra time we took, we made sure we had the right safeguards in place.”

Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he is confident the bill will help reduce vehicle collisions and make the county safer.

‘‘We gave it careful scrutiny,” he said. ‘‘I’m satisfied with how the bill came out. I think it will help reduce the overpopulation of deer.”


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Town Residents Petition for Urban Deer Hunt

People in Eden are asking city officials to take a controversial step to help thin the deer population.

Some say the animals are becoming a nuisance and a hazard in urban areas, particularly for drivers.

Homeowners and garden club members in the Oaks subdivision in south central Eden think a bow-hunting season could help curb the number of deer that destroy landscaping and cause traffic problems.

The petition was spearheaded by Janis Davis, who said she is fed up with her yard on Laurel Wood Drive being a buffet for deer.

"It is frustrating to know you've planted things in your yard and you have no control over what they eat," Davis said.

The group cites heavy development in the area, once woodlands, as the cause of the wandering deer. In the past 20 years, developers built two shopping centers, two apartment complexes, a church, a hospital facility and the 48-home subdivision.

The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission estimates more than 45 deer per square mile in Rockingham County east of Wentworth, including Reidsville and Eden. The commission estimates 30 to 45 deer per square mile west of Wentworth along the county's southern border.

Davis tried dozens of deterrents before arriving at bow hunting. She said she tried all manner of store-bought and home remedies with no success.

"I have been on the Internet and made this terrible-smelling egg stuff you're supposed to spray on your plants to stop them from eating them, but it didn't work," she said.

Fences work, Davis said, but the homeowners association does not allow them. What's more, she really doesn't want a fence.

Davis and her neighbors want the city to file for a special deer-hunting season, allowing permitted hunters to hunt within the city limits using a bow and arrows.
Nearby Danville, Va., adopted a similar ordinance two years ago. Permitted hunters there can kill deer on their property or property in which the owner has granted them permission to hunt. Hunters must be at least 10 feet off the ground from their target, and their arrow must not leave the property on which they are hunting. Hunters cannot fire an arrow across any public right of way, such as a street or sidewalk, nor can they fire an arrow toward a building.

Danville Deputy City Manager M. Lyle Lacy III said residents wanted the hunting season for the same reason advocates in Eden are looking at it - safety and landscaping.

"Those two things together, the former more so than the latter, because it was putting lives in danger, prompted us to put in place the ordinance," Lacy said.
Lacy said the program is still too new to know whether it has been a success, but a report is expected in April.

Eden City Manager Brad Corcoran included the petition and Davis' letter in a weekly report to the City Council two weeks ago. But, Corcoran said, he does not intend to include the item on an upcoming city agenda, nor has a council member instructed him to.

Corcoran, who lives in The Oaks, said he often sees deer in his backyard. He agreed it was a nuisance but said people who live close to woods have to expect it. A hunter himself, Corcoran said he is not comfortable with the idea of an urban hunting season.

"While there's a lot of good hunters and safety-minded hunters, you still hear about a lot of accidents," he said.

The idea does not sit well with Eden Police Chief Gary Benthin, either. Although the issue is not a police matter, Corcoran said he conferred with the chief on the issue because of the safety concerns. Benthin said he believes it is "terribly unsafe to hunt in the city limits."

Benthin also questions arguments about deer affecting traffic safety in the city.
"The original complaint I heard months ago was the deer were eating shrubbery. I really don't consider that a safety concern," he said.

Lacy said Danville police have not received any reports of hunting accidents in the city since the policy was adopted.

"The conditions we have in the permit-granting address that," he said.
Davis said she understands the concerns the city and some of her neighbors have about the safety issues. She said she shares many of those same concerns but still believes the hunting season could help - with the proper limitations.

Davis said she does not have plans to press the council on the issue until she has done more research on how other communities are handling the issue.
"I'm really just looking for some help here," she said.

As for her landscaping, Davis said she has learned what not to plant - pansies, for example - which, she says, deer love.

"They won't eat cactus," she said with a chuckle.


INDIANA NEWS: Overabundant Deer Prompt Culling, Park Closings

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources plans to temporarily close 18 state parks, including Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis, and one nature preserve in the coming weeks for deer hunts.

The parks and nature preserve will be closed Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 10-11.

The DNR says the deer populations have grown too large for the areas to support them and maintain an ecological balance.

The parks to be closed are Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick's Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles and Whitewater Memorial. The Twin Swamps Nature Preserve near Evansville will also be closed.


Friday, November 16, 2007

UK NEWS: Cull in Quantock Hills Called "Shooting Spree"

THE number of red deer on the Quantock Hills could be halved if plans by a conservation group go ahead.

The Quantock Deer Management and Conservation Group has sent letters to landowners on the hills to drum up support for a mass cull of red deer on November 30, which will target fe-male and young deer.

The group claims deer numbers are 'unacceptable' and that the animals are causing damage to forestry and farming interests.

The group aims to hold an annual cull over the next five to ten years to reduce population levels.

But the South West Deer Protection Group has condemned the cull and branded it "a shooting spree".

Its chairman Kevin Hill said: "One problem with the proposed shooting spree is that any deer in the sight of the gun might be shot.

"We're not against the principle of culling deer. Our job is to make people think.

"I'm into the minimum number being culled, but this looks like one big blast."

Deer biologist and secretary of the Quantock Deer Management and Conservation Group, Dr Jochen Langbein, told the County Gazette that action must be taken to protect farmland from damage.

"I think they don't really understand that it's meant to be one day of culling not a major slaughter of deer.

"We're aiming to try and get deer back to levels people are happier with over a period of about five years," he added.

"Almost every farm we work with feels there are too many deer and most are happy to see 20 or 30 deer roaming the fields, not 50 or 60."

The group hopes the cull will take place in the morning and evening of November 30.

The Quantock Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty group is also supporting the plans.

Group development officer Iain Porter said: "It's not designed to eradicate red deer but to bring levels back to a sustainable deer heard."


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WISCONSIN NEWS: Wausau Takes Aim At Urban Deer

A flurry of resident complaints about deer foraging in yards has led city officials to find a safe method to control the urban deer population.

The favored method involves hiring sharpshooters. Several residents on the outskirts of the city claim deer ravage their landscaping and create a safety hazard for traffic. Based on police records, there were about 100 deer-related crashes within city limits the past five years.

"The consensus has been that we need to do something to control the deer in the city," said Dave Erickson, the city's environmental engineer.

Deb Hadley, president of the City Council, said Monday at a public hearing that some council members, including herself, started receiving complaints this summer about the deer. Erickson said a state grant could provide up to $5,000 for urban deer control, and the city has applied for a grant.

At the public hearing, four Wausau residents spoke about the deer issue -- three raised no objections to the sharpshooters, though Brad Hoffman did.

"I think the bow is the effective way of getting rid of (the deer problem)," Hoffman said, adding that Rhinelander used bowhunters last year to control deer herds within city limits.

Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel said he's received requests from bowhunters to help control the urban herds, but police have yet to authorize hunting within the city.

"We're just not comfortable allowing hunting in the city," he said. "We feel more comfortable with sharpshooters."

If sharpshooters were used, Hardel said they would put up deer stands near a problem area -- mostly on the northeast, northwest and westernmost outskirts -- bait the deer and then shoot them during evening hours. The sharpshooters would not be positioned in someone's backyard, Hardel said.

The city expects to hear back from the state regarding the grant in January.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

NORTH DAKOTA NEWS: Will Record Deer Licenses Translate to a Record Deer Harvest?

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials are hoping a record number of deer licenses and hunters will help control the state's burgeoning deer population.

The state's deer gun season opens at noon Friday and continues through Nov. 25.

"I think we'll have a real good deer season," wildlife chief Randy Kreil said. "The deer are healthy, the weather looks good and the enthusiasm is certainly there, with a record number of people wanting to participate."

Kreil said about one in six North Dakotans are expected to hunt deer this year.

The Game and Fish Department issued a record 148,550 deer licenses, up 5,050 from 2006. An additional 4,350 whitetail and 700 mule deer licenses are available this year.

Kreil said 97 percent of the licenses had been issued by Thursday afternoon.

"Our deer population - especially for whitetail - is at an all-time high because of an unprecedented decade of mild winters," Kreil said. "We've jacked up the numbers of licenses to meet our management goals and get the population back in check."

Woody Woodward, an owner of Gun and Reel Sports Inc. in Jamestown, has been seeing more deer.

"There sure are a lot of deer around, and a lot of dead ones on the road," he said.

Woodward said the week before the opener is among the busiest times of the year at his business. The store opens an hour earlier on the opening day of deer season.

"Most deer hunters are good customers, but they wait to last minute - more so than bird hunters," Woodward said.

Deer hunters usually are lined up at the store before it opens, "but by noon, you can shoot a cannon through here and not hit anybody," Woodward said.

Last year hunters - including those with bows and muzzleloaders - killed more than 100,000 deer in North Dakota, besting the previous record of 99,600 set in 2005. The success rate was pegged at about 77 percent, Kreil said.

Wildlife officials are hoping hunters best last year's record harvest by about 10,000 deer, he said.

Roger Johnson, a Game and Fish big game biologist in Devils Lake, said hunters are happy with the number of deer in North Dakota this year, and they could see success rates of more than 80 percent in fields without row crops.

"When sunflowers and corn don't get harvested, it makes for better hiding," Johnson said.

Kreil said the number of deer licenses issued in 1976 was about 40,000, and has increased since.

Opening weekend is when the bulk of hunters go afield, Kreil said. Deer are North Dakota's most sought-after game, followed by pheasants, he said.

"I expect 70,000 to 80,000 people out chasing deer around this weekend," Kreil said. "I think there will be a lot fewer deer around on Monday."


KENTUCKY NEWS: EHD Outbreak Over--4000 Dead Deer

This year’s outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in deer appears to be over.

Killing frosts of the past week have eliminated most of the midges (gnats) which carry the disease. Biologists with the Department have not received new reports of deer deaths associated with the disease in several days, said Tina Brunjes, the department’s big game coordinator.

Officials have documented more than 4,000 deer deaths from the disease. “There’s no way to put an actual number on the deer that have died as a result of EHD,” Brunjes said. “However, hunters have taken more than 18,000 deer this season, which is around average at this point of the season.”

The disease, while fatal to deer, cannot be transferred to humans. Eating the meat of deer that appear to be healthy poses no risk to humans even if the deer is infected with hemorrhagic disease.

Hunters, however, should not eat animals that appeared emaciated or weak prior to harvest, due to the risk of secondary infections. Hemorrhagic disease can cause large abscesses to form in the body cavity, muscle tissue or under the skin. These abscesses render the meat inedible.

Modern gun season for deer, which opens statewide Nov. 10, will provide the best indication of the severity of the outbreak. Most deer are taken during the modern gun season. If the numbers are down considerably, that will provide biologists a better idea of the size of the state’s existing deer herd.

“We will continue to track harvest throughout the modern gun season in an effort to gauge the total impact of EHD,” said Wildlife Division Director Karen Alexy. “Right now, there’s no way to estimate the number of deer that have died from EHD.”

Officials in several surrounding states reported similar outbreaks this year.

Department officials will evaluate total deer numbers and recommend any changes to deer zones in 2008, if needed, at the March meeting of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission. Prior to the outbreak, Kentucky’s deer herd numbered nearly a million.

Brunjes noted that deer are prolific breeders. Even if the disease hit a local area hard this year, she said, the number of deer in the area will likely rebound within two years because of reproduction and animals moving in from other areas.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

OPINION: Sport Hunting Losing Efficacy

The state's annual November deer hunt, which is the primary method that the Department of Natural Resources uses to reduce the number of deer in the state, begins in another 10 days.

But in recent years, the DNR and many observers have realized that the hunt is not reducing deer populations adequately.

Tom Givnish, Henry Allan Gleason professor of Botany at UW-Madison and a member of the Chronic Wasting Disease Stakeholders Advisory Committee established by the DNR, says he is concerned that recreational hunting can no longer control the deer herd in Wisconsin.

A native of Pennsylvania who previously taught at Harvard before coming to UW 27 years ago, Givnish says that deer densities are much higher than they should be and as a consequence researchers have documented adverse effects on natural communities.

Deer are hindering the establishment of several tree species, such as yellow birch and hemlock, and driving to local extinction dozens of herbaceous species and shrubs.

"It is clear that our forests are much less diverse now than they were 50 years ago," Givnish said.

Because people have eliminated predators, such as wolves and bears, in southern Wisconsin, society relies on hunters to control deer densities.

"There is a social contract between hunters and the rest of society, because deer are owned by the state for all of us," Givnish said. "Hunters are allowed to harvest deer and in exchange the expectation is they will help manage deer so they don't have an adverse impact on the ecosystem. That hasn't worked out in recent decades in Wisconsin or in the eastern U.S."

Givnish points out that this wasn't always the case, as toward the end of the 19th Century people virtually drove deer to extinction in many areas. Conservationists realized that harvest restrictions were necessary.

Those restrictions, including shortening seasons and limiting the way deer could be hunted, worked and populations increased.

"But today we find ourselves hip-deep with deer and they are causing enormous ecological damage, interfering with tree reproduction, eliminating shrubs, there are high numbers of car/deer accidents affecting insurance rates, and they are a reservoir for Lyme disease," Givnish said.

He attributes this to the fact that the country has had a cultural change since the 1930s. The country is richer so the need for wild meat is not as great, and cultural changes mean that older hunters haven't convinced their youngsters to take up hunting.

"The DNR and the hunters have failed to control the deer herd," he said. "Deer have a very high rate of reproduction, sometimes dropping two fawns in their first year. When the deer population and density is high with a limited number of hunters, they escape control, which has happened."

The DNR and hunters are hunting with regulations and an "ethos" that were right in the 1930s and '40s, but are not the right thing now, he said.
"Back then it was right that you don't kill female deer and fawns, they were the future of the herd," he said. "But today the only way to control the deer herd is to shoot female and young deer. It is paradoxical that a system that involves forests, deer and humans, the intelligent part of that system is lagging in response."
In fairness, he notes that the regulations are changing, but there is resistance to things such as the Earn-a-Buck rule that requires hunters to shoot an antlerless deer before they can shoot a buck.

Rather than the traditional views on regulations and deer management, he believes there must be a place for minority and rational views.
Despite the DNR's best intentions, deer populations have not been reduced. But he said the DNR operates under the old rules and ethos, and hunters are currently not able to reduce damage to the environment.

"I would recommend reexamining some of the assumptions behind hunting regulations," he said. "I would greatly lengthen the hunting season, and in some extreme areas we should consider hunting with dogs, using bait, and hunting at night."
There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits that and the situation has changed from decades ago.

Givnish, who is not a hunter but says that he is not an animal rightist and has no problems with hunting and thinks it is wonderful because it gets people outdoors, said he does not know how to recruit more hunters but so far those efforts have not brought out a substantial increase in hunter numbers.

He thinks that many people believe that ethics are timeless, but he believes current
ethics were good under different circumstances. They are learned and they can change with circumstances.

The solution, Givnish says, is to either increase the number of hunters or to increase the efficiency of the hunt.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

MISSOURI/KANSAS NEWS: City Parks Open to Hunting This Year

Kansas City parks traditionally are havens for deer searching for rich foliage, but officials again this year will allow hunters into some parks to reduce the wildlife population.

The parks that will be open for special archery deer hunting are Tiffany Springs Park, Riverfront Park, Hodge Park and Jerry Smith Park.

The hunting will be in wooded areas away from trails and picnic areas frequently used by the public, said Debra Burns, a wildlife management supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Department officials are coordinating the hunts with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department.

Officials are trying to reduce deer herds at urban parks to make highways safer from deer-vehicle collisions and to protect park habitat from damage caused by too many deer. Similar bow hunts for deer have been conducted for several years at other state, city and county parks in the area.

“In areas where we’ve had them for 12 years, we do see a decrease in the deer herd,” Burns said.

In hunts last year at Tiffany Springs and Riverfront parks, there were no problems as archers killed more than 40 deer.

Registration for this fall’s hunt is closed and the slots are full, Burns said. There will be 105 hunters. All will use tree stands and they will be shooting toward the ground at close range for safety.

Park officials say they hope the hunts also will discourage illegal firearms hunting in remote areas.


•Riverfront Park, now through Nov. 25.

•Hodge Park, Saturday through Nov. 25.

•Jerry Smith Park, Saturday through Dec. 9.

•Tiffany Springs Park, Nov. 24 through Dec. 9.


Friday, November 02, 2007

MINNESOTA NEWS: 34 State Parks Open to Deer Hunting in 2007

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued a reminder that deer hunts will take place this fall in 34 state parks for those who have received special deer hunt permits.

Most parks holding a special hunt will remain open to the public. However, DNR officials strongly suggest visitors wear blaze orange remain within the designated no hunting areas.

For safety reasons, public use of some parks will be restricted.

Restrictions for parks in southern Minnesota

At Beaver Creek Valley State Park in Houston County and Frontenac State Park in Goodhue County, only the campgrounds are open to the public. All other areas of these parks are available to hunters only.

Due to the extensive area open to hunting at Lake Shetek State Park, the public is encouraged to visit a neighboring park such as Camden, Split Rock Creek or Kilen Woods instead, during the hunt scheduled for Dec. 1-2.

Visitors who plan to use the parks during the special hunt event should stop at the office when they arrive to pick up a map of the no-hunting zones in the park and remember to wear blaze orange. Maps of these zones will also be posted in various locations in the park.

Visitors might also consider choosing an alternate park nearby for recreation if a special hunt is being conducted at the park they had planned to visit.

For information, people may contact the park, or the DNR Information Center at (651) 297-6157 or (888) 646-6367.

State parks open to hunters only during the special deer hunt

Crow Wing State Park (Nov. 30 - Dec. 2), Nerstrand Big Woods (Nov. 24-25), St. Croix State Park (Nov. 10-13).

Whitewater State Park (Nov. 17-19), Wild River State Park (Nov. 3-6) (Accessible elevated platform for disabled hunters available); William O'Brien State Park (Nov. 3-4).

State parks that will remain open to the public during the special deer hunt

Blue Mounds State Park (Nov. 3-4), Buffalo River State Park (Nov. 3-4),

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Nov. 17-19, Nov. 23-25).

Glacial Lakes State Park (Nov. 10-13), Great River Bluffs State Park (Nov. 17-19, Nov. 23-25), Hayes Lake State Park (Nov. 3-18).

Itasca State Park (Nov. 3-11), Lake Bemidji State Park (Nov. 3-6), Lake Bronson State Park (Nov. 3-11).

Lake Carlos State Park (Nov. 3-6), Lake Louise State Park (Nov. 24-25), Lake Shetek State Park (Dec. 1-2).

Maplewood State Park (Nov. 3-11), Myre-Big Island (Nov. 24-25), Scenic State Park (Nov. 3-18), Zippel Bay State Park (Nov. 3-18).

State parks where access is limited during special hunt

Beaver Creek Valley State Park (Nov. 3-4), Frontenac State Park (Nov. 17-19), Gooseberry Falls State Park (Nov. 3-18).

Interstate State Park (Nov. 29-Dec. 2), Jay Cooke State Park (Nov. 24-28), Judge Magney State Park (Nov. 3-18).

Savanna Portage State Park (Nov. 10-18), Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Nov. 3-18), Tettegouche State Park (Nov. 3-18).

For information, call the DNR Information Center or visit the state park pages at


Friday, October 12, 2007

RESEARCH NEWS: Suburban Deer Reduction Alone Does Not Affect Lyme Disease Incidence

The short version.

Researchers monitored the abundance of deer ticks and and the Lyme disease incidence rate after the reduction of of white-tailed deer in a suburban residential area. They wanted to determine whether there was a measurable decrease in the abundance of ticks due to deer removal and whether the reduction in ticks resulted in a reduction in the incidence of Lyme Disease within the human population.

After three seasons, the estimated deer population was reduced by 46.7%, from the 2002 postfawning estimate of 2,899 deer (46 deer per km^2) to a 2005 estimate of 1,540 deer (24 deer per km^2).

There was no effect of the deer culling program on numbers of deer ticks in the culling areas, and the overall numbers of host-seeking ticks in the culling areas seemed to increase in the second year of the program.

The Lyme disease incidence rate showed no clear trend among years, and it did not seem to change with declining deer density.

The researcher conclude that deer reduction is unlikely to be a primary means of tick control by itself. However, in concert with other tick control interventions, deer culling efforts could be one prong of a strategy to reduce tick numbers and Lyme Disease incidence.

source: R. Jordan et al. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY 44 (5): 752-757 SEP 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

RESEARCH NEWS: Deer-Vehicle Colisions Not Just a North American Problem

Motorists are being asked to slow down and look out for deer on the roads this autumn as a new report* reveals the terrible number hurt and killed by vehicles.

The report highlights the increasing number of deer killed and maimed on our roads each year and has brought to light the following facts which should convince people driving on country roads to take their foot off the gas:
As many as 60,000 deer are thought to be hit by cars a year in England · Thousands of deer are not killed outright and suffer greatly from their injuries, making collisions probably the most significant welfare issue for wild deer · It is estimated that people are hurt in 700 of these accidents a year, and up to 15 drivers or passengers killed · These accidents damage some 11,000 vehicles, causing some £14million of damage in England. This estimate rises to £17million if commercial vehicles are included · Vehicles are thought to kill as much as 13 per cent of the fallow deer population each year.

The period between October and January sees a peak in collisions between deer and cars as many deer are rutting and are most likely to be on the move. Shortening days also mean that peak traffic flows may coincide with deer movements at dawn and dusk, adding to the danger of road traffic accidents.

RSPCA wildlife scientist Colin Booty said: "This report shows the sheer number of deer killed or maimed on our roads every year. These accidents are not only deadly for deer but can be extremely dangerous for drivers and passengers too.

"Motorists can help to reduce the death-toll by slowing down when they see warning signs and being ready to brake if they see deer, especially at dusk or dawn.

"It is especially important at this time of year when deer are rutting and are on the move and are likely to wander onto the roads."

The number of calls the RSPCA receives about deer involved in road traffic accidents is increasing. The Society took 2,862 calls last year compared to 1,754 in 2000.

Accident blackspots revealed in the report:

The A22 near the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex is the most dangerous road in the country for deer, with more than 10 collisions a year per kilometre of road, while Hampshire has the highest number of deer collisions of any county.

The report reveals a number of other accident blackspots listed below:
Cannock Chase in Staffordshire
Dinmore Hill in Herefordshire
Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire
The Mendips in Somerset
Halden Hill in Devon
The New Forest in Hampshire
the Southampton to Portsmouth area
Epping Forest in Essex
Ashridge Woods in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire · Thetford Forest in Norfolk.

The following roads have the most accidents involving deer:
A14 which runs through Suffolk and Cambridgeshire · M3 which connects Southampton and London · A303 which runs between Hampshire and Devon · A30 which runs between London and Cornwall · A11 which connects London and Norwich · M4 which links London with Wales · M27 in Hampshire · A34 between Salford and Winchester · A4136 near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire · A4146 in Buckinghamshire · B4506 in Bedfordshire · B1106 in Norfolk · B2188 in East Sussex · B2026 in Kent · B1393 in Essex.

Advice for drivers to reduce risk of deer vehicle collisions:

Please take note of deer warning signs - they are positioned only where animals are known to cross the road.
Peaks in deer-related traffic collisions occur from October through December and in May. The highest risk periods are from sunset to midnight followed by the hours shortly before and after sunrise. Be particularly vigilant at these times.
Be aware that further deer may well cross after the ones you have noticed, as they tend to congregate in herds.
After dark, do use full-beams when there is no opposing traffic. The headlight beam will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater driver reaction time. But when a deer or other animal is noted on the road, dim your headlights as animals startled by the full-beam may ‘freeze’ rather than leaving the road.
Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to a stop as far in front of the animals as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic.
Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police (who should be able to contact the local person best placed to assist with an injured deer at the roadside).

Notes to editors:

For pictures or more information on the figures contact the RSPCA Press Office by calling 0300 123 0244. (Anyone who experiences any difficulties using this number can call 0870 754 0244.) · The report called the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project was produced by The Deer Initiative, of which the RSPCA is a member. The RSPCA was the biggest contributors of data to the project on deer vehicle collisions in England and Wales.
Visit for more information, or to log any sightings of deer collisions to help identify any accident blackspots.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 0870 0555500 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: Website:


Friday, September 28, 2007

WISCONSIN NEWS: DNR Says "Too Many Deer" at Hixon Forest

Ron Lichtie doesn’t need to conduct a head count to know the deer population around Hixon Forest is well above what the area can support. The high browsing lines, shrinking plant diversity, and high number of deer versus car collisions are clear signs, said the wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

Unchecked, the overabundance of deer will only worsen, he said, putting people, the ecosystem and deer themselves at risk.

Lichtie has presented that assessment, along with data from a 2007 aerial survey of the forest, to the La Crosse Board of Parks Commissioners.

“I truly believe that we have maybe a decade to get the deer population under control before we will be suffering ecological damage that may not be repaired,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The board now will form a committee to consider control methods, lethal and non-lethal.

“It will be very controversial,” said commission member Dorothy Lenard said. “We realize that.”

Wisconsin has an estimated 1.6 million to 1.8 million deer, of which about 500,000 are taken through hunting each year.

It’s not a new problem, or a unique one, said Lichtie. But he’s been called a “bloodthirsty killer” when he’s raised the issue of control in the past.

“I didn’t get into this profession because I hate deer,” he said. “Some people just don’t want to look at the science that’s out there.”

Hixon Forest should have 10 deer per square mile that winter there, Lichtie said. But an estimated 84 to 118 deer per square mile can be found in one section of the forest, according to the report.

Sooner rather than later, the community has to determine what level is acceptable, he said.

Birth control is not permitted in the state because it carries the risk of unintentionally passing the drug on to other wildlife, he said.

Wisconsin also prohibits relocating deer to avoid potentially introducing health problems, such as chronic wasting disease, into other areas.

Lethal control measures could include regular season hunting, special hunts, sharpshooters and trapping and euthanizing the deer.

In 2006, La Crosse County authorized a managed hunt with disabled hunters on Goose Island.

“Everyone’s just afraid to go that direction,” Lenard said. “Nobody wants to kill animals, but they’re actually destroying Hixon Forest, and we don’t want to lose that, either.”

A 2004 ecological inventory of the 800-acre forest found some of the most common plant species absent from some areas.

Forest experts estimated up to 60 plant species already may have been lost to deer browsing, Lichtie said.

Without intervention, the forest will continue to degenerate and biodiversity will suffer, he said, adding it can take decades for the forest to naturally regenerate.

The deer can become susceptible to starvation or disease and the population could collapse altogether, Lichtie said. “We have a responsibility to do something about that,” he said.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

CONNECTICUT NEWS: Lyme Disease Panel Recommends Deer Reduction

Hoping to curtail the spread of Lyme disease, the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials — spurred on by Redding’s first selectman — is urging the governor to set policies to reduce the state’s deer population.

First Selectman Natalie Ketcham, a former council chairman, drafted a letter to Gov. M Jodi Rell asking her to bring together the Department of Public Health (DPH) with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to come up with a plan to address the deer overpopulation problem. Deer ticks, which commonly carry Lyme disease, are spread by the deer that wander through the state’s woodlands.

Citing the aggressive tactics taken to control the mosquito population to stop the spread of West Nile virus, Ms. Ketcham said the state should take similarly strong steps to combat Lyme disease.

“While I think there have been maybe five confirmed cases of West Nile in the past two years, recent reports have Lyme disease affecting more than 60,000 residents annually in Connecticut. So I thought that perhaps we should request that the governor bring her state agencies together to draft a plan to attack and, hopefully, eliminate Lyme disease from the state,” said Ms. Ketcham.

The disease has severe short-term and long-term consequences for those who contract it. Lyme disease can cause flu-like symptoms including fatigue, headache, fever and achy muscles and joints, according to the state Department of Public Health’s Web site. Untreated, it can cause arthritis, neurologic problems and heart problems.

Lyme disease, along with ehrlichiosis and babesiosis, which are similar tick-borne infections, are the dominant reportable diseases found in the town every year, said Doug Hartline, Redding’s health director.

In 2006, Redding sent 51 ticks to the state’s Agricultural Experiment Station for testing. Of those, 22 were tested and eight were positive for Lyme — a rate of 36.4%, according to state entomologist Dr. Kirby Stafford, who was interviewed by The Pilot earlier this year.

Statewide 4,855 deer ticks were sent in for testing last year. Of those, some 2,314 were tested and 520 carried Lyme disease.

“That’s a rate of about 22%,” said Dr. Stafford.

The town health department has been disseminating literature to educate homeowners about strategies they can use to groom their properties in a manner that is less enticing to deer.

“Residents should keep their lawns cut low and take away any of the leaf litter. Creating a wood chip perimeter around your yard area also helps to lessen the quantity of ticks on your property,” said Mr. Hartline.

Deer aren’t the only carriers of ticks, however. Mice and chipmunks that thrive in stone walls and wood piles are also known to spread ticks. To keep their numbers down, Mr. Hartline suggests eliminating bird feeders and keeping wood piles away from the house.

Still, deer are the major tick carriers and the towns in the state that have successfully controlled the herds have also quelled the spread of the disease.

Deer management alliance

The Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, a consortium of 15 Fairfield County towns, is working to promote regional deer management. The group encourages towns to participate and become informed about the problems of excess deer and the methods commonly used to reduce deer population.

“We’re trying to inform people about the communities that have successfully reduced their deer population and have consequently successfully stopped Lyme disease,” said Georgina Scholl, Redding’s representative on the alliance.

Mumford Cove and Groton Long Point, communities located along the Connecticut coast, are examples of towns that have eliminated the Lyme disease problem through controlled hunts. Their methods are documented in the state DEP’s deer management brochure.

The alliance’s main goal is educate the public about the benefits of controlling the deer herd. The Housatonic Valley Council says that a “lack of factual information in the public realm is handicapping” the effort.

The state DEP has been unable to make any “real inroads” in keeping down the deer numbers, “due to the lack of public understanding of the need to reduce the deer herd significantly,” the Housatonic Valley council says in the letter to the governor.

“Public attitudes to our hunters are still focused on sport and they have yet to see hunters as our partners in the battle against Lyme disease and woodland destruction,” it continues.

The dilemma, the council members agree, is that neither the DPH nor the DEP regards the deer herd and the Lyme disease problem as under their jurisdiction.

“The Department of Public Health recognizes that this is a public health threat, but feels that because it’s caused by a tick that is borne by deer, it more an issue for the DEP. And the DEP has taken the position that it’s really a public health threat and therefore in the province of Department of Public Health,” said Ms. Ketcham. “With this letter, we’re asking the governor to bring the two commissions together to formulate a plan.”

The letter was unanimously approved by the council last Friday and is set to be sent to the governor this week once the needed signatures are collected.

Ms. Ketcham has also sent the letter to the council’s counterpart, the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency in lower Fairfield County.

Residents interested in obtaining more information about deer control may pick up the DEP’s deer management brochure, which is available at the health department, town hall, and the Mark Twain Library.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Ed. note: It seems likely that climate change will continue to push EHD north, and these types of outbreaks should become increasingly common in the next 10-15 years.

Deer continue to fall victim to an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in some parts of the state, and even the animals that are not killed are likely to suffer permanent damage if infected by the virus.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife yesterday released an update on the EHD breakout first publicized two weeks ago, about two weeks after biologists began studying reports of sick and dying deer.

The first outbreak, investigated Sept. 7, involved 15 dead deer discovered by hunters in Hillsborough Township. Yesterday, Fish and Wildlife reported eight more dead deer were found during a Sept. 12 search along Royce Brook, described as being the main drainage area for the 500-acre tract where the first group was found.

Seven days later, scientists confirmed the deer died from EHD, a nasty illness that causes high fevers and hemorrhages in the mouths, noses and eyes and can kill a deer in less than 10 days. The virus is spread by small, biting flies called midges. It does not affect humans, but hunters should not consider eating meat from any deer that appears unhealthy.

Fish and Wildlife said the Sept. 19 diagnosis showed the deer died from the serotype 2 EHD virus. "This is the first time serotype 2 EHD has been found in New Jersey," it said.

All prior New Jersey outbreaks of EHD -- in 1955 in the Passaic River drainage area, in 1975 in the Paulinskill and Pequest River drainage areas and in 1999 in the Salem and Rancocas River drainages -- were caused by the serotype 1 EHD virus.

"Serotype 2 is commonly isolated from deer in Southern Florida, Texas and Mexico," said the division. It said deer from those areas seem to have developed a resistance to type 2 which is actually a bit less virulent than type 1.

The Sept. 12 discovery was not the last. Five days later, hunters found 12 dead deer along Cumberland County's Manantico River. Biologists investigating the scene found two additional deer carcasses and heard reports of six others in Pittsgrove Township.

On Sunday, canoeists reported seeing about 15 dead deer on the Mullica River in Wharton State Park near Hammonton and Shamong. "The carcasses were reportedly found by smell," noted Fish and Wildlife, which said the animals are now being tested for EHD.

Biologists believe the midges that are causing EHD are hatching from drying mud flats, a situation exacerbated by the current spell of hot and dry weather. New Jersey's deer are not alone in dealing with the disease this year as outbreaks are being reported in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, New York and elsewhere.

It will take a good frost to kill the insects that are spreading the virus. Meanwhile, anybody coming across sick or dead deer should call Fish and Wildlife's Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics at (908) 735-6398.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Deer Reduction Continues at Gettysburg

The National Park Service will pursue a less vigorous deer hunt this year at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site than in previous years, thanks to what it says is the success of the program.

Last year's deer survey showed that the Park Service achieved its goal of reducing the herd's density to 25 deer per square mile, said park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

Lawhon said the Park Service, biologists, and the state concluded in 1995 - when the deer survey estimated that the park had 333 deer per square mile - that the park's landscape could support 25 deer per square mile.

But the deer have no natural predators on or near park land, and their numbers would grow without management, Lawhon said.

She said the Park Service aims to shoot 115 deer between October and March, down from 200 in 2004, when the park had 31 deer per square mile.

Those goals decreased with the deer's density. The park estimated 26 deer per square mile in 2005, Lawhon said.

Lawhon estimated that this year's program would cost about $5,948, excluding man hours, which is what it cost last year.

Lawhon said thinning the herd benefits the park.

"The intense browsing by deer was threatening the future of the wood lots because there were very few younger trees that managed to live or thrive," Lawhon said.

Lawhon said the deer also threatened the Park Service's agricultural program, where local farmers maintain farm fields that are part of the park.

"We found that there was so much damage to the crops that it was becoming less and less worthwhile for the farmer to lease the field," Lawhon said.

Lawhon said without local farmers cultivating the fields, the park would lose its 1863 agricultural appearance and make it harder for visitors to understand the landscape.

The Park Service also had a high number of car accidents involving deer when the animals roamed the park in large numbers, Lawhon said.

Lawhon said park employees shoot only antlerless deer to leave those with antlers for hunters on nearby land.

She stressed that this is not a public hunting opportunity. Only qualified federal employees are allowed to shoot deer on national park land in the herd-reducing effort.

The Park Service pays to have the deer butchered, and donates the meat to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg, Lawhon said.

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Unified Sportsmen of PA Sues Game Commission (Again)

For the second time in two years, the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit it hopes will derail the Game Commission's controversial deer-management plan and allow the state's whitetail population to expand.

Unified's suit, filed Sept. 7 at Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, says the commission used inadequate scientific data in determining the number of licenses available to hunt antlerless deer. Unified also is asking the court to issue an injunction that would halt all antlerless deer hunting on State Game Lands and State Forests until the commission gathers additional data on deer populations and reproductive success.

''The commission readily acknowledges they do not know how many deer exist in Pennsylvania and have resorted to subjective and ambiguous evaluations to determine deer densities rather than sound, scientific and numerical data,'' Unified Chairman Gregory Levengood of Boyertown said in a news release. ''Such unconventional and careless decision making has resulted in a dramatic, and quite possibly an unsustainable, decline of our public land deer herd.''

Commission officials dismissed Unified's suit as baseless and harmful to sportsmen.

''Unified once again is attempting to waste the Game Commission's limited resources on frivolous lawsuits that have no merit,'' Joseph J. Neville, director of the agency's Bureau of Information and Education, said in a prepared statement.

''Such a lawsuit, filed at this late date, only serves to create confusion for hunters looking forward to hunting seasons. This lawsuit also will result in a diversion of money and staff time that could be better spent managing the state's wildlife resources.''

Unified attorney Charles B. Haws of Reading said the commission has until Oct. 10 to file its initial response with the court. No hearings have been scheduled, and despite Unified's request for an injunction to block doe hunting on public land, Haws said it is unlikely the suit will have any short-term impact on deer-hunting activity.

''There would have to be a hearing regarding the merits of our complaint before the court could issue an injunction,'' Haws said. ''That could take a year. It could take less. It could take more. It depends on how vigorous the debate is between the parties.''

The lawsuit signals the start of a new round in an ongoing battle between the commission and Unified, a statewide hunting organization that says it represents more than 30,000 members.

In recent years, Unified has been the most vocal critic of the commission's deer program, and Unified filed a similar lawsuit against the agency in 2005. Although the legal arguments in that were eventually rejected by a judge, the court ruled that Unified and other sportsmen's groups have legal standing to challenge commission policies.

Commission biologists say the deer-management program is designed to balance white-tail populations with available habitat to limit the damage caused by deer eating small trees, agricultural crops and landscaping. Officials say their goals are to produce healthy deer and healthy habitat while also reducing the number of deer-human conflicts.

But in its lawsuit, Unified alleges the management program relies too much on ''qualitative'' data such as the results of forest regeneration surveys and not enough on ''quantitative'' data such as deer densities and reproductive success.

Therefore, Unified says, the agency does not have sufficient data to make credible deer-management decisions, and as such, there is no legitimate basis for the agency's decision to allocate 865,000 general antlerless licenses for the 2007-08 hunting season, plus an additional 19,136 licenses provided to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources specifically for State Parks and State Forests under the Deer Management Assistance Program.

The suit alleges that because the commission doesn't have enough data, the agency has abused its discretion in making arbitrary antlerless license decisions and violated its legally mandated duty to promote Pennsylvania's hunting heritage.

''By improperly authorizing the killing of too many antlerless deer, [the commission] has improperly reduced the Pennsylvania deer herd below its natural and appropriate population and, as a result, [the commission] has failed to provide an adequate opportunity for the members of USP to hunt deer,'' the suit states.

Unified is asking the court to halt all antlerless deer hunting on State Game Lands and State Forests and order the commission to gather comprehensive, statewide data on deer reproduction and deer population densities.

Haws said Unified is not seeking to halt antlerless deer hunting on private land because the group supports landowner rights and also believes most property owners do a good job of balancing deer numbers.

''If the [commission] would manage public land deer as well as private landowners manage the deer on their land, we wouldn't have any problems,'' Levengood wrote in an e-mail about the suit.

There are about 950,000 hunters in Pennsylvania, according to the commission's 2006 license sales data.


Monday, September 17, 2007

NEW JERSEY NEWS: State Cost-Sharing Deer Fence Construction for Farmers

ANDOVER — It is the eternal farmer question: How much can I afford to let the wildlife eat?

A few years ago, John Elwood decided the deer in his neighborhood had eaten enough.

Elwood, who owns Good Hand Farm on Brighton Road, applied to the state and got grant money to help him install a deer fence. Since then, he said the deer have been on a rigid diet, no more of his organic garden.

The state Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the 2007 deer fence program. If accepted, farmers can get fencing material and up to 30 percent of the cost of line posts needed for installation.

Deadline for applications is Oct. 7 and forms are available from local extension and soil conservation district offices. Further information is available through the Agriculture Department Web site, and click on "news releases" in the left column.

Unlike most fencing, which is about three to four feet high and meant to keep livestock in, wildlife fencing comes in rolls up to eight feet tall and is woven, with smaller spaces near the bottom, meant to keep out small wildlife, such as rabbits, woodchucks and skunks. In most installations, the woven wire is topped by two or three single strands of wire to keep out deer, which can leap more than eight feet high.

The fencing program was developed at Rutgers Cooperative Extension and is cosponsored by the Agriculture Department. This will be the third time the program will be offered and first year it will have a new/beginning farmer category.

In the first two years, about 150 farmers across the state received help with the fence.

According to Rutgers scientists, about 70 percent of crop loss in the state can be blamed on deer with a dollar loss estimated at between $5 million and $10 million each year.

Among the eligibility requirements are that a farmer must document a minimum of $40,000 in agricultural sales or $20,000 in sales of organic products ($5,000 for new/beginner farmer); have not participated in the previous fence program; be the owner of the land or have documented proof of renting preserved farmland; and attend a mandatory fence workshop.

If properly installed, a deer fence will last up to 30 years and the cost can be amortized on the farmer's tax returns.

Elwood chose to enclose about 10 acres of his farm, which sits smack in the middle of excellent deer country. That plot contains the organic garden where he grows produce for sale. "You can't afford to enclose too much of an area," he said. "For some crops, such as hay and corn, you just have to accept that the deer will eat some."

That decision, he said, is an economic one. Some crops, such as hay, have a lower return per acre while an organic garden has a much higher return. Unfenced at his farm is a 10-acre pasture for horses and a 22-acre hay field.

Elwood said a neighbor, Bob Cahill, also has a deer fence for protection, but his crop is the wide variety of plants he grows for his landscaping business.

"The system is entirely effective," he said, then laughed, "except when the owner gets stupid and leaves the gate open."


NEW ZEALAND NEWS: 200 Fallow Deer Illegally Released

Forest and Bird are concerned about irresponsible behaviour by what they call an extremist element in the hunting community. Spokesman Kevin Hackwell says 200 fallow deer were recently trucked to Taranaki and illegally released, risking the spread of bovine TB on farms in the area.

He says the release of the deer could have a devastating effect on native forest in the nearby Wanganui National Park. Groups of hunters have also recently threatened to kill kiwi in the Tongariro Forest, and planted 1080 poison in public parks near Wellington, killing a pet dog.

Kevin Hackwell says these incidents show a minority of hunters are prepared to put their own interests before all else. He says everyday hunters would likely be appalled by their actions.


MISSOURI NEWS: More Deer in the Burbs

TOWN AND COUNTRY — As if on cue, the little white-speckled deer crept across a nearby lawn.

Don Meyer stood in his garden next to the hostas that had been nibbled to the ground. He peered through a chicken-wire fence searching for others in the battalion of Bambis that had feasted on his lilies and impatiens.

He knew they were out there.

"That's the fawn," he said, lowering his voice. "There should be two more."

It seemed an idyllic scene, one that has drawn people for years to this pastoral city of 10,894 residents — the towering oak trees, the rustle of squirrels scurrying across dead leaves, the early evening sun hitting the fawn's reddish coat.

But many residents, including Meyer, have a hard time mustering fondness for any deer, a graceful symbol of all that is good in pastoral suburbia. With the deer population surging, the animals are destroying prized gardens and flower beds and darting in front of SUVs.

Apparently, they can't take a hint, either.

Meyer has thrown yard tools at the deer, yelled at them, honked his car horn, anything to scare them off. But they just keep coming.

"They're too used to humans," Meyer said. "If I hear my wife blowing her horn in the morning, it means she can't get up the driveway because there's a deer."

Recently, some residents have urged city leaders to do something, such as allowing bow hunters to set up shop in backyards. Others want the animals netted and slaughtered.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends a deer population no higher than 25 per square mile. According to a 2004 head count, Town and Country had 68 deer per square mile.

Since then, the number of deer has likely grown significantly, said Tom Meister, a wildlife damage biologist with the Department of Conservation.

"The only population control is the automobile," he said.

The large residential lots in Town and Country offer deer more food sources and places to hide, Meister said. He also believes that a spring frost earlier this year may have killed vegetation, pushing deer to find food in people's yards.

In a region where new subdivisions continue to encroach on wildlife habitat, Meister has seen it all — the geese that invade playgrounds and ruin recess for schoolchildren, coyotes that snatch pets and beavers that dam up creeks.

"I've got a meeting with the city of Union about a muskrat problem," he said last week.

Controlling wildlife in an urban setting is often a series of experiments. Town and Country already tried once to control its deer population.

From 1999 to 2001, the city trapped and relocated 233 deer at a cost of roughly $360 per deer. The program was seen as a humane way to remove the deer. But a study of the first year of the program found that 20 percent had died from the stress of being captured.

The Department of Conservation ended the program over concerns about spreading disease.

Meanwhile, some Town and Country residents look enviously at cities such as Clarkson Valley, Chesterfield and Wildwood that allow controlled hunting. During the past four years, bow hunters have claimed more than 200 deer in Clarkson Valley, a city of 2,675 residents.

"We think it's worked," said Mayor Scott Douglas, noting that residents are reporting fewer problems.

But Meister says it's too early to say how effective urban hunting programs have been. Before hunting began, Clarkson Valley had a deer population of about 85 per square mile. The Department of Conservation has yet to conduct another deer count.

Not everyone in Town and Country agrees the deer are a problem.

"I think we are equally divided on the issue," said Bruni Perez, a member of the Town and Country Conservation Commission. "The deer come and go through my property, and I've been able to make it work. We co-exist peacefully."

If residents have problems with deer eating their vegetation, they should consider replacing it with plants the deer dislike, such as daffodils and peonies, Perez said.

Bill Kuehling, an alderman and chairman of the city's Conservation Commission, doesn't believe hunting is the answer.

"Who would we allow to hunt and how would that be decided?" he said. "I don't think the city is going to be in the business of giving hunting tests."

Instead he supports the city running a captive bolting program. That's where the deer are captured in traps and killed with a device that shoots a bolt into their brains, just like at a slaughterhouse.

It has been done in Town and Country before.

Joseph Williamson, a retired doctor, received a permit from the Department of Conservation a few years ago to trap and bolt deer in his yard.

"We had tried every repellent," he said. "The main reason we wanted to move (here) was to garden. … They were eating everything."

Over a three-year period, Williamson trapped and killed 23 deer, which reduced the amount of damage. But after that, the trap failed to net a deer for two straight years, and Williamson didn't renew his permit.

Now he has an electric fence surrounding his yard, but the deer still sneak in. This year, three does gave birth in his yard. "That's just on one acre," he said.

Four weeks ago, Meyer put up a chicken wire fence around his home, but wishes he could do more to protect what's left of his plants.

"If I had a .30-30 (rifle) and was allowed to shoot here," he said, "I wouldn't have any deer."


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: EHD Spreading, Hundreds of Deer Die

Early this week, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials confirmed the deaths of several hundred deer in four western Pennsylvania counties. Dr. Walter Cottrell, PGC's wildlife veterinarian, says test results confirm that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is the likely cause.

So far, the deer losses have been confined to Allegheny, Beaver, Greene and Washington counties. But EHD deaths are also occurring in numerous other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia.

EHD is contracted from "biting midges." In northern states, it usually kills the animal within 5 to 10 days. While it's not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms – excessive drooling, weakness and lack of fear of humans, they usually aren't suitable for consumption, says Cottrell.

"Hunters need to know that EHD cannot be contracted by humans," assures Cottrell. "It's also extremely rare, and highly unlikely, for this virus to cause clinical signs in cattle, sheep or goats." He also stresses that while some EHD symptoms are similar to those of chronic wasting disease, there's no relationship between EHD and CWD.

EHD can be amplified by anything that serves to congregate deer, such as supplemental feeding, he adds. "Such activities should be discontinued immediately."

While there's no evidence that humans can acquire the disease by field-dressing a deer, hunters are encouraged to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling or field-dressing an animal.

Tissue samples must be extracted within 24 hours of death for testing. That's why Cottrell urges reporting of losses to game offices as soon as possible.

The good news is that the EHD outbreak should end with the onset of colder weather, suggests Cottrell.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

(BAD) DISCOVERY NEWS: EHD Found in Ohio Cattle

Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) officials today confirmed the discovery of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) -- a common white-tailed deer virus -- in two Pike County cattle farms. This marks the state’s first-ever case of the virus in cattle, but officials stress that it poses no threat to human health or to the safety of meat consumption.

The ODA Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Reynoldsburg confirmed EHD in cattle populations in southern Ohio. The virus, which has been found in several surrounding states, occurs annually in deer herds across North America but is less common in cattle. In the Pike County cattle, officials identified a wild strain of the EHD virus, which will run its course much like the common flu. In deer, EHD is typically fatal.

Both cattle and deer contract EHD from gnats or biting flies. The virus cannot be spread from animal to animal or from animal to humans. Insects, however, can contract the virus from infected deer or cattle and pass it on to surrounding populations. This summer’s drought has forced animals and insects to common watering spots, increasing the spread of EHD. Typically, the onset of cold weather suppresses the disease as frosts drives insects into winter inactivity. Although test results have not confirmed the Southern Ohio deer population has been infected with EHD, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will continue to monitor and test deer in this area for the virus.

According to the University of Georgia's annual Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, EHD is the most common ailment affecting deer in the Eastern United States. Outbreaks of the disease have occurred in Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia this year. The most recent Ohio outbreaks occurred in 2003 in Clermont and Brown counties. The disease is common in portions of the northern Great Plains and the southeastern United States. It was first identified in 1955 in New Jersey.

Mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope are also susceptible to the disease.


Friday, August 31, 2007

MAINE NEWS: Combatting Deer Overpopulation in Maine Wildlife Park

Oh, deer!

The four whitetail bucks at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray may get vasectomies to keep the population in check, and not everyone is happy about it.

Friends of Maine Wildlife Park, a group of park volunteers, say sterilizing the bucks would permanently prevent the park's does from having fawns, meaning the public would not be able to watch does care for their young.

But Lisa Kane, who supervises the wildlife park for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said allowing overcrowding in the deer pen does not teach the public about responsible game management.

The park, which treats injured wildlife for eventual release, currently has 20 deer in a three-acre enclosure at the park. Animals that can't be released are kept to educate the public about wildlife.

"The mission of the park is to house unreleasable wildlife for the public to learn from and enjoy," Kane said. "The mission of the park is not to breed animals in captivity, particularly whitetail deer."

Joe Jones, president of the park friends group, agrees that 20 deer is excessive, but he worries about the impact of the change on the public.

"I am upset because people love to see the babies. That is the biggest reason they come to the park, to see the babies," Jones said. "If they had done the proper thing, reduced the herd early last spring, they wouldn't have any problems."

Kane said there will always be fawns at the park, because orphaned fawns end up there virtually every spring.

In the past, the park has tranquilized and moved year-old deer to the wild, but park officials say this is not the most humane approach to thinning the herd. Park Superintendent Curtis Johnson said the method is expensive, time-consuming and does not guarantee the survival of the released deer.

"Darting animals is not a precise science. It never produces the same result," Johnson said. "I think it is better to go with a one- time technique."

A vasectomy does not affect a buck's ability to go through typical mating behavior, a fall ritual that the public does not view because the park is closed.

Vasectomies are a common practice for controlling deer numbers at many zoos, said wildlife department veterinarian Russell Danner.

"It's one possibility. The Milwaukee County Zoo had used vasectomies for 10 years, and it worked quite successfully," Danner said.

If newborn fawns are needed to fill out the herd in the future, the sterilizations would not be a problem because a doe can produce two fawns, and a doe several months old is capable of breeding, he said.

The department is also considering a vaccine for does that would prevent their eggs from fertilizing. Danner said that vaccination would be needed once a year.

Although Kane said the cost of vasectomies was not prohibitive, Johnson and Danner both said it could be.

"There is the cost of the anesthesia, and if a surgeon is going to charge or volunteer their time," Danner said. "I want to find the person most skilled who is willing to do the job. That may or may not be me. My job is as a fish pathologist. Maybe there is someone more qualified."

Danner said the cost could be as low as $200 per animal, but Johnson said vasectomies for the four bucks could cost a few thousand dollars, depending on the fee.

The park's annual budget is about $500,000, and its revenue comes from gate fees and interest accrued from a dedicated fund, Johnson said.

Simply feeding the 20 whitetail deer in the park now costs several thousand dollars a year, because of the cost of grain that is used to supplement the browse that has been depleted by the herd, he said.

The decision on vasectomies has to be made by fall, Kane said.

Danner doesn't want to rush it.

"That wildlife park has been around for 50 years," he said.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

EASTERN US NEWS: Epizoontic Hemorrahagic Disease Outbreaks In Six States

Wildlife officials in at least six states, including Kentucky, report people are finding considerable numbers of dead deer. Apparently the deaths are being caused by an outbreak of a deadly virus.

The virus, called EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease), seems to occur every few years in white-tailed deer, and is not infectious to humans. However, it may mean hunters in some areas will see fewer deer during the upcoming hunting seasons.

People in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have been finding dead deer or animals in a weakened and emaciated state near water.


INDIANA - A viral disease is taking a deadly aim at Perry County’s population of white-tailed deer just weeks before the start of the fall-hunting season.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, often known as EHD, is normally not found in domestic animals and isn’t capable of being transmitted to humans. However, the disease often kills the white-tailed deer that it infects and could cause significant deer mortality in areas of southern Indiana.

“It’s likely that a good number of deer have been and will be lost,” said DNR deer management biologist Jim Mitchell.

Reports of dead deer have already been reported in several southern Indiana counties, including Perry and Spencer. State wildlife biologist Jeff Thompson, who is based at the Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area near Winslow and whose assigned area includes Perry County, said a deer from Pike County has tested positive for EHD. He is awaiting test results from another deer found south of Birdseye.

Thompson said the disease is likely present in other counties.

EHD is transmitted by small, biting flying insects called midges and is affecting deer earlier than in past years, including an outbreak in 2006 concentrated in west-central Indiana. While deer biologists do not expect the outbreak will cause significant deer mortality in areas where the disease hit last fall, due to residual immunity, the early start to this year’s outbreak may lead to significant numbers of deaths in southern Indiana.

Hot, dry conditions have boosted the midge population, making transmission of EHD more likely. “Last year was hot, but we also had a lot of rain,” Thompson said Wednesday. “This year we’ve had the heat but not much rain.”

EHD-infected animals have also been reported in Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. The disease is common in Southern states but occurs less frequently in the Midwest.

EHD causes severe flu-like symptoms in the deer, including a high fever and infected deer often seek water in streams or ponds in an effort to cool off. Dead deer are sometimes found in or near water.

Sick deer may lose their appetite and become uncoordinated. As they become weaker and dehydrated, their mouth and eye tissues sometimes show a rosy or bluish color.

Thompson said infected deer often die within a week, though some animals will recover.


PENNSYLVANIA - HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Walter Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, today announced that previously pending test results have confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is causing mortality in deer in an expanded area of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Additionally, Dr. Cottrell noted that two samples from dead deer in Beaver County have been submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia for testing, and residents with information about other dead deer found in this county and other counties surrounding the known positive cases are urged to contact the Southwest Region Office at 724- 238-9523.
Several hundred deer have been found dead in Allegheny, Beaver, Greene and Washington counties, and the deaths are consistent with EHD.
So far, EHD has been confirmed in Richhill, Gray, Morris, Aleppo, Jackson, Center, Waynesburg, Franklin, Wayne, Washington, Morgan, Whiteley, Greene and Jefferson townships in Greene County; and West Finley, East Finley, South Franklin, Morris Twps, Amwell, West Bethlehem, and Marianna in Washington County.
"While we want to continue to receive reports about dead deer in these townships, we also are very interested in hearing from those who find dead deer in other townships," Cottrell said. "As tissue samples must be extracted within 24 hours of death to be suitable for conducting tests, it is important that we hear from residents as soon as possible.


Monday, July 30, 2007

KANSAS NEWS: Small Park + No Predators = Same Old Problem

On an early summer night, dusk wanes and the sun slips red beneath the horizon of Shawnee Mission Park. A car rolls slowly along Ogg Road, away from the lake, and into the park stables.

The driver parks. He and his family step from their car and walk north to the edge of a pasture. There, as if on safari, they see them grazing:

Ten, 30, at least 50 white-tailed deer.

Like other gawkers, they had driven around the park’s circular road and seen small groups of deer here and there: five by the baseball fields; three nibbling at the edge of trees; four more walking elegantly along a ridge as silhouettes against the sky.

But here, dozens of does and fawns and bucks arch their brown necks toward the grass. The small boy runs excited down a slope toward the field. Alarmed, the deer jerk their heads up, pause, stare and then, flowing like a river, rush leaping and hopping into the woods with their white tails flashing like lanterns on waves.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the awestruck mother says. The stream of deer flees, trailed by their long shadows. “It’s beautiful.”

I t’s morning. Charles Wasson, fit and retired from the Navy, stands at the southern edge of the park, his feet sunk into the dark green lawn of his suburban home.

“We have an infestation!” he says. “That’s how I think about it. It’s an infestation.”

The hoofprints of deer dent his flowerbeds. He looks at his hostas, or what’s left of them. They’re gone, nibbled down to pale green stalks.

“I love them, too,” he says of the deer. From the window of his kitchen, he and his wife watch families of deer — sometimes with majestic bucks possessing eight, 10 and even 12 points on their antlers — loping from the woods along their backyard.

But there’s barely a neighbor in the maze of cul-de-sacs who hasn’t had to swerve around deer in the road. Occasionally, in the wee hours of the morning, people rise to retrieve their newspapers to confront deer just feet from their front doors: huge, curled up, eyes shut.

“They sleep on my front lawn,” Wasson says. “These are not small deer.”

G rant Evans, senior park manager for Shawnee Mission Park, hops in the cab of his truck and cruises along the park road.

He is in a quandary. The collision, he knows, is coming and has been for years — the collision between nature and suburbanization, between booming populations of deer in the park with no natural predators (“Except a Ford,” Evans says) and burgeoning populations of suburbanites.

He points through his windshield at the wall of trees along the border of the park.

“See that?” he says. “See the browse line?”

There it is: a long band — one giant dark stripe extending from the ground to six feet up in the branches — running the length of the trees. From the ground to the top of the line, the trees have been nibbled raw.

“You shouldn’t be able to see back through the trees like that,” Evans says.

It’s a sure sign of too many deer, as if he hasn’t already seen enough signs: White-tailed deer everywhere, like Canada geese, stand fearless in the middle of the road. Cars approach, and they barely flinch. Deer and car crashes are growing ever more frequent. Recently Evans discovered illegal tree stands put up by bow hunters in the depths of the park.

As a conservationist, Evans knows it’s not healthy. Not for the trees. Not for the deer who, should the herd continue to grow, risk starving in the winter. If a wasting disease or virus infiltrated a herd this size, he says, the resultant die-off of deer would be horrendous and ugly. (story continues)