Friday, June 29, 2007

ITALY NEWS: Deer Eats Marijuana, Frisky Behavior Ensues

Forest rangers have uncovered a marijuana farm on a mountaintop near Trento after residents commented on how the deer were 'unusually frisky' and leaping about uncharacteristically.

The rangers themselves had observed that the deer were out in the daytime which is unusual for the species. Further investigation yielded some pots and the remains of marijuana plants.

Police arrested two people in their twenties over the plantation, a factory worker and a university student. The charges may be dropped, however, as the deer consumed most of the evidence.


Monday, June 25, 2007

CALIFORNIA NEWS: Santa Rosa Island Ungulates Soon To Be Back in Crosshairs

WASHINGTON -- Santa Rosa Island is once again the subject of federal legislation as California Democrats have taken steps toward restoring the National Park Service’s ability to help remove deer and elk from the island.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the 2008 Interior Department spending bill Thursday and included a repeal of a section of law enacted late last year that restricted the park service.

Last fall, Rep. Duncal Hunter, D-Calif., specifically barred the park service from eliminating or nearly eliminating deer and elk from Santa Rosa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park.

He had previously proposed transferring control of the island to the Defense Department and designating it as a hunting refuge for disabled veterans. But he failed to gain support for that measure.

Hunter’s provision, attached to the 2007 defense bill, intentionally conflicted with a court settlement that mandated the park service share in the cost of removing the last of the deer and elk from the island.


Under that settlement, Vail & Vickers, which holds a private hunting permit for deer and elk on the island, must begin culling the herds in 2008 and eliminate them by 2011, with the park service’s help.

The park service, which acquired the island from the Vail and Vickers family in 1986, believes the non-native deer and elk wreak havoc on the island’s ecosystem. The 53,000-acre island is home to hundreds of plant and bird species, as well as the native island fox and marine life.

Private hunting forces the park to close 45,000 acres of the island to the public from August through December.

Duncan’s law made it illegal for the park service to comply with the terms of the court settlement.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lois Capps have been working to repeal the provision since it took effect in late 2006.

The panel’s spending bill would accomplish just that if it passes the full Senate and survives scrunity by the U.S. House later this year.

“To ensure that the public is able to enjoy year-round access to Santa Rosa and that the Park Service can protect the Island’s natural resources, it is critical that this ill-advised provision be repealed,” Capps said. “I am pleased that the Senate is moving quickly.”

Hunter’s office could not be reached for comment Friday.

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Another Philly Suburb Struggles With Deer

Bow-hunting is one of three deer-control recommendations that East Goshen supervisors will listen to Tuesday night when they hear a report from a township study group, but no decision on the issue is expected until after a public hearing in September.
James McRee, who heads the township deer-management committee, said the group will unveil its plan Tuesday after finalizing it at a meeting of its own Monday.

The recommendations are that East Goshen employ a private hunting club to thin the deer herd with bows and arrows, that property owners use "non-lethal" means such as building fences and spraying repellants on plants and that the township educate its residents about deer.

"We want to do all three" of the recommendations, McRee said during an interview last week.

At the Pennsylvania Game Commission, spokesman Jerry Feaser said a town can permit hunting only on town-owned land - just as a landowner can invite or forbid hunters only on his own property - during a state hunting season.

Feaser offered a standing statement which reads:

"Only the Pennsylvania Game Commission has been empowered to regulate hunting and trapping in the commonwealth. And, while municipalities have the authority to limit the discharge of firearms and bows for target practice or other non-hunting related activities within their municipalities' limits, local officials do not have the authority to impact this activity when it is being done as part of lawful hunting."

The statement noted that "the statewide archery and crossbow safety zone is 50 yards" from most buildings but the zone for all hunters "is 150 yards from any playground, school, nursery school or day-care center."

The question for township officials, Feaser said, is: "Are they trying to impact all township property or are they acting in their role as landowner of township-owned land?"

East Goshen zoning officer Mark Gordon in an interview pointed out that if hunting becomes an option, the township will regulate it only "on township-owned property."

In an interview earlier this year, township manager Rick Smith noted that in 2005, East Goshen allowed archers in tree stands "on three parcels of the township open space. I believe they took 10 or 11 deer over the course of the hunting season."

But an aerial survey on the night of March 25-26 counted 296 deer within East Goshen and 142 nearby.

In a parallel Chester County situation, Schuylkill Township has worked to persuade homeowners to allow hunting by a private group, the White Tail Associates Hunting Club.

Jim Morrison, head of Schuylkill's deer-management committee, said that since 1993 hunters have killed 996 deer, without killing the problem.

"Despite our best efforts over 14 years," Morrison said for an April article, "we still have got a fairly high deer population."

Ellen Sinclair, an elementary school teacher, was a no vote when the East Goshen deer-management committee recently voted 6-2 to make the three recommendations to the supervisors.

"A lot of my reservations for hunting in the township are safety," Sinclair said in an interview. "I don't think we have have a well-developed plan yet."