Thursday, February 07, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Plumstead Looking to Control Deer

Plumstead, like many communities in Central Bucks, is worried about a deer problem.

On Wednesday, the township's environmental advisory council heard two approaches to addressing the high number of whitetails, which are blamed for traffic accidents, slow reforestation, Lyme disease and crop damage.

Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, a Bucks Republican, touted a state law he helped pass last year that makes it easier for farmers and other property owners to cull deer from their properties year-round.

A Bedminster animal control group pushed a bow hunting program they successfully instituted in Upper Makefield this fall.

The overall message was one that has been heard in many local communities as deer populations have soared amid declining hunting and increasing land preservation.

“We're dealing with a major problem, an epidemic really,” said Tom Lurz, a member of the environmental board.

Before this year, the state allowed farmers to shoot deer throughout the year in order to keep down crop damage on their properties.

Now, farmers and other property owners in the region will be able to appoint two designees who can also bag deer on the land.

McIlhinney, the chairman of the Senate Games and Fisheries Committee, said the new rules recognize the high degree of property damage that is being delivered by deer in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Allowing a designee frees up property owners who may not have the time to address a widespread problem, he said.

Only property owners that can demonstrate deer damage to the state are allowed to participate.

The designees must have hunting licenses and be without game code violations, but they are allowed to shoot seven days a week, can bait and also use rifles, McIlhinney said.

The law change won praise from committee members, as did the archery program offered by Eccologix, which charged Upper Makefield $48,000 to coordinate bow hunting on properties in that township during the sport season.

Jody Maddock, Eccologix's wildlife management director, said the archers were able to bag at least 450 deer on 70 properties. Police, meanwhile, have tallied a 60 percent drop in the number of road-kill reports, he said.

EAC members said a next step for Plumstead may be to query large landowners to see if there is interest for a similar program in the township.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NEW JERSEY NEWS: South Mountain Cull Already Eliminates 37 Deer Per Square Mile

The Essex County-sponsored deer hunt at South Mountain Reservation today yielded 17 deer, bringing the total number of deer removed to 119, according to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

The take includes six deer -- four males and two females -- from the morning session and 11 more -- four males and seven females -- from the afternoon, DiVincenzo added.
The 119 deer have been culled from the 2,047-acre reservation since the hunt began Jan. 29. (Rooney notes: 119 deer removed from 2047 acres translates to a 37 deer per square mile reduction). Volunteer sharpshooters working from tree blinds have killed a total of 54 males and 65 female deer on the three days the hunt has been allowed.

The reservation stretches across Millburn, Maplewood, West Orange and South Orange, and the hunt is scheduled to take place on most Tuesdays and Thursdays until Feb. 28. DiVincenzo said the hunt would be suspended Tuesday because of Lincoln's birthday, and the park will be open.


WISCONSIN NEWS: Cull in Portage Underway

The total take in Portage's deer-kill program stands at 59, and there are plenty more of the animals still in the area, City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Tim Raimer said Tuesday.

Ten deer were killed Friday night, Raimer said, putting the total at 59 since hunters from Spring Green-based Wildlife Specialists started in late December.

Raimer said when hunters arrived at one of the sites Friday, there were a dozen deer standing near a bait pile. Last Friday was the first time hunters had been out since Jan. 11.

The program aims to control an overabundant deer population within city limits. Raimer said the program is having its intended results.

"The people that are against it are mad because there are less deer around. The people who are for it are happy because there are less deer around. The bottom line is, there are less deer around," he said.

The city is more than halfway to the 100 deer it has budgeted to kill. Wildlife Specialists charges $85 per kill at five baiting sites around the city.

When requested by the city, the company sends sharpshooters armed with high-powered rifles, silencers and night-vision equipment to sites in the city, including bait piles near the Parks and Recreation office at 806 Silver Lake Drive, near the Portage airport, and at Collipp-Worden and Woodridge parks.

Gunderson hill near the Rolling Hills Country Estates on the city's northeast side no longer is being hunted.

Raimer said he will discuss the program at tonight's Municipal Services & Utilities Committee meeting. It is not on the agenda, but Raimer gives a department update during the session. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

Common Council member Rick Dodd, chairman of the committee, said he has received almost entirely positive feedback on the program because people notice a difference, especially in the areas near Woodridge and Collipp-Worden parks and the park and rec office.

He said he supported the program because that's what feedback from residents dictated.
"I don't take any personal stock in it right now because they're not bothering my property and I haven't hit any" in my car, he said.

The program restarted in the city after citizens complained that deer were aggressively moving inward into the city limits on private property, destroying vegetation. They also argued that it was a public safety issue for drivers as well as a public-health issue because deer tend to help propagate Lyme disease.

A similar program ran in the city from 1999 to 2002.


OHIO NEWS: Gahanna Culling Operation Enters 15th Year

Gahanna residents harvested 29 deer in Gahanna parks from Sept. 29, 2007, to Feb. 3 and 26 deer on private property as part of the city's Urban Deer Hunting program.

"This is our 15th year," police Chief Dennis Murphy said. "This is the first year that we used private property."

For the first time, the Gahanna Police Department opened the program to private landowners, hoping to help reduce the deer population. Murphy said six property owners participated in this year's program. Twelve landowners volunteered, he said.

Murphy said the police department meets each hunter interested in participating in the program. Every hunter must attend at least one orientation meeting with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the city's animal warden and parks and recreation representatives to be allowed to participate in the program, he said.

This year, Murphy arranged a meeting between the hunters and the private property owners to ensure a good match for the program.

"There were no problems this year," he said.

Property owners interested in participating may have been rejected for a variety of reasons, Murphy said, adding that the city couldn't accept property in the middle of a neighborhood. Those property owners helped identify areas of concern, though.

Murphy said the number of deer-auto collisions and property-damage reports were indicative of a deer-population problem.

One area the police department was unable to access was Columbus Academy property. Murphy said deer often flee from nearby city parks and take refuge there. Numerous accidents have occurred on Cherry Bottom, Morse and Hamilton roads because of deer, he said.

Murphy said although Columbus Academy officials have expressed safety concerns, safety need not be a concern. Hunters use arrows that are shot a short distance to thin the herds, he said.

Columbus Academy headmaster John Mackenzie said the school can't allow hunting because no one is permitted to have weapons on campus.

"We have students here every day of the year - even Saturday and Sunday," he said. "Parents would be concerned if they saw hunting going on, on campus."

Mandy Frint, who heads up the city's Urban Deer Hunting program, said numerous safety precautions are taken, especially for private property. She said 200 people had expressed interest in hunting, but only 50 actually participated.

Murphy said hunters are required to follow hunting rules established by ODNR. Hunting may occur from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.

Private landowners supported the idea of having hunters on private property, but they wanted more deer harvested, Murphy said.

"We were very successful this year - our first year," Frint said.

Frint said that by opening the property to private land, the number of deer taken has doubled. She said hunters were a lot more eager to participate in the program, too.

Gahanna landowner Mike Murray participated in the program this year. He, a brother and a nephew are all hunters.

Murray said he was tired of watching deer destroy his apple and peach trees and his blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

"The deer go in and tear things up," he said. "I would like to see more deer taken. For me they are long legged rats."

Murphy said officials realized last year that a change needed to be made in the program when numbers weren't as high as hoped.

Frint said the city in 2007 had 69 auto accidents caused by deer; most were non-injury to the driver or passenger. In 2006, 79 deer-car collisions were reported, and bow hunters killed only 19 deer.

Although city leaders are looking for large parcels of privately owned land for the hunting program, three contiguous neighbors may volunteer for the program.

"We don't want one neighbor adamant against it," Murphy said.

Murphy said the program also serves as a crime deterrent, Murphy said. Sometimes hunters observe a crime in progress and contact the police department.

An informational meeting will be held on the last Wednesday in August. Interested hunters and landowners should check the city's Web site at for more information.


UTAH NEWS: Severe Weather Leads to State-Sponsored Deer Feeding

Utah wildlife officials are making sure the state's deer get enough to eat.

Throughout northern Utah, animals are starving because of heavy snows this winter. For the first time in several years, the state has activated an emergency feeding program for deer.

Some say the state waited to long to step in and help the deer. Officials waited about a month after the first reports came in to mobilize. Despite the feeding effort, experts predict heavy losses to the population, especially this year's crop of young fawns.

The state is getting help executing the program from concerned groups of hunters. The feeding is expected to go on daily for several weeks.


MINNESOTA NEWS: Sharpshooters Hired to Cull Deer in TB Zone

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will use sharpshooters to reduce the deer population in a part of northwestern Minnesota that's seen high rates of bovine tuberculosis.

DNR helicopter surveys in January showed about 800 deer in the 140-square mile area that is managed for bovine TB. The DNR employed sharpshooters in the same area last year, but say numbers didn't significantly decline.

DNR official Michelle Carstensen says sharpshooters are a necessity, even though the overall prevalence of bovine TB in wild deer remains low and is restricted to a small geographic region.

The DNR has also liberalized hunting regulations in the bovine TB zone.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

WISCONSIN NEWS: DeForest Cull Enters Third Season

For the third straight year, DeForest will hire sharpshooters to kill about 50 deer in an effort to control the encroaching population.

"I think it 's been successful because we 've been able to lessen the density of deer out there, " said Patrick Vander Sanden, the village 's public works director. "It 's been a concern for the village in terms of safety and traveling. "

No date for the deer harvest has been set, but Vander Sanden said he hopes it will happen within the next two weeks.

Last year, sharpshooters using silenced weapons and firing from baited tree stands killed 45 deer. Hunters this year will focus on the same area along River and Windsor roads in the southwest corner of the village.

Vander Sanden said an unscientific count showed more than 100 deer in the area.

"We 've seen deer even coming into the northern part of the village, " he said.

New developments on what used to be cropland are limiting food sources for the deer, forcing them closer to homes where residents have reported deer damage to their yards, Vander Sanden said.

Another problem is the number of car-deer crashes in the village. Last year the village had 16 crashes, down from 19 in 2006 and 19 in 2005. There has been one car-deer crash this year.

"I would expect us to have to keep doing this for a little while longer, " Vander Sanden said of the harvest.

The sharpshooters charge $85 for each deer, and the village expects to spend $3,000 to $4,000 on the program.

Other area communities have relied on paid sharpshooters to clear areas overrun by deer. Sharpshooters in Portage killed 59 deer in December and January. Portage ran a similar program from 1999 to 2002, said Tim Raimer, manager of the city 's parks, recreation and forestry department.

Madison also has committed to a sharpshooting program at Cherokee Marsh this winter, said Jake Fries, wildlife biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources.

A similar program last year killed 75 deer, said Dick Grasmick, interim superintendent of Madison parks.

Tami Ryan, southeast region wildlife supervisor for the DNR, said more communities in the state are looking at some form of lethal deer removal.

"It 's a tool that 's kind of grown to be more and more applicable ... as urban communities are dealing with overabundant deer populations, " she said.


Monday, February 04, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Upper Makefield Cull Deemed Success

Anne Toohey has seen fewer deer with “ribs showing through.” Adrienne Minassian said fewer deer are munching on her flower and vegetable garden. Police have reported a 65 percent drop in deer/vehicle collisions in 2007 as compared to 2006.

By all accounts, Upper Makefield's season-long controlled deer hunt was a success. About 70 property owners allowed roughly two dozen bow-hunters to thin herds on their land during the harvest, which spanned September to January. The township last year hired Bedminster-based wildlife management company Eccologix to screen and select hunters and to oversee the hunt.

Although officials still are tallying totals, Jody Maddock, Eccologix Wildlife Management director, said, “We're over the 450 mark.” Of the deer killed, Maddock said, roughly 70 percent were female.

“The goal was a triple of last year's harvest. Last year's harvest was 118,” Maddock said. “A triple would be 354.”

At the outset, officials had said about 3,500 deer — or approximately 166 deer per square mile — called the 22-square-mile township home. Seven deer per square mile was identified as a more manageable number in terms of environmental and human safety, Eccologix officials had said.

Getting to that point will take many more years of hunting, officials said.

“I had expected that it was going to be multi-year in order to have some effect,” supervisor Chairman Dan Worden said. “We'll get a report. Based upon that report, we'll decide what we're going to do going forward.”

Maddock said he expects to make a presentation at the March 19 supervisors meeting. He also is readying a survey for participating property owners to complete.

Serge and Adrienne Minassian beat him to the punch. The Eagle Road homeowners of 30 years sent a letter to township officials expressing their approval with the hunt.

Two hunters were assigned to the couple's 6.3-acre property, Adrienne Minassian said, adding that “you don't even know they're there.”

“They're very discreet, very professional,” she said. “We never saw a dead deer.”

What she has seen are fewer herds feasting on her garden and “sauntering across” her lane.

“The deer used to come up to the front steps,” Minassian said. “They would not even be afraid of you.”

Resident Anne Toohey said she wished the hunting season could be extended to continue reducing the population. Maddock said hunters killed about 20 deer on her 5-acre property.

“There's just too many deer. There's a huge problem nationally with the amount of deer,” Toohey said. “We need to be responsible about the deer population.”

To do so, Maddock said, more landowners would have to grant hunters access. With the same properties, he predicts 30 to 40 percent fewer deer would be killed during the upcoming season.

“They've now been to school,” Maddock said of deer. “Where we are there will be less.”

Besides one resident who urged officials to use birth control instead of hunting, the Upper Makefield hunt has received little resistance. A recent sharpshooting in Solebury sparked considerable controversy, and some in Lower Makefield have spoken out against the township's plan for a controlled hunt.


MONTANA NEWS: Helena Cull Delayed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - City officials have suggested waiting until the fall of this year to kill 50 mule deer inside the Helena city limits.

The city and state wildlife officials are still working out a plan that calls for city police officers to trap and shoot the deer.

Earlier plans called for the program to start this spring.

The city's draft plan calls for police to use clover traps baited with corn, apples, grain and hay to capture the deer; and then shoot adult bucks and does with .22-caliber firearms or bolt guns.

After the animals are cleaned, they would be taken to a meat processor, then picked up by Helena Food Share for distribution to needy families.

The state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will have to approve any new time frame. The city has suggested September 15 through October 15th.

Information from: Independent Record,


PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Possible Changes for Next Season

The Pennsylvania Game Commission may change the look of the firearms deer season, based on the promise of a study that it hasn't started and isn't sure how it's paying for it.

Commissioners gathered in Harrisburg this past week to give preliminary approval to seasons and bag limits for the 2008-09 hunting seasons. Before taking votes, they heard detailed staff reports each lasting as long as 30 minutes on elk, bears, bobcats, fishers, turkeys, and grouse.

When it came to white-tailed deer, though -- the animal that generates by far the most controversy in the state -- commissioners instituted potentially sweeping changes after a 5-10 minute report from a backup biologist.

Commissioners agreed, by a 4-3 vote, to limit hunting to buck only on the first five days of the firearms deer season in wildlife management units 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B. Buck and doe hunting would be then allowed concurrently from the first Saturday of the season until the last Saturday.

Deer season would remain the same as it has been -- two weeks of concurrent buck and doe hunting -- across the rest of the state.

The changes are preliminary. Commissioners have to give them final approval in April to put them into effect.

The commission's deer biologists didn't recommend the changes. They wanted to maintain two weeks of concurrent hunting statewide and shape the size of the deer herd using doe license allocations, said Bret Wallingford, a member of the agency's deer team, who spoke in place of its ill leader, Chris Rosenberry.

But the commission's "senior management team" directed them to prepare an alternative, executive director Carl Roe said.

He did that, according to information he shared previously with others inside the agency, in an attempt to appease state lawmakers who have been holding up the agency's long-sought license fee increase. It may not be enough. Some of those same lawmakers said before the meeting that nothing short of a return to two weeks of buck hunting followed by three days of doe statewide would convince them to give money to the commission.

Yet commissioners made the change anyway.

The change is to be tied to hunter surveys and a study examining the impact of the newly-shaped season on hunter success rates. But that study exists only in theory right now.

The commission needs to collar and track 100 deer each in management units 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B for any study, Wallingford said. The commission already had plans to collar bucks in units 2G and 4B this winter in cooperation with Penn State University.

But there is no staff in place to capture deer in the other units, despite the fact that such work is usually carried out at this time of year, and no partner like Penn State to help the cash-strapped agency pay for it, Roe said. He said only that the agency will have to find the money "somewhere."

Five commissioners added a footnote to their support for the study. They voted in favor of a resolution that no further changes be made to deer seasons over the course of the next four years while the study is being carried out.

That appears to be meaningless, however. Commissioner Tom Boop of Northumberland County -- an opponent of the deer program who will still be on the board when some of its most ardent supporters are gone -- said commissioners can't legally dictate what future boards can or can't do.

That's true, said commissioner Russ Schleiden of Centre County, but the footnote at least gets the board's "intent" on the record.

Game on

Here's a look at the 2008-09 deer hunting seasons given preliminary approval by Game Commissioners this past week. All need final approval in April:

• Deer, archery, antlerless only: WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, Sept. 20 to Oct. 3, Nov. 17 to 29 and Dec. 15 to 23.

• Deer, archery, statewide: Oct. 4 to Nov. 15 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 10.

• Deer, antlered and antlerless, WMUs 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B: Dec. 1 to 5.

• Deer, antlered and antlerless, 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B: Dec. 6 to 13.

• Deer, antlered and antlerless, the remainder of the state: Dec. 1 to 13.

• Deer, antlerless, juniors and seniors: Oct. 23 to 25.

• Deer, antlerless, muzzleloader statewide: Oct. 18 to 25.

• Deer, antlered or antlerless, flintlock statewide: Dec. 26 to Jan. 10.

• Deer, antlerless, WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D: Dec. 15 to 23 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 24.