Friday, February 29, 2008

NEW JERSEY NEWS: South Mountain Cull Over, 67 Deer Per Square Mile Killed

Essex County's South Mountain Reservation has 213 fewer deer after a monthlong hunt that ended today.

With no safety or security problems reported during the length of the hunt, county officials said they were pleased with the first year's results.

Since Jan. 29, a dozen volunteer sharpshooters have worked from tree stands at stations throughout the reservation to curb the deer population. The hunt took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though it was shortened from 10 days to 8½ because of inclement weather and the Presidents Day holiday.

"This program was a huge success," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. "We are 12 years too late. (If we had started 12 years ago), we would not have the problem we have today."

Sharpshooters exceeded the county's goal of culling 150 deer from the 2,047-acre park two weeks ago. County leaders and environmental groups say the deer have overpopulated the park, ruined its underbrush and are a nuisance for drivers and residents living nearby.

Dan Bernier, a consultant hired from Union County to oversee the hunt, said each of the animals killed was checked for age and gender to learn more about the population of the South Mountain herd. Yesterday, 22 deer were killed. One male and three females were killed in the morning session, and five males and 13 females were killed in the afternoon session.

Of the 213 animals killed over the course of the hunt, 88 were male and 125 were female. Nearly all of the does were pregnant, some with twins. Bernier estimated the culling prevented an additional 125 deer from being born in the reservation.

Though the county executive acknowledged he'd gotten phone calls and letters from residents and deer activists objecting to the hunt, he said the hunt wasn't something he wanted to do, it was something that had to be done.

The county executive estimated the cost of the hunt at just under $60,000, factoring in Bernier's contract, overtime for sheriff's deputies and park employees and the cost of butchering the animals. The venison -- estimated at more than 15,000 pounds -- was donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

DiVincenzo said he planned to bring the marksmen back to South Mountain, which stretches through South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and to other parks in the future.

"There's a major problem in the entire county," DiVincenzo said. "I plan to expand it next year."


TEXAS NEWS: Over 300 Deer Per Square Mile at Kerrville Schreiner Park--Officials Consider "Doing Something About It"

The white-tailed deer population in Kerrville Schreiner Park has grown too big, prompting the city to consider taking actions.

Options include managed hunts for bowhunters, relocating spikes and does elsewhere in the state, and/or trapping deer and having them processed for meat.

The park’s deer capacity is 65. “Sixty-five is a stretch for us, and we’re at 300 right now,” said Kristine Ondrias, the city’s director of general services.

The 38 “exotics” and buck deer in the park would be left alone, she told the Kerrville City Council on Tuesday.

According to Mike Krueger, district leader for the Edwards Plateau Wildlife District of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the deer have overgrazed the park’s 517 acres, leaving insufficient vegetation or habitat.

Ondrias said deformities are showing up in the deer herd, such as mutated hind quarters and curved hooves, and species are “getting smaller and smaller.”

She said vehicular accidents involving deer along highways near the park are a problem, as are aggressive deer during the breeding season.

Property owners in the Oak Hollow and Riverhills areas have complained.

The goal of the wildlife management program is to restore the balance of the park system and manage a healthy population of deer.

“The public won’t notice much at all,” Ondrias said of a reduced deer herd, “just that we have healthier, bigger deer.”

The managed hunts for bowhunters — the least cost intensive scenario for the city — would be offered three days in December. Qualifying individuals would have to attend a bowhunters education course.

Councilman Chuck Coleman asked about managed hunts in the park at other times of the year. Ondrias said they would be a possibility through special TPWD permits.

Another option for controlling the deer population is for the city is to replace 17,000 feet of fence in Kerrville Schreiner Park, which Krueger advocates, to “knock down the population of deer.” But the taller fence would cost about $350,000.

Ondrias said hiring a professional to trap and transport the deer would cost $40,000 or $150 per deer. She said the city should go after grants available for trapping and releasing deer.

The drawback of relocating deer is that the process is stressful on the animals and up to 60 percent of them don’t survive the relocation process, Ondrias said.

She said meat from deer trapped in the park and then “processed” or killed, would be distributed to charities in Kerr County.

The council is to consider a resolution endorsing city staff’s recommendations at its March 11 meeting.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MINNESOTA NEWS: Deer Harvest 4th Largest Ever

Slightly more than 260,000 deer were harvested by Minnesota hunters during 2007, the fourth-highest deer harvest ever recorded, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator, said "Once again, Minnesota deer hunters enjoyed another great deer season. The last five years have yielded the top five harvests ever recorded."

Before 2003, Minnesota hunters never had killed 250,000 deer in any one season. During the last five years, he said, total deer harvest exceeded that each year.

Nearly 500,000 deer hunters enjoyed long seasons and liberal bag limits.

Firearms hunters harvested 224,250 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 24,200 and 12,000 deer respectively.

During the early antlerless season, which was expanded to 23 areas in 2007, hunters tagged 7,166 deer.

Overall, the statewide firearms harvest was down 2 percent, archery was 4 percent lower and muzzleloader harvest decreased 11 percent from 2006.

Cornicelli said the declines likely were caused by management changes that reduced the number of deer that could be taken in some areas.

A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available online at

For the 2008 season, the deadline for the either-sex permit application is Thursday, Sept. 4. Archery deer hunting will begin Sept. 13.

The early antlerless deer season will be the weekend of Oct. 11-12. The statewide firearms deer hunting season will open on Nov. 8. The muzzleloader season will open Nov. 29.


WISCONSIN NEWS: Winter Sports Deer Impacts

Thanks OB for sending this me this story on deer impacts, literally.

A Lomira man was critically injured early Sunday when his snowmobile struck a deer in the Town of Lomira, bringing to at least seven the number of people injured in snowmobile accidents across the state over the weekend.

Ted S. Curtis, 36, was taken by his wife to St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, according to the Dodge County Sheriff's Department. He was in critical condition Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman said. The accident happened about 3:40 a.m. on County Highway H.

In the Town of Hubbard, in Dodge County, four people, including two children, were injured when two snowmobiles collided head-on about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

A 37-year-old Iron Ridge man was operating his snowmobile with his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter aboard when he crested a hill and crashed into a snowmobile, according to Dodge County authorities. The second vehicle was operated by a 38-year-old Iron Ridge man, the only one of the four wearing a helmet.

The 37-year-old man and his daughter were airlifted to a hospital.

In Marathon County, a deputy suffered minor injuries early Saturday morning when he was run over by an intoxicated snowmobiler.

The Sheriff's Department had received a call about 3 a.m. of three men who were acting suspiciously at a bar and refusing to leave. When deputies responded, one person fled on a snowmobile.

On Friday, a Sawyer County sheriff's deputy struck a snowmobile that swerved in front of her patrol car as she was responding to a domestic disturbance report about 6:30 p.m. A 50-year-old Minnesota man on the snowmobile suffered a broken leg. The deputy suffered a minor wrist injury.


NEW YORK NEWS: Deer Pose Problems at Binghamton University

Most people on campus have seen them at least once. They can be seen by M-Lot, in the Nature Preserve — anywhere except the interior of the Brain, the main road around the campus. They collect at all hours of the night, wandering aimlessly around campus, stumbling onto roads without care for cars. No, this group is not made up of drunk girls coming back from State Street, or pledges from a fraternity.

This group is taking over campus and wreaking havoc on its environment.

They are deer.

The deer that populate Binghamton University’s campus have made themselves at home, and the campus has proven to be a very good home indeed, given their numbers.

“The main reason is a lack of predators, natural or human,” said Dylan Horvath, the steward of the Nature Preserve. “Deer are very adaptable and have been dealing with the lack of natural food.”

This lack of predators has created a haven for deer.

“The deer have figured out that they are not hunted the closer they are to human habitation,” Horvath said. “So we see more of them coming into our natural areas and onto campus.”

Natural predators, he said, can no longer control the deer population — the best means of natural control, wolves and coyotes, were hunted out a century ago.

“Hunting by people is the only substitute that we have for keeping deer populations down,” he said.

Every ecosystem has a carrying capacity, or a maximum number at which a population can be sustained, for its inhabitants. According to Horvath, the carrying capacity of the natural areas has been exceeded.

The exact number of deer is hard to determine, but estimates have been made.

“We’ve counted up to 25 to 30 deer in College-in-the-Woods, which should only have about three naturally,” Horvath said. “There is probably a similar number in the actual Nature Preserve, but they are harder to count.”

Horvath noted that it is hard to tell if the CIW deer move back and forth between the residential community and the Preseve.

“Conservatively, there are probably 45 deer overall,” Horvath said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was well over 50. During hunting season we get an influx of neighboring deer.”

While the idea of an army of deer living in the Nature Preserve may seem funny, it actually has an adverse effect on the environment.

“The deer have eaten probably 99 percent of our wildflowers and have almost stopped forest regeneration,” Horvath said.

This issue of regeneration is significant because of its impact on other species.

There is also the safety issue of students in their cars. Lt. Madeline Bay, of Binghamton’s New York State University Police, explained that even with the large number of deer on campus, there are only three or four accidents a year — a number which has remained steady over time.

“It’s one of those things where people have to be alert,” Bay said. “As long as people go slow and obey the speed limits there is usually no problem.”

Julian Shepherd, Ph. D, associate professor of biological sciences and chair of the Committee on the University Environment, said he also hasn’t received many complaints relating to the deer.

“There is no plan,” Shepherd said. “We talk about options sometimes but think that it would be controversial.”

Any answer to the deer issue would be complicated.

“There are two solutions,” Horvath said. “Change the deer behavior or reduce their population.”

Hunting would reduce the deer populations, but carries a lot of concerns and issues, Horvath explained, including safety, public support and permits.

“Hunting is a very remote possibility for now,” Horvath added. “The chances of hunting being allowed anytime soon are low.”

Horvath said some students had tried to set up a deer exclusion fence in CIW and the Nature Preserve to see if there was regrowth, but complications like people littering the area with beer cans have also affected regrowth.

Problems with solutions have made people reluctant to implement measures.

“Frankly, a lot of us would like to see the deer populations decrease,” Shepherd, in regard to the issues, said. “But we don’t want to do it.”

Horvath believes it is a tough situation, because the conditions that have made a deer problem are mostly caused by humans, and the animals have no choice but to adapt.

“On the one hand the deer are wonderful ‘ambassadors’ of nature and people love seeing them,” he said in an e-mail. “On the other hand, ecologically, and to some extent safety-wise, they are a problem.”

All this, Horvath says, makes for an interesting and touchy problem, especially with the deer’s impact on the forest itself.

“Unfortunately, our forests don’t have the luxury of waiting for nature to take its course, but we may have to,” he said.


Monday, February 25, 2008

NEW YORK NEWS: 2007 Deer Harvest Up 16% Over 2006

The state's hunters harvested about 220,000 deer during the 2007 season, a 16 percent increase over the previous season, said Pete Grannis, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation this week.

Speaking before a group of outdoor writers at a luncheon meeting Wednesday in Albany, Grannis said numbers rose in every deer hunting category the DEC tracks: bucks, antlerless deer (females and young males), takes by muzzleloaders and takes by bowhunters.

At the same time, he noted, the number of hunter-related shooting accidents hit a record low, 14, although there were five fatalities. Also, researchers detected no cases of Chronic Wasting Disease during the season, despite testing nearly 7,500 deer.


NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Will Contraceptives Stabilize Island Deer Population?

Ed. note: Birth control usually does not work for urban deer populations because they are not closed populations. Contraceptives could work on Bald Head if the island is isolated enough prevent immigration and emigration--it will be interesting to watch this situation develop.

BALD HEAD ISLAND (AP) — Officials on Bald Head Island are now working with university researchers to see if they can use contraceptives to limit the deer population there.

Village officials had been using a controlled hunt to cull the herd. That program reduced the number of deer from 500 to about 120 in five years.

The village has now decided to work with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to test the contraceptive method, now that the herd is a manageable size.

Researchers tell the Wilmington Star-News they have started fitting deer with radio collars to see if the deer are staying on the island or migrating across the shoals to southern New Hanover County.

The research will cost the village more than $60,000 over two years.