Thursday, April 10, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Game Commission Approves Management Audit

Rooney: Get ready for a repeat of the Wisconsin experience.

Dan Moul used to hunt near Sinnemahoning in northcentral part of the state, but he stopped going a few years ago.

"There were more deer down here than there were up there," said Moul, a Republican state House representative from Conewago Township.

Other hunters stopped going, too, and several businesses in the Cameron County town have shut down as a result.

"The white-tailed deer is what a lot of these towns survive on," Moul said.

Moul said he's talked to representatives from the Game Commission about how displeased constituents are, but "I may as well have been hitting my head on the wall."

The state House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution earlier this week that calls for an independent, out-of-state party to conduct a study on the controversial deer-management program.

The Game Commission's goal has been to reduce the white-tailed deer population to ensure the herd is healthy, that the forest habitat can sustain wildlife and that the run-ins between humans and deer would diminish.

But some hunters argue the Game Commission has gone too far in reducing the herd, especially in the northern tier of the state.

Stephen Mohr, president of the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, said he's pleased the House approved the audit, which his organization pushed for. He questions how the Game Commission can determine how many tags should be sold if the management of the herd isn't based on numbers.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hired a company several years ago to use video cameras and infrared equipment to help take a census of the deer during a flyover.

In some places in the northcentral area of the state, it found zero deer per square mile, Mohr said.

Anything below 15 deer per square mile is not considered a huntable population, he said.

The Game Commission welcomes the independent audit as long as it's done by a scientific group, spokesman Joe Kosack said.

If the study validates the Game Commission's program, that's great, Kosack said. If there are changes to consider, "we'd be willing to listen to them," Kosack said.

He said things are constantly changing and, in looking at the history of deer management, the Game Commission cannot please everyone.


Monday, April 07, 2008

VIRGINIA NEWS: Deer Population Threatens Vinyards

The deer population is on the rise, and many experts say it's due to a number of different factors, like their high reproductive rate, the absence of predators, and the increased nutrition from several plants - including grapes vonifera grapes to be exact, and that's why vineyards are gearing up for this year's growing season.

"The deer fence will go right along through here," says Chris Breiner, who manages the Stone Mountain Vineyard. He says deer are becoming more and more of a problem, "In the past we had an electric fence right there and then we had garlic sticks and other things to keep them out, last year that did not work as well since there was nothing in the woods they were moving more."

As the deer population rises, Breiner has to think of other means to protect his grapes, so this past week, he came up with a different plan.

"This is the plastic deer mesh, it comes with a roll that's a hundred feet and eight feet tall, it's supposedly can withstand 900 pounds of pressure before it will tear or rip," says Breiner. He hopes that 1800 feet of fence will deter deer from feasting on his grapes, "Deer are claustrophobic, they have bad peripheral vision so they stay on the top rows and the bottom rows and they come in on the edges they will not really go along the rows because they are very skittish animals, although sometimes they do get in there and panic"

Breiner's customers depend on the quality of his grapes, so keeping deer out is a huge priority.

"They were just on the move more we spent way too many man hours keeping them out, we probably lost, I estimate, last year 6 to 7 tons of fruit to the deer damage," says Breiner.

According to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, deer vehicle collisions and deer damage to agricultural and residential property continue to increase in the Commonwealth.