Thursday, May 22, 2008

NEW BRUNSWICK NEWS: Significant Winter Deer Mortality in 2008

Fewer deer hunting licences will be available this year because of the high mortality rate for deer over the winter, says the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources.

About 25,000 deer died over the winter months in New Brunswick, because of starvation, predation and collisions with cars, said Rod Cumberland, a biologist with the department.

About a quarter of the province's deer population died during the winter, Cumberland said.

In the north, where the most snow fell, the mortality rate reached about 34 per cent, he said.

The heavy snow cover in the province made it difficult for deer to find food, and the crusty snow conditions made them easy prey for predators, Cumberland said.

The mortality rate is about double the usual figure for a winter in the province, he said, which means the province will offer fewer hunting licences for deer.

"Two-thirds of the province will see a decline in their licences," he said. "They might even be as scarce as hen's teeth in some places."

Regulating the number of licences, especially for does, will give the herd time to recuperate from the winter's losses, he said.

"It minimizes what we take as hunters, so the herd can get a jump start and start growing again in some of these areas where we'd like to see more deer."

It will take about two years for the province's deer herd to recover from the winter, Cumberland said.


UK NEWS: Muntjac Cull at Bardney's Limewoods

A TWO-DAY deer cull took place in Bardney's Limewoods, including Chambers Farm Wood in early April, the Forestry Commission revealed. It was part of a county wide ongoing operation.

A spokesperson for the Forestry Commission said: “The aim for this species is to create a sustainable and healthy deer population.“

“If left unchecked, increasing deer numbers would cause significant damage to the biodiversity of our woodlands Muntjac deer in particular uproot wildflowers, like bluebells, and over time destroy the flora of ancient woodlands like Chambers.”

Wildlife ranger Malcolm Armstrong said the growing population of deer was endangering certain species of plant in woodland across the county.

He said reports of road accidents involving deer were also increasing.

"There's certain plants that grow in here that deer favour, so when the deer population expands they are going to eat those plants out of existence.”

Mr Armstrong, who is also head of field operations for the Lincolnshire Deer Group, said the cull would be ongoing and carried out by qualified marksmen.

"Shooting is by far the most humane method," he said.

Mr Armstrong said an ongoing cull was also expected to take place next year.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Arboretum Considers $142000 Deer Fence

Erecting a deer fence completely around the 22-acre Shaw Arboretum at Holmdel Park may not be neighbor-friendly or cost-efficient, members of the Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners said at their meeting at Tatum Park on Monday night.

The project will cost at least $142,000 based on bids that have been received, but the board is not expected to take action until its June 9 meeting.

The proposal was spurred by increasing amounts of damage caused by deer to expensive specimen trees donated to the arboretum local arborists, said Bruce A. Gollnick, assistant director of the parks.

"We're not interested in putting up fences. We don't like it," Gollnick said. "Fences cost money, they cause problems, they need repairs."

A handful of residents have communicated concerns about the placement of a 10-foot-high fence near their properties, though board Chairman Edward Loud said he believes that issue has been exaggerated.

"If I wasn't looking for it, I wouldn't see it," Loud said of the proposed fence.

But other commissioners pushed for more study of the matter.

"Is it necessary to encapsulate the entire area and spend that kind of money?" Commissioner N. Britt Raynor asked, while fellow board member Michael G. Harmon said such fences tend to corral creatures — not only deer — that enter the fenced property at gate openings but can't escape.

"I'm not sure that fencing in 22 acres is not overreaching," Harmon said. "I also think we do what we can to be good neighbors. I don't think somebody who lives right next to the property should need to get in their car and drive all the way around to an entry point. We also push the deer onto nearby properties if we use the fence."

The $142,000 price was the lower of two bids opened last Friday. It was submitted by Accent Fence Inc. of Egg Harbor City; the other bid was a $202,000 offer from National Fence Systems Inc. of Woodbridge.

The fence would stretch about 1,650 feet. The park system in 2003 spent more than $180,000 to fence the 52-acre Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown.

The arboretum is named for David C. Shaw, former superintendent of the Shade Tree Commission. According to the Monmouth County government Web site, the arboretum was started in 1963 with plantings of crab apples, cherries and hollies, and the area now contains nearly 3,000 trees and shrubs.

Park system officials said future donations of materials could be withheld if steps aren't taken to protect the existing stock.


UK NEWS: Muntjac Deer Cull Underway in Lincolnshire

Hundreds of deer will be killed across Lincolnshire in a bid to control the population.

Malcolm Armstrong, a wildlife ranger for the Forestry Commission and head of field operations for the Lincolnshire Deer Group, said the cull would be ongoing and be carried out by qualified marksmen.

He said: "Culls have always happened in the area but deer are becoming more and more prevalent in Lincolnshire."

Around 200 deer are usually killed in Lincolnshire every year in an attempt to manage populations but this year's total may be higher.

A one-off cull in April has already seen the killing of 41 deer.

The small muntjac deer browse on low-lying plant life and have been damaging populations of bluebells and wild orchids.

Mr Armstrong said: "Muntjac really like to eat low ground plants and that really creates a problem with the flora and fauna in some woods.

"If populations get really high then rather than deer being a cute animal that people want to see they can become a pest.

"If the general deer population gets too large then they can start to pick up diseases and we need to strike a balance in management."

Muntjac deer thrive in temperate conditions and have become increasingly common in England due to climatic change and warmer winters.

Any deer killed in the operations will be sold on for human consumption.

To find out more about the cull of Lincolnshire deer, see Wednesday's Echo.


HOW TO: Build A Deer-Proof Fence For Your Garden

When I moved to our property on Farm To Market Road in Whitefish, Montana, I chose to build a deer-proof fence to last 100 years. Though there is a path around the outside liberally sprinkled with deer dropping, no deer have gotten in for the past seven years. And I did it all myself.

Field fencing (4 ft. high hog wire)
5 six inch pieces of iron pipe, 10 ft long
Fencing pliers
Roll of smooth wire
Cement and sand/gravel mix
Fence post digger
Chain link gate, or one made from pipe and wire
Drill for hinge attachment
Fence stretcher
Coffee cans
L Bolt for hinge
T posts, 10 ft tall

1. Dig holes 2-3 feet deep (to frost line) at the corners of your garden, and one extra for a gatepost.

2. Mix cement as directed on the package with sand and gravel.

3. Insert the iron pipe into the holes, plumb with a strong and plumb bob.

4. Fill with cement mixture and let set for a couple of days.

5. Run a string between your posts and measure every 8 to 10 feet for placement of T-bars.

6. Pound the T-bars for a 2-foot depth, in line between the iron posts (I stood on the truck cab to do this).

7. Cut vertical cross wires out of two feet of the end of your field fencing.

8. Starting at the bottom, wrap horizontal wires around the post. Secure by twisting ends of wire around the first vertical wire tightly.

9. Unroll wire past the T posts to the gate and corner posts.

10. Attach a fence stretcher to the wire to tighten it along the fence posts, or pull with an attachment to your truck, or use a come along. Attach stretched fencing to the posts with wire fencing clips.

11. On fence corners, use smooth wire to attach each horizontal strand to the pipe.

12. At the end post, cut off vertical cross wires for two feet of horizontal wire to wrap and twist around the end post for secure fastening.

13. Repeat for the top 4 feet of field fence.

14. Wire top to the bottom strands by weaving smooth wire between the middle edges of the two fencing pieces.

15. Fit gate between the gate and corner post. Position so it is 6" off the ground for snow clearance and possible sagging.

16. Mark the hinge placement of the gatepost. Drill holes straight through the gatepost, and fit with a long L shaped bolt that can be tightened on the far side of the gatepost.

17. Use commercial chain link attachments or fit pipe gate with pipe clamps to hook onto the hinge.


Monday, May 19, 2008

IOWA NEWS: Sustained Cull Reduces Urban Deer in Dubuque

Urban deer-population surveys are inexact science, but the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Commission will present its deer-management plan to the Dubuque City Council on Monday with some good news.

The aerial count conducted in February recorded the fewest deer in the city limits since the bow-hunting program began in 1998, at 219. That figure comes after an unusually high number in 2007, when 466 deer were counted.

Greg Harris, wildlife depredation biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, monitors the aerial surveys in eastern Iowa. He said counts are down or stable everywhere except Muscatine, which saw a spike.

"It's nice to see the numbers down, but you can't explain it by the harvest," Harris said. "There are other factors involved and habitat destruction is one. That's something you can see through the air."

Harris also said the bitter winter probably forced deer to travel farther afield.
"If they're starving and there are food sources outside the city, they will move, and (they) won't move back in right away," Harris said.

The Dubuque City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Federal Building, 350 West Sixth St. "Those does will drift back in."

The bow hunt, which opens in late October and runs through late January, targets does to control population growth. The city's goal is to stabilize the population below 20 deer per square mile. While that measure is often met north of U.S. 20, it hasn't been accomplished south of that line. According to Harris, reaching that "magic number" isn't of high importance.

"The better goal to shoot for is a reduction in damage and in deer/vehicle accidents," Harris said.

Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist for the city of Dubuque, reports deer/vehicle crashes dropped significantly in 2007 to 29. There were 48 in 2006, which bucked a trend of fewer accidents in recent years. From 1998 to 2001, deer/vehicle crashes averaged in the 40s, Corrigan said.

The city is divided into 12 deer-management zones. Harris said two zones that regularly have the highest deer concentrations also have some larger-property owners that don't allow hunters. One area encompasses nearly 2,100 acres in the northeast corner of the city, south of John Deere Dubuque Works and east of Central Avenue. The other is 536 acres south of U.S. 20, mostly between Fremont Avenue and Cedar Cross Road.

"The bottom line is there is always going to be a problem because of private-property rights," Harris said. "It would be easier if everyone allowed the hunters in, but that doesn't happen in rural areas, so it sure isn't going to happen in the city.
He said the key to population control is consistency.

"Once you start hunting, you can't stop. Let's say you hit this man-made magical number of 20 per mile and let up for a couple of years -- you're right back to square one. We come up with these parameters and want to fit wildlife into them. Wildlife doesn't play by man's rules."