Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MAINE NEWS: Low Deer Harvest Expected

Over the years, I have heard firsthand disparaging comments from the disgruntled deer hunter camp, accusing state wildlife mangers of not knowing how many deer are in the woods. Here, the Maine DIFW has put forth a very specific prediction about harvest numbers for the forthcoming season. I'll wager that the projected figure (24,000) is within 10% of the actual harvest, largely because the DIFW DOES know the size of the population they are managing. Check back next spring--time will tell.

State wildlife officials say the harvest from next month's deer season is projected to be the smallest in more than two decades because of the heavy toll of last winter's harsh conditions on the deer herd.

Hunters are expected to kill about 24,000 deer during the season, which begins Saturday for residents and Monday for nonresidents.

Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said that would be the lowest number since 1987.

Hunters last year harvested 28,884 deer, which is in line with Maine's 20-year average.

Source: WCSH6

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MICHIGAN NEWS: Anger Over Deer Baiting Ban

FRANKENMUTH - Farmers say the state is stealing their livelihoods with a deer-baiting ban to battle a killer disease.

Hunters are up in arms complaining that the state is adding unfair rules for pursuing their game.

More than 70 hunters and farmers gathered in Frankenmuth during a heated presentation Monday from state officials on chronic wasting disease.

Economists estimate that deer bait sales bring in $50 million annually in the state.

Department of Natural Resources officials presented information on the disease and how to prevent its spread during the two-hour meeting at the Wallace and Irene Bronner and Family Performing Arts Center.

An hour-long question-and-answer session aimed heated dialogue from audience members toward the four-person panel.

"You're taking away people's livelihoods," said Roy E. Stolz, a 51-year-old Saginaw County resident. "You're killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer."

Stolz said he raises 25 to 30 acres of sugar beets for deer bait and stands to lose around $25,000 because of the permanent ban.

"They really have no sound scientific evidence," he said.

Stolz said takes umbrage with the ban's timing.

"They could have told us in the spring," he said. "The way they took it away ... it's a little unsettling with me."

Scientists first confirmed the disease Aug. 25, when a 3-year-old doe at a privately operated cervid facility in Kent County tested positive. The state killed the doe and 50 other deer at the facility.

Chronic wasting disease is fatal in white-tail deer, elk, moose and mule deer and spreads through contaminated food, water, feces and saliva.

"There is no cure," said Michael E. Bailey, wildlife management supervisor for the DNR. "It's a death sentence once they get it."

It does not cross to humans.

The DNR implemented a response plan, drawn up in 2002 after a deer in Wisconsin tested positive for the disease, following the state's first, and only, positive test.

Steps include a deer bait ban, quarantine on all private facilities, prohibiting deer rehabilitation and widespread testing.

A surveillance zone also is in place around Kent County. Officials will test 300 deer in Kent County, nine townships in Kent County, and the seven counties surrounding Kent County. In the remainder of the Lower Peninsula, scientists will test 50 deer in each county.

"From that sampling, we should be able to determine with some certainty if the disease has spread," Bailey said. The state's game and fish protection fund provide testing, which costs around $50 a deer. General fund money will supplement the cost.

The DNR ordered the baiting ban to extend for six months starting in August and extended it indefinitely on Oct. 9 after an Ingham County judge upheld the DNR's authority to make the decision.

"We all knew what the outcome would be," said Kevin Kirk, special assistant to the state veterinarian, of people's complaints about the ban. "We are trying to find some avenues for your product."

William R. Adams, a hunter for 52 years, agrees with the ban and preventative measures the state has taken.

"They should have never accelerated it like they did," the 68-year-old Birch Run resident said of baiting. "I've seen people with pick-up loads of apples dump them in a hunting area. I think it's something that needs to be addressed."

Cass City resident Garry F. Gamet said he can understand the anger from farmers who are losing money from deer bait sales.

He does, however, disagree with using bait as a hunting technique.

"Shooting deer in a bait pile is like going to the zoo and shooting animals," he said.

Gamet said a power point slide Monday evening, showing a precipitous dip in the deer population during the next 50 years if the disease is not brought under control, impressed him.

"If we allow baiting, and it (wasting disease) gets into our wild herd, our kids and grandkids will suffer for it," Gamet said.

Source: MI Live

AUSTRALIA NEWS: Feral Deer Multiplying in Brisbane Area

Feral deer are being targeted by Brisbane City Council literally.

Four deer have been shot by Brisbane City Council officers in the past two months in response to complaints, with council abandoning the use of deer trapping in bushland or large land tracts.

It was revealed early this month council would hire a second animal control officer amid rapidly multiplying numbers of feral deer, which have caused problems on western suburb roads.

In April, police responded to calls from startled families in Seven Hills, Norman Park and Camp Hill about a stag wandering their streets.

After attempts to capture the animal failed, it was left to find its own way back to
Carina’s Minnippi Parklands, where a herd of up to 30 deer are known to roam.

While initially being told by council its primary response was to trap the animals, a spokesman for Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has revealed it will only continue use of traps when close to homes.

He said shooting would be the preferred option on large tracts of land where necessary as the deer were often harming themselves as they thrashed about inside the cages trying to escape.

But the spokesman denied reports a larger cull was being considered.

Councillor Newman would not be drawn except to say it was a major problem.

``It is not something that can be swept under the carpet anymore, it must be dealt with,’’ he said.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty preferred the deer were humanely euthanised and not unnecessarily shot, but conceded finding a sanctuary or farm willing to take them in was difficult.

``It will get 10 times worse in another three years,’’ Mr Beatty said, of the feral deer problem.

Source: Wynnum Herald

Monday, October 27, 2008

RESEARCH NEWS: Deer Elevate Local Animal Diversity

Katherine Greenwald and colleagues recently published a paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management (2008: 72:1318-1321) that reports higher levels of animal diversity in areas with deer relative to deer exclusion plots. The experiment was conducted in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in NE Ohio. Deer exclosures were built in 1999, and were 10 x 10 m in size. The study of animal diversity was conducted in 2004 and 2005.

Key findings included:

1. Red-backed salamanders were about three times more abundant in deer plots.
2. Snakes were about five times more abundant in deer plots.
3. Gastropods (i.e. snails and slugs) were about 10% higher in deer plots.

To date, there have been relatively few studies conducted on relationships between deer browsing and animals, and as such this represents an important contribution. However, the results are somewhat surprising. All previous work (just 3 studies to my knowledge) has revealed negative relationships between gastropods and deer browsing. This is a counterintuitive result.

Conversely, the findings involving browsing and snakes makes sense. Snakes are ectotherms and would benefit from more open conditions, presumably.

I am surprised by the strong response of salamanders to deer. I would have expected a weaker response, and I would have expected a negative relationship between salamanders and deer.

This study reported some interesting patterns, but I do not know how generalizable they are. I hope there is some follow-up research forthcoming.