Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MICHIGAN NEWS: Community Contemplates Future of Large Deer Population

A wildlife expert said Monday the deer population in Grand Haven should be reduced, despite a recent survey that showed a lower-than-expected number of deer living in the city.

Sara Schaefer, a wildlife specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said nuisance complaints and ecological destruction should take center stage in herd reduction talks -- not a population count.

"It's not the number of deer you have, it's the effect they are having on citizens in an urban situation," Schaefer told the Chronicle in a telephone interview Monday.

Schaefer was to deliver a presentation to the city council during a work session Monday night. No action was scheduled.

"I recommend that they do some deer reduction, yes. But it's up to city officials," she said.

Schaefer, a wildlife supervisor for southwest Michigan, says she believes hiring a sharpshooter to thin the herd would help residents, the ecology and the deer.

She said resident complaints are up while deer activity is cutting away grass that protects dunes against erosion. Meanwhile, deer are the No. 1 culprit said to be destroying the protected wild Trillium flower.

Schaefer said a recent helicopter flyover which found 54 deer in Grand Haven -- fewer than officials had anticipated -- is not an accurate method to get a fix on deer population.

Schaefer said the Dec. 3 study should not be the determining factor in the deer culling debate.

"Flyovers do not give you reliable data," she said.

Meanwhile, critics say there was not sufficient snow cover during the flyover, which could have made it harder to see deer with less contrast. Heat-sensing cameras were used in the two-hour flyover that covered the entire city.

More than 118 nuisance deer complaints, ranging from destruction of property, deer droppings on an elementary school's sidewalk and the animals entering residential decks, have been filed at City Hall since Jan. 1.

That's up from 54 complaints the previous year.

Meanwhile, opponents of a deer cull point to city records that show car-deer accidents are down this year -- five compared to 11 in 2007.

But Schaefer said that statistic can be misleading, not taking into account "near misses" that are not reported or recorded.

The flyover, which used a Michigan State Police helicopter, found the most populated areas near Mulligan's Hollow, Lake Forest Cemetery, Duncan Woods, Stickney Ridge and the area bordered by Marion Avenue, Eaton Drive, Beechtree Street and Moreland Avenue.

Schaefer said she recommends a deer cull in January. The city already has taken bids from certified sharpshooting firms, but has not authorized the herd reduction.

"Sharpshooting is safe and efficient for citizens," Schaefer said.

Source: MLive

OREGON NEWS: Dead Deer in Backyards

State wildlife biologists are mystified over the deaths of at least a dozen seemingly healthy black-tailed deer in back yards in Ashland.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Niemela said field tests on two deer revealed they did not die from ruminitis, a disease that kills deer fed corn by residents.

"They had lots of fat and looked like healthy animals, but were dead," Niemela said.

Organ tissue samples are being tested.

One showed possible signs of the adenovirus, a contagious disease that earlier this decade wiped out deer around Ashland, Jacksonville and other areas where the animals had reached unnatural concentrations because some people were feeding them.

Until lab tests are done, Niemela said, it was premature to conclude the adenovirus has resurfaced.

Source: OregonLive.com