Friday, January 16, 2009

MONTANA NEWS: Helena Deer Cull Expanded

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners on Thursday agreed to allow Helena police to kill an additional 150 mule deer in the Capital City this winter.

Police Chief Troy McGee said the work will get under way this week or next in central Helena and on the city’s upper and lower west sides. The project will run through March 31.

Two residents offered emotional pleas, asking FWP commissioners to deny the city’s request, but the commission voted unanimously in favor of the project.

Commissioners, however, pointedly noted that city officials should work to reduce impacts on deer habitat from spreading residential development.

“This (problem) just doesn’t happen, doesn’t fall out of the sky,” Chairman Steve Doherty said.

They also reiterated their position that the department’s user-fee funding sources shouldn’t pay to kill deer in areas closed to hunters, and said they were uncomfortable with the department lending the city a truck to transport carcasses.
City Manager Tim Burton couldn’t be reached for comment, but in the past has said the state’s rebounding wildlife population and years of drought have brought more deer into the city. Officials also are working to get legislators to fund new FWP positions to examine urban wildlife and residential development. The city and department also plan to ask lawmakers to set up a state-funded grant program cities can use to help pay for wildlife-control programs.

Helena residents Gretchen Grayum and Alex Dawson asked FWP commissioners to spare the deer.

“You just do it, you kill them,” Grayum said while crying and chastising commissioners for not listening to 80 people who opposed the project in a recent environmental study. Another 106 people wrote supportive comments, but Helenans’ opinion of their hooved neighbors’ fate has been split for several years.

Dawson presented a written plan for transporting the deer out of town and said he would help with the work. As a policy, FWP generally doesn’t allow wildlife to be transported, a measure officials say is a stopgap against the potential spread of disease.

Commissioners seemed ready to wash their hands of the debate. The issue is one for city officials and residents to discuss.

“However they want to do it … we should no longer be involved in it,” Commissioner Willie Doll said. “We should be done with it.”

“It’s not really our job to determine if the hunt is appropriate,” Commissioner Shane Colton agreed. “Our job is to manage the (deer) and determine if the number is reasonable.”

An FWP official noted state law requires commissioners to approve urban wildlife management programs developed by local governments.

Officials eventually plan to draft a program-wide environmental assessment, setting a framework for future deer-control projects in Helena. If that’s approved, in the future city officials would only need to request approval of an annual deer quota.

McGee has ordered six new traps, bringing the city’s total to a dozen. A pair of police officers will use bait to lure the deer into the net-lined, collapsible box traps before killing the animals with a captive bolt gun.

Meat will once again be given to Helena Food Share for distribution to needy families.

Police killed 50 deer in upper east side neighborhoods this fall, in the city’s first lethal deer-control project. They released 35 fawns at the time, but will include young deer in this project.

Police have received a number of requests from private landowners who want deer taken from their property. The city also will be able to set traps at Bill Roberts Golf Course and at Nature Park.

Source: Helena Independent Record

OPINION: What's More Likely To Kill You, A Shark Or A Deer?

Are you more afraid of being killed by a shark or a deer? The answer may surprise you.

There are lots of deer-vehicle collisions every year. Here is some data on fatalities in the United States.

A new study reports that fatalities from vehicle crashes with deer and other animals have more than doubled in the last 15 years. The study cites the overlapping of urban sprawl into deer habitat as a primary reason.

The report by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that 223 people died in animal-vehicle crashes last year, up from 150 in 2000 and 101 in 1993.

Source: Waterfowl and Retriever

There are also about 10 deaths per year in the U.K. due to deer-vehicle collisions, and I do not have data for Canada, Western Europe, or New Zealand. How does this compare to death by shark?

According to the latest figures by the International Shark Attack File, there was only one fatal shark attack in 2007. It took place in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. The mean number of deaths between 2000 and 2007 was 5 a year.

In 2007, there were 50 shark attacks in U.S. waters, compared with 13 in Australia in the same year -- none were fatal.

The big difference between Florida and Australia is that the later has much bigger sharks and therefore more fatal attacks. From 1990 to 2007, Australia had 19 fatal attacks, Florida 4.

But there have only been a total of 56 fatal shark attacks in Australia in the past 50 years, or an average of about 1 a year, says the Australian Shark Attack File.

Source: Reuters

You are at least 46 times more likely to be killed by a deer than you are by a shark.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

SCOTLAND NEWS: Increasing Numbers of Roe Deer Called "A Potential Time Bomb"

ROE deer in Scotland face widespread culls amid concerns that an explosion in numbers around towns and cities is a major threat to motorists, claiming lives and causing millions of pounds of damage.

Extensive planting of new forests in the Scottish lowlands in recent years has provided perfect habitat for the native animal.

Now experts estimate roe deer numbers in Scotland have risen to about 350,000, equivalent to the herds of the better-known red deer roaming the Highlands.

The Deer Commission believes the annual number of road accidents involving deer is around 10,000 with two-thirds caused by the smaller roe. There have been at least two fatalities in the North-east – including Dana-Leigh Trigger, a dental nurse from Banchory in Aberdeenshire – in the last two years.

Across the UK insurance companies estimate they pay out more than £20m for deer-related damage every year.

A major concern now is the growth of roe deer herds around major roads in the central belt. A trial cull of animals has already taken place in Mugdock Country Park, just north of Glasgow, to deal with a roe deer hotspot on the busy A81.

The cull may be extended to other identified hotspots around the M8 motorway, the M80 corridor, the M77 south of Glasgow and the A1 in East Lothian. Other measures under consideration include warning signs for motorists, fences and ensuring trees are not planted close to roads.

Jamie Hammond, the Commission's deer officer for south Scotland, said: "The increasing number of road accidents is becoming a serious safety issue. There have been two fatalities in recent years and many more injuries.

"In the central belt roe are the deer species most involved in accidents and really it is down to luck that there hasn't been a fatality. It's a potential time bomb because there are a huge numbers of deer around roundabouts and hard shoulders."

Roe deer, Britain's second-largest wild mammal after their red cousins, were largely hunted to extinction in the central belt with pockets remaining in the wilder sections of the Borders and further north in the Highlands. But recent Government moves to encourage forestry planting have provided the herds with perfect cover to spread.

One plan, well under way, is to provide an unbroken new forest between Edinburgh and Glasgow. A number of small community woodlands have also been planted around towns and cities in the area.

Hammond said: "We are planting a lot of new woodland which provides them with both food and shelter. Roe deer are very adaptable and move quite quickly into new areas. They are prolific breeders and unless their numbers are managed they can escalate rapidly.

"I doubt that there is 10 square kilometres of the Scottish mainland now that you cannot find roe deer."

The risk of a collision with deer reaches a peak during May when young roe deer are dispersing from the area where they were born. Dr Jochen Langbein, of the Deer Initiative, which is researching deer hotspots, said: "The annual toll of thousands of collisions between vehicles and deer in Scotland alone results not only in numerous human injury accidents and several million pounds in car repair costs, but also presents a very major animal welfare issue.

"Around a third of all deer hit by vehicles survive the initial impact but suffer for prolonged periods at the roadside until a qualified person can attend to dispatch or treat them."

Hugh Claydon, the sustainable forests manager for the Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "Their range is increasing all the time and there has been an increase in road traffic accidents as a result.

"Warning signs at hotspots would be useful as we need to raise awareness that there are more roe deer about. If nothing else, it will get them to slow down, perhaps saving their car from damage and the life of the animal.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that an increase in roe deer is welcome but their numbers do need to be managed."

The trial cull was carried out after a spate of accidents on the A81 from Strathblane to Milngavie. The Deer Commission found roe deer numbers were 10 times those expected. Around 30 animals were shot in the 2007-8 winter and up to 30 more will follow this season.

Hammond said: "Mugdock has shown us that with the right people involved and for the right reasons deer can be managed in this way. This is an area that attracts thousands of visitors every year so culls can be carried out successfully."

Tragic victim of freak crash

Dana-Leigh Trigger was a good driver who had passed her test first time. But the 22-year-old dental hygienist died six months ago when she collided with a roe deer near her home in North-east Scotland and her car swerved into a tree.

The deer jumped out of woodland at the side of the Banchory-Campfield road, which had been newly resurfaced with loose chippings and had a 20mph speed limit. Dana could not avoid a collision even though it was a light summer's evening and her Ford Fiesta left the road and landed on its roof.

It was her niece who found the deer, which had crawled off the road back into the woodland. Dana's father David, a driving instructor, said: "Roe deer are a real menace. We knew there had to be a reason why Dana swerved off the road. Probably 99 times out of a 100 she would have walked away from such a collision but this time she didn't. I'm afraid it was just one of those freak things."

Mr Trigger said he had twice collided with roe deer himself while out driving. "What I did, and what I tell my pupils to do, is keep the car straight. It's better to damage the car rather than people.

"Given the increase in numbers I would be fully supportive of any measures to alert drivers to the danger. Warning signs would be a very good idea so that at least drivers are encouraged to slow down."

Mr Trigger said it was still hard to believe that his youngest daughter had been killed in the accident. "She was the type of girl who touched people's lives. You couldn't find a photo of Dana without a smile on her face."

Source: The Scotsman

UK NEWS: Deer-Vehicle Crashes Rise Threefold in Seven Years, Calls for Deer Cull Follow

A major cull of deer numbers needs to be carried out to cut road accidents, according to the group that manages Ashdown Forest.

In 2000 rangers attended 100 collisions involving deer compared to 266 in 2008, despite having fewer staff in 2008.

Dr Hew Prendergast, Clerk to Conservators of Ashdown Forest said a cull was the only viable option.

Trevor Weeks, of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service, said speeding motorists were the problem.

The area of heath and woodland on the Kent and Sussex border was established 900 years ago for deer hunting.

It now has several thousand Fallow Deer, about two dozen Roe Deer, large numbers of Muntjac and a small herd of Sika.

Dr Hew Prendergast said in 2007 there were 311 road crashes involving deer in the forest and the figure for 2008 was only lower because they had 25% fewer staff and were therefore able to attend fewer incidents.

He added: "The damage the deer are doing in the countryside and the numbers of casualties there are on the roads mean that something must be done.

"The logistics of fencing off all the roads are impossible really to consider so a reduction of the population as a whole needs to be done."

It has also been said that a cull would provide fresh venison for the local economy.

Phil Miles, of Godmersham Game butchers in Canterbury, said: "If you can source everything locally it produces income and economy for the local areas.

"You cut down your disease problems because you are not transporting carcasses or live animals everywhere.

"It's always been there but it's been too easy to go and buy stuff from the supermarket."

Wildlife welfare campaigner Mr Weeks said his organisation was currently treating a deer that had been injured in a road crash at its centre in Uckfield.

He added: "I would be opposed to a cull. It's not the deers' fault, its the drivers who drive too fast and don't change their speed to the conditions of the road.

"The price of venison has decreased so it would not sell very well. With the credit crunch should the tax payer be paying for a cull of deer."

Source: BBC

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WISCONSIN NEWS: Oshkosh to Cull Urban Deer, Ban Feeding

A decision by the Oshkosh Common Council Tuesday evening to kill deer in the Vulcan Quarry did not sit well with several residents who wanted to see the animals' lives spared.

The city council voted 6-1 to contract with Urban Wildlife Specialists to have sharpshooters come into the Vulcan Quarry area during a night between January and April to kill up to 40 deer that have been populating the area and reportedly destroying landscaping. The Common Council also voted 6-1 to allow a variance to city ordinance banning deer feeding and firearms in the city.

Councilor Tony Palmeri cast the lone votes against both measures.

An amendment proposed by Palmeri to table the ordinance until the city has more time to assess the issue was overturned. City staff has been working on the efforts to get the urban deer population under control over the past two years.

"Does deer culling work? I've found that it doesn't," Palmeri said.

The culling is being done to prevent the deer from multiplying and moving into other areas of the community and preventing car-deer crashes, said Oshkosh Police Department Chief Scott Greuel.

"I don't think they (the sharpshooters) will even be within eyeshot of any residences," Greuel said. "If the baiting effort is successful, I've been told we will only need one night."

Oshkosh Common Councilor Bryan Bain said culling deer in the area is a necessary move.

"I understand the emotion behind this … I don't think anyone up here has anything against deer," Bain said. "We have an obligation as a city council to deal with it now before it effects more of the community."

Around 10 people voiced their opposition during the city council meeting Tuesday against the move to hire sharpshooters; many stating alternative non-lethal methods should be used to curb the problem.

"I'm here to speak on behalf of the deer," said Janet Helstrom, 1706 Evans St., during the Tuesday night meeting. "I'm really upset about this and that it would come down to shooting the deer. I hope we will be able to work something else out."

Several others spoke out on the issue. Amy Haberkorn, 4711 Indian Bend Road, said a solution she created and sprays on her landscaping prevents deer from destroying the plants.

Karen Fiedler, 4697 Indian Bend Road, said deer destroyed a perennial garden on her three acres, but she still didn't think the deer should be killed.

"It's bittersweet. I love looking at the deer but the deer also, literally ate things to the ground in my yard," she said. "But to kill them would just be such a pity."

Source: Oshkosh Northwestern

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

GEORGIA NEWS: FDR Park Closed For Deer Hunt

Maybe the deer will never know what hit them — be it bullets or buckshot.

They could be in for a lethal ambush this week, as Pine Mountain’s Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park holds its first two-day deer hunt.

This Tuesday and Wednesday, the campgrounds, cabins and trails will be off-limits to everyone except 155 hunters and the authorities monitoring them — and the deer.

Motorists who regularly drive through the park on Georgia 190 or 354 still will find those highways open, but they are not to stop. Signs will say “Park Closed” and list the two hunting dates.

Hunters who each pay $30 for the privilege to participate in this first hunt will get a vehicle park pass with a special fluorescent strip distinguishing it from the standard pass given other visitors. No other vehicles, except those of rangers regulating the hunt, are allowed on the park’s roadsides or in its parking lots.

Bucking the trend

State authorities say such hunts are part of a long-range plan to better manage natural resources. But allowing hunting in the park has sparked some controversy.

The Pine Mountain Trail Association that maintains the park’s popular 23-mile hiking trail is opposed to it and disputes state estimates that the park has 50-65 deer per square mile. Jim Hall, former president and now vice president of the trail association, believes a more accurate estimate would be 12-14 deer per square mile.

Were that the case, no hunting would be necessary, said Ronnie Eakins, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Region 3 operations manager. He said those studying the deer population relied on three methods — investigating plant damage, setting up trail cameras and spotlighting deer at night. That yielded the estimate of 50-65 per square mile, he said. “It’s about twice the normal carrying capacity,” he said of the park’s environment, which optimally sustains 25-35 deer per square mile.

Exceeding that ratio leads to overpopulation and extensive plant damage, he said, so the park wants to reduce the number of deer, and hunting’s the most cost-effective way to.

In other state-managed areas where hunting isn’t feasible, paid sharpshooters are used to pick off the deer, he said.

By arranging this “quota hunt,” in which hunters buy permits and attend briefings on the two-day hunt, the park expects to make money, Eakins said. Other areas have made from $4,000 to $7,000 on such hunts. FDR park may not make that much, but having the hunters come in at this time of year when the park’s not as busy should give it a boost: Besides buying permits, the hunters also rent cabins and campsites.

Rules of the hunt

They are to gather for a briefing at 6 p.m. today in the park’s large group campground to go over the rules again, Eakins said. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they may go into the woods before dawn, but they are not to shoot until daybreak. They may hunt dawn to dusk, abiding by standard regulations, with rifles or shotguns.

One particular requirement for this hunt is that on the first day, hunters must kill a doe before a buck. On the second day, they may kill either. Does are targeted in reducing the population because they bear offspring.

To protect facilities and residents in the area, the park has set signed and painted “safety zones” to keep hunters at least 50 yards away from homes and park buildings.

Hall, the trail association vice president, said his group fears that allowing hunting in the park this week will encourage poaching later. He’s urging hikers to report spotting deer stands or people with guns in the park after this hunt.

Hunting hunters

“There was a safety concern that residual hunters would try to come in after the hunt,” Hall said last week. “If you go to our Web site, we’ve got a thing on hunts, and we’re telling people, after next week, you see somebody in the woods with a gun, or camo, or a deer stand — and even the park people are telling us this — call the sheriff’s department, or them.”

Eakins said park rangers already catch people setting up deer stands and poaching in the park and holding a legal hunt for two days isn’t likely to change that one way or another.

Park Manager Don McGhee said that because of this week’s hunt, the park boundaries have been marked more clearly, which should reduce the chance of hunters trespassing by mistake, or using the excuse that they couldn’t tell where the border was.

Because this is FDR State Park’s first hunt, everyone’s waiting to see how it goes, and hoping nothing goes wrong.

Hall doubts it will stock many freezers with fresh venison, or bring many trophies to the taxidermist.

“We figure, hey, look: They’re not going to kill that many deer. ... It’s not going to do any damage to the park’s looks. So we’re just going to let it pass.”


NEW JERSEY NEWS: Watchung Burough to Cull Deer

he borough's three-month deer management program is expected to begin later this week and end in mid-April.

As with all deer-hunt programs statewide, the borough had to get a Community-Based Deer Management Program Permit issued through the state's Division of Fish and Wildlife. The New Jersey Fish and Game Council in October approved the supervised hunt.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife said 47,017 deer were killed statewide during the 2007-08 season with a bow, shotgun or muzzle-loading rifle. Locally, 116 deer were killed during that season in the borough, said Clerk/Administrator Laureen Fellin.

While the borough's deer hunt is limited from January to April, neighboring Warren holds deer-hunt sessions in the fall, early winter and winter, with each period designated for a particular kind of hunting technique, such as bow, firearm or shotgun.

According to a borough-provided outline of how this year's cull will work, the hunt includes tracts of land under borough and private ownership.

These five tracts of borough-owned land will allow controlled deer hunting:

— Nine acres west of Somerset Street.

— Fewer than 20 acres on the west end of Mountain Boulevard.

— One and one-half acres on Drift Road.

— Fewer than 10 acres on Sequoia Drive.

— Fewer than six and one-half acres between Route 22 west and Johnston Drive.

The six parcels of privately owned land designated for the hunt are:

— Stonley Lane's south end, 1.5 acres.

— Nineteen acres on the west side of Bonnie Burn Road.

— Lower Johnston Drive, 1.7 acres.

— The east side of Elsinore Drive, 1.5 acres.

— High Tor Drive, 1.5 acres on the northwest side.

— Old Somerset Road, 1.5 acres.

Hunting is allowed only from elevated tree stands and only by employees of the firm authorized to do the hunt, Fellin said.

Hunters must follow a number of rules, Fellin said. Among them: hunters cannot keep a deer's rack; all deer meat must be taken to a certified butcher for preparation and distribution to local food banks.

As in past years, the borough employs various outlets to keep residents abreast of the program's progress.

A 24-hour hot line — 908-756-0368 — will be reinstated for operation during the 100 or so days of the season to provide residents with updates and information about the dates each tract will be open for hunting.

The borough also posts deer season information on cable Channel 15, posts spots on Watchung Radio 1610 AM and at

There is some evidence that local governments are looking to expand the seasonal hunts to include other wildlife.

Hillsborough, for example, recently approved an ordinance to allow the controlled hunting of coyote and fox, in addition to deer. The introduction of the ordinance did provoke a few township residents to speak out against adding wildlife to the hunt.

For example, township resident Rose Rosenbaum said at a December public hearing on the ordinance that she did not believe a hunt effectively prevents car accidents in Hillsborough. There has been an increase in deer-related accidents in Hillsborough between 2006 and 2007, according to motor vehicle data.


OHIO NEWS: Solon Cull Enters Fifth Season

In case anyone hasn't noticed, Solon's deer culling program has resumed for the fifth consecutive year.

Dave Hromco, the city's assistant public works director, said the shooting started Jan. 3. Through Sunday night (Jan. 11), 92 deer had been killed.

Hromco said the Ohio Division of Wildlife has authorized the city to cull 200 deer this season. That's the most since 2006, when the city shot 400.

Hromco said the culling is expected to last another two weeks, although under its Ohio permit, the city has until March 31 to finish.


MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: Limited Season Approved for Sachem Pond Wildlife Preserve

Deer may no longer be able to hide from hunters by leaping into the Sachem Pond Wildlife Preserve. After listening to public comment on the issue Monday night, members of the Town Council voted to create a limited deer-hunting season in an area of Plat 1, Lot 46, between Middle Pond and the North Light. If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signs off on the town’s request, the hunt will be on.

Most members of the public who attended the public hearing on the proposed change supported it, citing the deer’s role in spreading ticks carrying Lyme disease, and fender benders caused by deer dashing across roads.

“Anything we do to help eliminate the deer … is a good thing to do,” Cliff McGinnes Sr. said.

Maggie Komosinski had reservations about which side to take on the issue. “I’ve had damage on my property from deer,” she said, “but wildlife refuges are set up for the wildlife.”

First Warden Kim Gaffett, acknowledging she understood the logic of those supporting the hunt, agreed with Komosinski. She was not in favor of the hunt as the land was set aside in the 1970s for wildlife. However, she thought U.S. Fish and Wildlife would allow it as a deer management plan.

The council voted first to change the town ordinance to allow hunting on the wildlife refuge. Initially council members Ken Lacoste and Dr. Peter Baute voted in favor and Gaffett against, but Lacoste reminded Gaffett that with only three councilors present (Torrey and Martin were off-island and delayed by weather), they had to honor an agreement to pass motions with a majority of the enitre council. The three then rescinded their votes and voted again, this time with Gaffett voting in favor. She made the caveat that the two missing council members would have supported the hunt.

Then they voted to allow a hunting season on the refuge this year. This would commence as soon as there is permission from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The area will be clearly marked by a sign, the dates advertised in the Block Island Times, and all hunters would have to register with the police department before and after going there, as they must to hunt at Beane Point.


WEST VIRGINIA NEWS: Lawmakers Seek Solution to Deer-Vehicle Collisions

Collisions involving motor vehicles and deer are becoming enough of a menace in West Virginia that the Legislature is getting involved.

Lawmakers decided Sunday they want an in-depth study of the problem and possible remedies done in this year's legislative session, which starts next month.

Last year, State Farm Insurance said vehicles in West Virginia have a one in 45 chance of colliding with deer -- the highest rate in the nation and a spot the state also occupied the previous year.

Paul Johansen with the state Division of Natural Resources says the problem doesn't have any obvious solutions.

Signs flashing warnings to drivers have shown mixed results, and other measures -- like whistles mounted on automobile hoods -- don't work.

Source: Charleston Gazette