Thursday, January 22, 2009

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Essex County Contemplates Repeat Cull

Phyllis Kessler was driving past a northern New Jersey shopping mall a few years ago when five or six deer darted into the street. Almost all made it across - except the one under Kessler's front wheel.

She called the police, who shot and killed the injured animal as she stood nearby.

"It was terrible," Kessler recalled.

Such incidents could decline if local officials have their way. For a second year in a row, Essex County plans to use trained marksmen to help thin the deer population of a 2,000-acre land preserve in northern New Jersey.

The 10-day hunt in the South Mountain Reservation is designed to cull white-tailed deer, which reproduce quickly and are a problem for many New Jersey communities because they ravage vegetation, cause traffic accidents and carry ticks that spread Lyme disease.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said the hunt will be held from Jan. 27 until Feb. 26.

DiVincenzo said the area "is being devastated" by the hungry animals.

This year's hunt is not unexpected. Last year, DiVincenzo said it might take several years to thin the herd to about 60 deer - the number of deer he said the area can safely handle. Editor's note: that's about 20 per square mile and about the right number of deer. The goal this year, he said, is to kill at least 100.

Last spring, volunteer marksmen killed 213 of the hundreds of deer estimated to live in the preserve. Of those, 88 were pregnant females.

Most of the meat from last year's hunt was donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. DiVincenzo said the meat would again be donated there this year.

The preserve borders hundreds of high-priced homes in the thick of the country's most crowded state and residents and animal activists have objected to the hunt.

"It's so wrong on so many levels," Angi Metler, director of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, said Thursday.

Deer-culling, as it's known, has stirred controversy in other states. A lawsuit was recently filed in a Detroit suburb to stop a herd-thinning program. Last year, near San Francisco, protesters rallied against a deer-culling program there.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said his group supports sharpshooting as a tool for population control but would also like to see a strategy that incorporates non-lethal tactics.

A total of nine municipalities in New Jersey have deer-culling programs, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

A more natural way, he noted, is to have predators in the area. But Tittel doesn't expect that anytime soon.

"I don't think anyone wants wolves and mountain lions" in northern New Jersey, he said.

Source: Newsday

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MARYLAND NEWS: Loch Raven Deer to be Culled

By a vote of 5-1, the Baltimore County Council approved a measure last night that will allow, for the first time, firearms hunting of deer in a restricted area of the Loch Raven watershed.

Council President Joseph Bartenfelder dissented without comment.

Nearly 900 deer are feeding in an ecosystem that can sustain about 100, officials said. The growing herd is destroying the vegetation and stripping the trees that surround the reservoir, which provides drinking water to about 2 million residents.

"With overpopulation like this, a lethal solution is the only solution," said David Carroll, county director of sustainability. "In fact, we are protecting our own drinking water."

Bowhunting, which began in the watershed Sept. 15, also for the first time, will likely reduce the herd by about 200 before the season ends Jan. 31. But more animals must be culled to prevent degradation of the water supply and damage to the habitats of other wildlife, officials said.

Sharpshooters, trained and certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will hunt with rifles in the watershed next month. They will likely take enough deer within a week, officials said.

Carcasses will be donated to Farmers for the Hungry, which provides food to the needy, officials said.

Opponents to bow and firearms hunting have urged the council to manage deer in a more humane manner.

Source: Baltimore Sun

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ONTARIO NEWS: Deer Population Grows, Longer Season Pondered

Bambi beware.

The Ministry of Natural Resources wants to expand the fall deer hunt season to control the exploding deer population.

In the past decade, herd numbers have increased by as much as 25 per cent in some areas, most notably southwestern Ontario.

Deer are thriving "for a whole bunch of reasons. More favourable winters, habitat changes – old farm fields growing back into young forests – those are just a few," said Christie Curley, a wildlife policy adviser with the ministry.

More deer have meant more road collisions and crop losses. So the ministry wants to have 22 new hunting regions as well as longer hunting periods, said Curley.

"For example, an area that has a two-day season is being expanded to seven days" while one-week seasons would double, Curley said.

But environmental organizations are crying foul.

Annamaria Valastro with the anti-hunting group Peaceful Parks Coalition said she doubts the change will have any effect. "The deer population is not the problem. The hunting population is declining."

Peaceful Parks has petitioned Premier Dalton McGuinty, to halt a proposed cull of whitetail deer in Presqu'ile Provincial Park.

Curley agrees that while Ontario hunter numbers in general have declined, the exact reverse is true of deer hunters.

Ranks of deer hunters have been steadily increasing for the past decade, she said.

Even so, taxidermist Manuel Jan showed muted enthusiasm when told the deer season may be expanding.

At a time when his business should be booming, Jan's little shop, the Mountain Lion Taxidermy Studio on Broadview Ave. just north of Danforth, is struggling.

"It won't increase business.""Nobody wants to spend the money," he said.

"There used to be 45 of us in downtown Toronto, now it's only me.

"You want to go hunting, you have to spend money. It's a luxury. Driving is expensive. The equipment is expensive," he said.

"I used to do 15 to 25 (deer heads) a year. Now it's six or seven."

Source: The Star