Friday, February 06, 2009

ILLINOIS NEWS: Deer Harvest Down 5% Compared to Last Season

Illinois deer hunters experienced their lowest kill total since 2003 this past season, but the state's deer project manager is not pushing the panic button.

In fact, he's not even breaking a sweat.

"I know there's people that are alarmed right now," said Tom Micetich, who holds the post for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "I hear from a bunch of them, but I'm not terribly concerned.

"You'd think if the agency was in fact making an effort to curb the herd growth like we have since the 2003 season -- noting that was the peak in deer-vehicle accidents -- you'd see a decline in the harvest."

Preliminary totals released last week by the IDNR reveal Illinois hunters killed 188,425 deer. That's a 5.3 percent decline, or 11,246 fewer deer, than were harvested during the 2007-08 season. It represented the lowest total since the 2003-04 season, when 168,762 whitetails were harvested. [Twenty years ago, the harvest was just shy of 50,000 deer, and that was a state harvest record. -Ed.]

Illinois wasn't alone in experiencing a decline. Neighboring states Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota all saw their harvest totals dip. What has hunters worried is the kill total is decreasing even though the IDNR is issuing more permits.

"Guys get alarmed, but when you combine all the seasons and all the dead deer, it's not that bad," Micetich said. "In Wisconsin, hunters killed about 450,000 deer and were complaining they didn't see enough deer. It's kind of hard to kill almost a half-million deer and complain that you didn't see any."

Micetich said numbers are what people make of them. He noted that Illinois has an estimated 800,000 deer.

"In Illinois, we've killed nearly 200,000 deer for five straight years," he said. "Yeah, there's no deer out there. I wasn't discouraged by the total. When you look at the total, we're down 5.4 percent, but our actual doe harvest was up by .6 percent. That's a good thing."

Illinois' doe harvest was up nearly 1,200 from last season, but the buck harvest was down by more than 12,000. Micetich said a later gun season and unfavorable weather were likely the prime culprits for that dip.

Illinois' firearm season started a week later (Dec. 4-7) than last year, prompting many to believe hunters had missed the peak of the rut, or the time of the year when bucks and does mate.

"With an earlier season, you tend to have more chasing going on," Micetich said. "The boys are pursuing the girls, making them more visible. If you're on the tail end of that period when bucks aren't with does or are wore out from having chased them for three weeks and are going to lay up and recuperate from all the energy expended, that may have played a significant part of it.

"The other part of it was the weather itself kind of stunk both seasons with temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal. You have a bunch of hunters who were maybe fair-weather types that were waiting for the next season."

Locally, hunters in an 11-county area -- Bond, Clinton, Fayette, Jefferson, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington -- harvested 27,729 whitetails. That's 1,826 fewer than were killed last year.

Area hunters took 8,479 deer during the archery season, 16,442 during the firearm season and 2,040 during the late-winter antlerless only season. Jefferson County topped the list with 4,469 kills, followed by Randolph County (3,851) and Marion County (3,571).

Several changes could be in store for the 2009-10 deer season. Micetich said the IDNR is currently reviewing recommendations made by the Task Force on Deer Population Control

"I would suspect at this point, we're working toward that nine-day late-winter season and selling permits over the counter," Micetich said. "I don't think there's been any movement on the additional firearm deer day for the first season. I think we're going to wait and see what the hunter survey shows us."

Source: Belleville News-Democrat

OHIO NEWS: Record Deer Harvest, Yet Falls Short of Management Goal

Ohio hunters set a record by harvesting 248,515 white-tailed deer during the 2008-09 seasons, according to preliminary reports from the Division of Wildlife.

The deer kill topped the 237,316 white-tails checked in 2006-07, and was 1,485 short of the division's goal of hunters taking a quarter-million bucks and does.

The seasonal deer harvest was reported to the Ohio Wildlife Council at its monthly meeting Wednesday. The total could increase slightly before it becomes official, with a few check slips yet to be counted.

Game management supervisor Dave Risley outlined for the council recommended changes for next year's deer season to be voted on in April. Included is moving the four-day muzzleloading rifle season from a post-Christmas event to Jan. 9-12, and expanding the deer bag limit for sportsmen hunting in Ohio's three deer zones during the early archery season.

During the early archery season (Sept. 26-Nov. 30) that leads to the statewide gun season, discounted $15 antlerless deer permits again will be available and deer zone limits will apply only to deer killed in that zone. With an early archery season limit of two deer in Zone A, four in Zone B and six in Zone C, a traveling sportsman could legally take 12 deer by hunting in all of the zones.

That could jump to 18 deer if a hunter takes advantage of the five urban deer zones around Ohio's major cities, where the season limit is six antlerless deer. The limit of one antlered deer, or buck, per season would still be in force. A regular either-sex deer tag is $24, and must be purchased before buying discount antlerless deer permits. An earlier proposal to allow hunters to kill an unlimited number of antlerless deer in the urban deer zones has been scrapped.

"This past season, we had about 5,000 hunters who killed three or more deer," said Risley. "We wanted the changes in order to simplify the limits."

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Thursday, February 05, 2009

MICHIGAN NEWS: No CWD Detected in Wild Population

None of 9,000 free-ranging deer checked for chronic wasting disease around the state in 2008 tested positive, state wildlife official are expected to report today at the Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

The disease was discovered in one Kent County breeding farm deer last August. To date, it is the only deer to test positive for CWD. Disease experts also tested 4,000 deer on captive breeding facilities.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said Steve Schmitt, the wildlife veterinarian for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "We are going to do surveillance for another two years around Kent County and will always be doing some type of CWD surveillance around the state because you never know when the disease may enter the state."

Schmitt said of the 9,000 deer the agency tested statewide, 1,523 were from the nine-township zone around the farm where the infected deer was found. A total of 1,878 free-ranging deer were tested in Kent County. Another 1,845 deer were tested in the counties that surround Kent.

"The most important number is the 1,523," Schmitt said. "Those are the deer from right around the area where the sick deer was found."

Source: MLive

KANSAS NEWS: Too Many Deer in Shawnee Mission Park

Johnson County commissioners will be discussing at 9:30 a.m. today what to do about all the deer in Shawnee Mission Park.

People who live near the park are tired of deer destroying lawns and gardens, or leaving mounds of droppings. One woman in the area was diagnosed three years ago with Lyme disease, which is carried by infected ticks that thrive on deer.

According to the Lyme Association of Greater Kansas City, there are at least 400 deer in the park. The county parks board said this is at least eight times as many deer as the park can support. [The park is 1250 acres, so the deer population density is about 200 per square mile! - Ed.]

The parks board director said that he wants the district's biodiversity committee to come up with a plan to manage the deer herd. It could be a year before any plan could be put into place.

The park district is working on ordinances allowing for hunting of deer on public land, but these have not been approved.

Source: KMBC

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: Struggling with Suburban Deer Management

Tom DePersia has been hunting in Marshfield for 25 years, long enough to see the deer population explode, as undeveloped land available for hunting shrinks.

Now, the town is seeing the results, DePersia said. Deer are roaming residential neighborhoods, running in front of cars, eating plantings and carrying Lyme disease into back yards.

Marshfield is among many South Shore towns struggling to balance public safety and what hunters say is the need to thin the deer population.

State regulations prohibit hunting within 500 feet of a dwelling and 150 feet of public roads. Towns can set additional restrictions on hunting on conservation land, and many do.

Marshfield closed conservation land to hunters 20 years ago.

The problem, hunters say, is that private undeveloped land, once open to hunters, has been sold off and developed, further limiting hunting.

Between 1971 and 1999, nearly 10,000 acres of forested land in 11 towns between Weymouth and Duxbury was developed for residential use, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

Pembroke police Chief Michael Ohrenberger said hunting has “become less and less frequent over the years because of the limited space.”

Jason Zimmer of the state Division of Fisheries & Wildlife said it is important to keep open whatever land remains to help control deer populations.

“We always advocate for as much land open as possible,” he said. “Before too long, those are the only areas we’re going to have left to effectively manage the deer herd.”

Duxbury and Hanover now allow bow hunting on some conservation lands.

Hingham allows bow hunting with written permission from the conservation commission on certain parcels.

“Hunters are getting squeezed a bit,” Hanover Conservation Agent Patrick Gallivan said. “I think some of the areas that were really pretty rural, now there’s subdivisions right around that.”

Police say they get calls every year from residents, complaining about hunters.

Zimmer said some of the conflict is because people who move from the city to smaller South Shore towns aren’t used to seeing hunters.

“People have been hunting deer in Marshfield since deer have been in Marshfield; it’s not something new,” he said.

In Marshfield, the conservation commission will meet Wednesday night to begin talks about easing the hunting restriction on conservation land.

A decision will be made after a public hearing in March.

DePersia, who hunts with his sons, said the increasing population of deer has made people more aware of the problems associated with them.

“I think there’s more of an awareness of some of the damages and health risks ... where (residents ) want to see more hunting and thinning out the herd,” he said.

Source: The Daily News Tribune