Friday, February 20, 2009

WISCONSIN NEWS: Venison Donations to State Hunger Programs Drop 33%

Deer donations to state hunger programs dropped about a third in 2008.

Laurie Fike, Department of Natural Resources deer donation program coordinator, said the drop coincides with the state’s lower deer kill in 2008.

Hunters donated 7,627 deer to Wisconsin’s venison donation programs during the 2008 deer hunting seasons. Through license sales, hunters also donated $17,183 to partially cover the cost of processing deer for the venison program.

Fike said through 2008 hunters have donated more than 69,000 deer, resulting in more than 3.1 million pounds of ground venison in the first nine years of the program.

Wisconsin hunters may donate to Hunt for the Hungry, operating in the Green Bay area, Target Hunger, which handles donations from the chronic wasting disease management zone, or the Wisconsin Venison Donation Program, covering all remaining areas of the state.

Read the full story at: The LaCrosse Tribune

Thursday, February 19, 2009

MARYLAND NEWS: Record Deer Harvest in 2008

Hunters in Maryland killed more than 100,000 deer in a single season for the first time since modern deer management began in the early 1900s, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The record 100,437 deer taken during the 2008-09 season eclipsed the previous record of 94,114 deer set in 2002-03 and is 9 percent higher than last year's count of 92,208 deer.

Agency officials said the number represents good news for families during tough economic times and for the state's efforts to reduce the deer population.

"Hunting license sales increased slightly this year, but we believe the major factor for the record harvest was that hunters increased their efforts to put more venison in the freezer during these lean economic times," said deer project leader Brian Eyler. "The 10 percent increase in the antlerless harvest is great news and will aid us in managing deer numbers across the state."

Source: Washington Post

IRELAND NEWS: Deer Culling Plans Under Development

Landowners and animal preservation societies are planning to cull the number of wild deer, which is said to have increased dramatically in the past few years.

A deer management programme has been devised both to conserve the number of deer and to advise farmers.

The Irish Farmers' Association, the Irish Deer Society and the Wild Deer Association of Ireland are participating in the plan.

IFA Deputy President Derek Deane said the rise in deer numbers has posed problems for farmers, including fence damage, encroaching on crops, grazing of pastureland and increasing the risk of disease outbreaks.

Chairman of the Irish Deer Society Paul Wood said while they want to conserve wild deer, there is a need for effective management of deer numbers, which can increase annually by 30%.

President of the Wild Deer Association of Ireland Pat Scully said hunters often concentrate on culling male deer because they want a set of trophy antlers.

However, he said this does very little to control deer numbers as female numbers escalate.


WISCONSIN NEWS: City Revisits Deer Feeding Ban Ordinance

Waupun Common Council next week will renew discussions on the possibility of a deer-feeding ban in the city.

Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in its Committee of the Whole workshop at the auditorium at City Hall, 201 E. Main St.

Last year, the city failed to pass an ordinance that would prohibit the feeding of white-tailed deer that are wreaking havoc on trees and shrubs on the northwest side of the city.

Now, with the extent of damage and large sizes of herds, officials believe it is time to revisit the matter.

"We've had snow from November on," said Waupun City Administrator Gary Rogers Jr. "The deer are not that dumb. They've got food, a warm place to sleep, they're not running from hunters and they're coming into town."

Rogers said a couple of herds of deer are roaming the community, causing a great deal of damage.

The ordinance, if passed, would ban residents from setting food plots in yards.

"It's kind of nice to see deer in the countryside," Rogers said. "Now, we're seeing deer (in the city) can be as common as rabbits. They can become a nuisance."

Residents say even barking dogs don't seem to bother the deer, seen walking down streets and through yards — sometimes in groups as many as 20 strong.

Despite testimony last year from Department of Natural Resources officials recommending a ban, the Council voted to keep the feeding of deer in Waupun a legal activity.

Source: Fond du Lac Reporter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MISSOURI NEWS: Deer Harvest Down 21% Versus 2007

During the 2008 firearms season, Missouri hunters took 238,819 deer.

In Taney County, the count was down by 67 compared to last year’s total of 2,278.

In Stone County, the count was up 112 for a total of 1,203 deer harvested.

Quinten Fronterhouse, Missouri Department of Conservation’s Taney County conservation agent, said it was pretty much an average season for both counties.

“The first day of the season was slow,” Fronterhouse said. “As the season progressed we had more hunters getting out and I did see more big bucks taken from the area.”

He said the number of deer hunters in southwest Missouri has declined a bit over the past couple of seasons and attributes that to the unlimited number of antlerless permits available to hunters in counties to the north.

“More hunters are going north for bigger deer,” Fronterhouse said.

Deer hunters are allowed one antlerless permit in Stone and Taney counties.

Fronterhouse said even though the harvest numbers were down by 67 in Taney County this past season, it was still considered a successful harvest.

“With less hunters, our buck population in both counties is reaching a higher age class and that is making for better quality deer,” he said.

Source: BransonDailyNews

INDIANA NEWS: Record Deer Harvest in 2008

Indiana deer hunters bagged a record amount of deer this season, surpassing a high mark set in 2005.

The state Department of Natural Resources says hunters killed 129,748 deer in 2008, a 4 percent increase over last year's total. The previous record was 125,526 in 2005.

Despite bad weather the opening day of November's firearms season, that segment accounted for about two-thirds of the total harvest.

Northeastern Indiana's Steuben County had the most deer killed of any county in the state for a fourth straight year. The 2008 season was the fifth straight year in which the state's deer harvest topped 120,000.

Source: Chicago Tribune

WYOMING NEWS: The Elk Winter Feeding Dilemma

When the mighty elk herds of the West were facing the possibility of extinction from overhunting, settlement and neglect a century ago, people here stepped forward and began what has turned out to be a profound biological experiment.

They offered food to the straggling survivors.

Now a new and tightening circle of challenges is closing in on the elk and the human system that has sustained them, forcing a debate over the science, emotion and economics of protecting these magnificent animals and the landscape they inhabit. At the center is a critical question: Did human kindness backfire, setting the elk up for disaster?

A federal lawsuit filed last year by a coalition of environmental groups charges that feeding the elk violates the Fish and Wildlife Service’s charter to manage refuges for healthy populations and biological integrity. Feeding programs, the suit argues, endanger the elk and create monocultures that degrade the landscape for other creatures, like birds, which can no longer nest on feeding grounds stripped of willows by the ravenous herd.

Biological threats that could devastate the elk are also looming on the horizon, especially chronic wasting disease, or C.W.D., a neural disorder that spreads by mutated proteins, not unlike mad cow disease. Chronic wasting disease, found in an infected moose last year only about 45 miles from Jackson, has moved in an inexorable line in recent years from Wyoming’s southeast corner, where it first appeared, to the rest of the state. The disease was discovered in Colorado in the 1960s.

Read the full story at the New York Times

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WASHINGTON STATE NEWS: State Considers Feeding Ban For Some Wildlife, Including Deer

DIAMOND POINT -- For the last three years, Jerry and Anne Stiles say they have been living with an infestation.

But it's not the creepy, crawly kind that infests their property.

The pests, they say, are deer.

They say the blacktail deer population near their home at Diamond Point has tripled because about three or four neighbors intentionally feed the animals regularly.

The result, they say, is that the deer that have lost their natural fear of people and have become increasingly aggressive.

That is why the couple testified at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee of the state Legislature in Olympia last week in support of House Bill 1885.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, at the request of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, would allow law enforcement to fine people $104 for feeding certain types of wildlife if they fail to heed an earlier warning.

Wildlife listed in Van De Wege's bill includes deer, bears, cougars, wolves, ¬ opossum, skunks, raccoons, elk and turkey.

The bill would exempt farmers and hunters who unintentionally feed those animals.

"We don't mind the deer, per se," said Anne Stiles, 55.

"It's the feeding and behavioral changes that are really alarming."

Jerry Stiles said the deer walk up to people expecting to be fed, and they can be aggressive.

Anne Stiles said deer have nearly attacked her four times.

One of those incidents occurred about a year ago when she was walking her small poodle-mix dog, she said.

A doe, about 75 feet up the road, began moving toward her in a threatening way, she said.

Jerry Stiles said that after he heard his wife scream, he ran outside with an umbrella to try to scare the doe off.

The doe ran into an adjacent lot -- "and the next thing I know, it was charging at me full force."

"I really thought she was going to kill me," Ann said.

"I froze, screaming."

Jerry Stiles said the deer didn't stop its charge until he opened the umbrella in front of his wife.

This, he said, startled the animal, which ran away.

Bruce Bjork, Fish and Wildlife enforcement chief, said the biggest problem with feeding wildlife is that they become "habituated."

"Once they get habituated, they lose their fear of humans . . . then we end up posing a public health and safety risk," Bjork said.

"They are causing more disease, and more aggressiveness causes potential harm to humans."

Bjork said he was not aware of a particular problem in the Diamond Point area.

He said Fish and Wildlife warn people of the dangers of feeding wildlife, but without approval of Van De Wege's bill, the department can't impose penalties.

Jerry and Anne Stiles said other neighbors have felt threatened by the neighborhood's aggressive deer, but they don't know of any people or pets who have been injured by the animals.

Jerry Stiles said they and other people who live in the community of about 500 homes have tried to talk their neighbors out of feeding the deer.

"We do like the deer," he said," but this is an infestation."

Source: Peninsula Daily News

NEVADA NEWS: Fractal Stupidity in Deer Management

Fractal stupidity - exhibiting stupidity at every level of analysis.

State wildlife officials have announced a plan to kill more mountain lions to help increase the deer population, a move criticized by animal advocates who say drought and development are more important factors in the decrease of deer numbers.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners told agency staff last week to employ the help of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services for the state wildlife department's new "program of intensive, sustained predator reduction."

Ken Mayer, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said his agency would use science to figure out the number of lions to be killed in areas where the predators have been found to adversely affect deer numbers.

"It's not an effort to exterminate mountain lions," Mayer said. "It's an effort to better manage lions with the prey base. Some hunters think the solution to the deer problem is to kill a lot of lions and the deer will come back."

The state's deer population fell from 240,000 in 1988 to 108,000 in 2008, while its current lion population ranges from 1,500 to 2,400, according to the wildlife department.

Nevada already allows lion hunts, each year issuing a quota of lion tags that a hunter can obtain. Commissioners set the quota at 306 tags for the year beginning March 1 and increased the number of tags allowed each hunter from two to three.

Lion advocates compared the new policy to the "Sarah Palin method of wildlife management," which wildlife biologist D.J. Schubert described as removing "animals with big teeth in order to promote the animals hunters like to shoot."

"It's an archaic form of wildlife management," said Schubert, of the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute. "Unfortunately, they're making the mountain lion a scapegoat, despite the importance of the mountain lion as a top-line predator in any ecosystem."

Palin, Alaska's governor, supports a predator control program that allows private citizens with permits to shoot wolves from the air in an effort to reverse a decline in moose and caribou numbers.

Don Molde, a former board member of the Defenders of Wildlife and a member of the Humane Society of the United States, called the plans "nonsense."

"This is a nonscientific effort to kill an animal just because they don't like it," he said. "It's an irrational dislike of an animal that has every right to live here."

He said similar programs in Washington, Oregon and New Mexico were cut back because of unintended damage to lion numbers.

Wildlife commissioner Scott Raine of Eureka said no one was trying to eliminate the population of mountain lions. He cited studies that showed lions eat one "deer-size"
animal a week.

"We just want to bring them down to a reasonable number, a sustainable number. Otherwise, deer will continue to die off," said Raine, a hunter.

In 2007, hunters killed 145 lions and Wildlife Services killed 37 lions in the state.
Commission chairman Gerald Lent did not return phone calls seeking comment over the weekend.

Source: AP (Google Hosted)

Monday, February 16, 2009

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Large Cull Planned for Valley Forge National Historical Park

When drivers approach Valley Forge National Historical Park from the south on Thomas Road, they're often greeted by hordes of attentive, long-eared hosts:

The animals don't run from the noise of car engines. They don't bolt at the prospect of human contact. They stand and stare.

Soon those sentries may be gone.

Valley Forge officials plan a massive sharpshooting operation to kill up to 1,300 deer during the next four years, eliminating more than 80 percent of the herd and maintaining a much smaller pack through contraceptives.

Administrators say lethal actions are necessary because deer are devouring so many plants, shrubs, and saplings that the forest cannot regenerate.

"Our goal is to restore a natural, healthy, functioning ecosystem," said Kristina Heister, park natural-resource manager. "We feel we need to act now, and we need to act quickly."

The first shoot would take place next winter. Federal employees or contractors would fire high-powered rifles mostly at night, dispatching deer baited to areas with apples and grain. The rifles would have silencers. Some shooting likely would take place during the day in areas closed to the public.

Technically, park administrators are considering four plans to manage deer, with options ranging from doing nothing to killing most of the herd. But they've already identified sharpshooting as the best alternative.

The period for public comment ends Tuesday.

Angry animal-rights activists insist that shooting the deer is unnecessary, unethical, and dangerous to nearby residents.

"Free-living animals can control their numbers, and they do control their numbers," said Lee Hall of Devon, legal director of the international advocacy group Friends of Animals. "The best way to enable them to do this is to respect how they are, and where they are, because nature works."

She's unsure whether the park's count of 1,023 deer is accurate. Even if it is, she said, to say there are too many deer is to impose a human construct on a vital, healthy group of animals governed by larger, natural forces. [Editors note: at 5.3 square miles, this is over 200 deer per square mile]

The deer at Valley Forge, Hall said, get all the blame for environmental degradation, which is at least partly caused by auto emissions, construction, and trampling tourists. The Friends of Animals has urged park managers to think about bloodless alternatives, such as extensive fencing - measures that administrators have rejected.

For the full story visit: The Inquirer