Thursday, March 26, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: Record Deer Harvest in 2008

A record 253,678 deer were checked in by hunters in Virginia in 2008, topping 242,792 deer reported killed last year and 16 percent higher than the average of 212,780 deer killed by hunters over the last decade. This number should go even higher once deer taken during the late urban archery or special late antlerless-only deer seasons are tabulated.

Deer take is up in all regions and especially higher in the Tidewater, which notched an 8 percent increase. Overall, 111,863 antlered bucks, 22,291 button bucks and 119,524 does were recorded. Does made up 47.3 percent of the overall harvest.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries provided a breakout of the deer kill by season. Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 17,881 deer, or 7 percent of the total. Crossbow hunters took 9,597 deer or 4 percent of the total. Muzzleloader hunters killed 57,038 deer, which equates to 22 percent of the total deer harvest.

The telephone and Internet checking systems have been seeing about a 4 percent increase in use since 2004-05, and this past season saw 160,000 deer (or 63 percent of the total) checked this way.

Virginia's deer management plan emphasizes taking does as a means of stabilizing herd populations. Female deer kill numbers have been at record levels for the past six years and, for the past two deer seasons, the overall harvest increases have come from antlerless deer.

Beyond having liberal antlerless bag limits and emphasizing the need for doe harvest, programs such as the "Earn a Buck" regulation require hunters to kill antlerless deer before taking an antlered buck in some localities. Below is a table depicting harvest trends in the Fredericksburg region.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: So Where Did All Of Those Deer Come From?

Virginia’s suburbanites and farmers often complain about the number of deer in the road and in the crops, but nobody knows where all those deer came from. Radford University biology professor Bob Sheehy aims to find out.

Naturally, he’s asking his students to help him with the task.

Sheehy is using his genetics class and the 35 students in it to examine the DNA of Virginia’s deer population in hopes of tracing its varied roots. He has also put hunters to work gathering slivers of deer DNA for the students to scrutinize.

What makes the result of the research likely to be intriguing is that much of Virginia’s deer population can be traced to other states: deer all but disappeared from western Virginia at the beginning of the 20th century, prompting the state to bring in deer from elsewhere.

Thirteen deer from West Virginia, for instance, were released in Rockingham County in 1926. Ten deer from North Carolina were let go in Washington County in 1930 and 1931. And, as the program expanded, hundreds more were released in counties west of the Blue Ridge from Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the following decades.

Altogether, one academic count showed, nearly 2,800 deer were brought to Virginia from other states by 1970, successfully restoring deer to the state.

Now, Sheehy and his students hope to learn how the populations have mingled — if they have — and if they have migrated. Beyond the basic scientific understanding, Sheehy said, is the hands-on knowledge of DNA that students will get from analyzing fingernail-size pieces of deer.

“I’m always trying to find ways to introduce students to genetic variability at the molecular level,“ Sheehy said. “They often find it obtuse. I thought using deer would be great because there’s a ready supply of deer.“

One student who said he is getting a lot out of the project is Jon Hirst, a 22-year-old junior and a graduate of Thomas Dale High School in Chester. “I’ve actually learned a lot more in the lab than in the lectures. It’s showing you rather than telling you about it. And Professor Sheehy is very excited about genetics.“

Sheehy said he hopes to receive samples of DNA from the states that sent deer to Virginia so his students can determine the basic genetic markers — the stuff that makes them unique — of each population. Then, year after year, new classes of students will participate in the project, building a database of deer DNA from throughout Virginia.

“This is real research for the students,“ Sheehy said, “and somebody will use the data further down the line.“

Source: Lynchburg News Advance

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Morris Township Cull Nets 178 Deer

Volunteer hunters killed 178 deer during a recently completed herd-thinning program held in a northern New Jersey town.

Morris Township officials wouldn't disclose the specific locations where the hunts were held, saying only that they occurred in open fields and near residential areas. They say no problems were reported.

The culling, which took place between November and February, was done by 25 volunteers armed with bows and arrows. Township officials told The Daily Record of Parsippany that 150 of the deer were female _ including 14 fawns _ and 28 were male.

This was the fourth year that hunts were staged in the township, which has always used volunteers.

Source: Newsday