Monday, May 11, 2009

KENTUCKY NEWS: CWD-Based Ban on Deer and Elk Importation Unconstitutional

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the state's law banning the importation of deer and elk to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in local herds was unconstitutionally vague.

A three-judge panel ruled Friday that Kentucky's law did not clearly define what it means to "import" animals into the state. At issue was the case of a Tennessee man arrested in 2007 on charges of illegally importing elk and deer into Kentucky.

McCracken County Circuit Court Judge Craig Clymer had ruled previously that the state law under which Timothy Cory Looper was charged was unclear and thus void. Looper was not convicted.

"He engaged in no deception," Chief Judge Sara Combs wrote in Friday's opinion. "It is reasonable to believe that he drove through Kentucky in good faith — having no fair notice from a statute lacking the precision to alert as to the possibility of criminal consequences."

Kentucky lawmakers in 2006 instituted a statewide ban on the importation of the animals into Kentucky. The law, as enforced, prohibited people from crossing Kentucky state lines with deer or elk — a measure intended to protect local herds.

Looper, of Livingston, Tenn., was arrested in 2007 near Paducah while transporting animals from Hostetler Wildlife Farms in Miller, Mo., to Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey, Tenn. Looper was charged with six felony counts of illegally importing the animals into the state.

He had with him five elk, one deer, two antelope and 12 exotic sheep. The five elk and one deer were destroyed, according to the ruling.

Shane A. Young, Looper's attorney, said the law was poorly written and confusing. He said that made it difficult to understand exactly what was illegal.

The exact effect of Friday's appellate court ruling was uncertain. Attorneys for the state have the option of appealing to the state supreme court.

Bill Clary, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said the "practical consequences" of the ruling "are not very great.

Kentucky's law was also challenged in federal court in a lawsuit brought by the North American Deer Farmers Association. But a federal judge dismissed the challenge in September 2008.

Mark Marraccini, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a new law that takes effect this summer also bans the importation of members of the deer family into the state, but allows for exemptions.

For example, the law will allow the animals to be imported if they are from a herd that has been disease-free for five years and is from a disease-free state, Marraccini said.


RESEARCH NEWS: Economic Damage to Non-timber Forest Products

The nontimber forest products industry has been growing rapidly since the mid-1980s, contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy annually. Examples of nontimber forest products (NTFP) include edibles such as fruits and nuts, medicinal and herbal products, and specialty floral and decorative products. Standouts in the NTFP industry include U.S.-grown herbs used to satisfy increasing consumer demand for herbal medications.

American ginseng, for example, accounted for $32 million in U.S. export revenue to Asia during 1996. The emerging economic industry has its share of challenges, including the impact of wildlife that naturally inhabit forests where NTFPs grow. Of particular concern are white-tailed deer, which can reduce the quality, quantity, and profitability of NTFPs by "browsing" twigs and rubbing the stems of shrubs, trees, and plants.

When deer browse, or nibble on buds, twig-ends, and leaves of woody plants, shrubs and trees can be deformed, stunted, or, in the case of young plants, eaten completely. Deer browse year-round, but are most destructive during the winter when alternative foods are less available. Male white-tailed deer also rub the stems of trees and shrubs during autumn to remove velvet from their antlers and to communicate with other deer. Deer rubbing reduces the plants' health and can kill vulnerable trees and shrubs.
The financial impacts of deer browsing and rubbing on NTFPs, particularly woody ornamental plants, can be considerable. Heavily browsed tips or rubbed stems are not marketable, and thus are a direct loss to the grower. Losses of trees and shrubs due to deer damage can amount to over $2030/acre per year depending on the species.

To reduce damage and lessen economic losses, producers often turn to lethal and nonlethal techniques to control deer. Hunting is not always supported by the public, and may only be applicable in rural areas. Nonlethal techniques can be difficult to apply, expensive to implement, and are often temporary solutions; fences, repellents, and frightening devices provide varying degrees of success in reducing crop damage.
Researchers attempting to provide alternative solutions to deer damage to NTFPs are working to identify species of trees and shrubs that are not as attractive or even avoided by deer. Scott E. Hygnstrom from the University of Nebraska and research colleagues from New Mexico State University and the USDA National Wildlife Research Center published a study in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortTechnology that evaluated deer damage to 26 species of trees and shrubs.

"Our objectives were to determine the varying levels of deer damage sustained by 26 species of trees and shrubs; to relate morphological features of trees and shrubs to damage levels; and to evaluate the economic impacts of deer damage on the production of nontimber forest products", explained Hygnstrom.

The study was conducted at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center. The area included eight species of trees and 18 species of shrubs that produced commercially valuable nontimber forest products. The 40-acre complex was occupied by about 48 white-tailed deer per square mile during the study.

The team measured the frequency and intensity of browsing and rubbing by deer on various species of trees and shrubs after 1 year of growth. To assess the financial impacts of deer damage, the scientists recorded numbers of stems rendered unmarketable by deer browsing or rubbing while harvesting and processing selected woody florals in February and December 2001. The results showed that pussy willow suffered the least economic impact of deer browsing and rubbing; less than 1% of the total number of stems produced were rejected for market. High levels of damage were documented for 'Blood-twig' dogwood (more than 21% of the stems were rejected). Losses per year due to combined damage by browsing and rubbing amounted to about $26/acre for pussy willow, $2031/acre for 'Blood-twig' dogwood, and $1595/acre for curly willow.

The research also revealed that leaving some NTFPs (especially dogwood) in the field until late winter considerably increases the percentage of stems rendered unmarketable due to deer browsing. Harvesting these products in late fall and early winter can substantially reduce the percentage of stems damaged by deer.

Source: Science Daily

MISSOURI NEWS: Deer Enters Airport, Chaos Ensues

Early morning passengers probably took a double-take this morning after a deer somehow got into and wandered through Terminal A at Kansas City International airport.

The deer was seen running through the terminal around 5:45 a.m. today before it was locked into an office for US Airways, according to Joe McBride, an airport spokesman.

Airport officials are waiting for representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to arrive and tranquilize the deer so it can be removed, McBride said.

Authorities are not sure how the deer got into the terminal. In the past, however, wildlife have walked up the airport’s terminals, triggering the opening of the doors.

“I’m sure there were some early morning passengers who when they saw the deer wondered if they had enough coffee,” McBride said.

Source: Kansas City Star