Friday, June 05, 2009

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: Deer Browsing on Mayapple

Last weekend a student of mine was out in south central Ohio, where she observed a significant amount of deer browsing on mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). There is no question it was deer (and not a mower or slugs or groundhogs).

This is something I have not observed directly. Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is lethal to people in relatively small doses. LD50s for mice and rabbits are 100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg, respectively.

Any observations (both observations of browsing and observations of never having seen the plant browsed) would be appreciated. Please include your location (western North Carolina, southeastern Maine, etc.).

MICHIGAN NEWS: Another Good Year for Deer Hunters, But U.P. Harvest Down

The number of deer killed during the 2008 hunting season rose slightly statewide, but fell nearly 11 percent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Mining Journal of Marquette reports Thursday that 480,638 deer were taken last fall, up from 476,595 in 2007. That's an increase of just under 1 percent, although the buck harvest was down 7.1 percent.

In the U.P., the Department of Natural Resources says 51,769 deer were killed last fall, down from 57,988 in 2007.

DNR wildlife biologist Brian Frawley says nearly 694,000 people took part in the hunt.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

CHINA NEWS: Overabundant Pythons Threaten Rare Deer

And now for something completely different: a species of deer impacted by an overabundant native species.

Chinese conservationists say rapid the propagation of pythons at a nature reserve in south China's Hainan Province has endangered the increase of a rare deer species living there.

Both conservationists and researchers are at a loss to offer efficient ways that will guarantee a success in protection of the rare deer species, Eld's deer or Cervus eldi hainanus in Latin, while reining in the population of pythons from fast propagation around Datian Nature Reserve in southwestern part of Hainan.

Pythons and Eld's deer are both listed for top state protection in China, according to Xu Shiying, chief of the administration for Datian Nature Reserve.

Datian Nature Reserve, which is in Dongfang City and a rainforest base, was established in 1976 with the mission to protect Eld's deer, which used to be on the verge of extinction.

The number of the rare deer species has increased and topped 1,600 at Datian Nature Reserve thanks to conservation efforts in the past three decades.

The exact number of pythons in this nature reserve, however, is not known.

Datian is now home to 690 deer after conservation workers have moved some of the deer to other nature reserves on the island province, according to Xu.

"We have been patroling the nature reserve and found that the actual number of fawns is far below 100," Xu said.

Conservation workers have spotted deer remains in the pythons' manure. One python was found dead in April 2008 as its belly was burst open by an antlered buck it had swallowed earlier. Another python was also found in early May to have swallowed a muntjac, a kind of minor deer species, according to Xu.

"We can't kill pythons for the sake of protecting Eld's deer, so the only thing we can do is to move pythons elsewhere as long as we find them at Datian," said Xu.

Conservation workers have found and moved 28 pythons from Datian Nature Reserve to Hainan Python Institute since 2007.

Zhang Liling, head of Hainan Python Institute, said it was necessary to have pythons around Datian Nature Reserve to keep an ecological balance there.

"Pythons don't have a natural enemy around Datian, but without the presence of pythons, rabbits, wild boars and other rodents will propagate at an even alarming speed and will eat away limited food sources that Eld's deer depend on," said Zhang, who is also a professor with animal science department of Hainan University.

According to Zhang, female pythons produce 20 to 50 eggs each year, of which, 70 to 80 percent could be hatch successfully.

While echoing Xu's stand about the need to restrict the number of pythons in Datian for the sake of maintaining an ecological balance in the nature reserve, Zhang failed to come up with a clear vision of how to do so.

Experts say Eld's deer, a sub-species of swamp deer and also known as "slope deer," among the locals, were living on Hainan four million years ago, long before any human activity on the island. They numbered just 26 by 1976 as a result of increased human activity and environmental degradation.

The government identified Eld's deer for top protection in 1988. It has been listed as one of the world's most endangered species by the World Conservation Union or the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The natural habitat area for the rare deer species in Hainan Island, including Datian nature reserve, has increased from 1,314 hectares in 1976 to 20,000 hectares, alongside a rise in the population in the deer species.

Source: xinhuanet

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

OHIO NEWS: City Approves Bowhunting Ordinance to Control Deer

Heath City Council on Monday approved an ordinance to permit bowhunting of deer in selected areas of the city.

Residents have complained for many months about deer crossing roads, getting hit by vehicles and damaging property in residential areas.

The massive herd in the city has been estimated at more than 100 deer per square mile, or more than 1,000 within city limits. The mayor said it might take five years to get the numbers cut in half to about 500.

The city administration will organize the program for bowhunting season, which generally begins in October.

Source: Newark Advocate

TEXAS NEWS: New Law Allows Farmers to Hunt Deer All Year

A bill aimed at reducing damage to crops by limiting whitetail deer in fields was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Rick Perry. Authored by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, House Bill 1965 was the culmination of several years of work initiated by Concho Valley farmers.

When an increased deer population nibbled away an estimated 60 percent of the 2005 cotton crop across the Lipan Flats east of San Angelo, Tom Green County Farm Bureau members voted to send a resolution to the annual state convention asking for help to save the 2006 cotton crop.

Long story short, the Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm and ranch organization, endorsed the issue and brought the deer problem to the attention of the Texas Legislature. After some wrestling, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department established a pilot program to allow farmers to shoot grazing deer out of season with a special permit.

Gene Gully, a Lipan Flats cotton grower and past president of Tom Green County Farm Bureau, said only two farmers registered to participate in the test pilot program in 2005. He said the farmers were required to give the venison to needy folks or food-handling charities. The biggest problem with that, he said, was field-dressing the harvested animals in hot weather and finding a cooler for the carcass while locating people who wanted the meat.

Gully said the deer problem was twice as bad in summers with the dry weather driving them to anything green. He said the irrigated cotton was the deer’s major target on his farm near Mereta, about 15 miles east of San Angelo, until a neighbor’s maize started heading out. “They like maize better than cotton,” he said.

Farmers in eastern Tom Green and western Concho counties are excited about the pilot program becoming permanent, Gully told me on Monday. “The new law will allow the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to immediately begin issuing permits to control the deer,” he said. “No one wants to eradicate the deer. We just want to control them by limiting their access to our fields.”

Gully said farmers will be allowed to harvest deer year-round that are destroying crops, provided they don’t waste the carcass. In turn, farmers are determined to find ways to work with meat processors to save the venison.

“This legislation will remove some of the more cumbersome and unnecessary aspects of the current permitting process for controlling wildlife, and would authorize the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission to develop new criteria for the program,” Darby said.

Sutton Page of San Angelo, Texas Farm Bureau field representative for the Concho Valley and the Big Country, said some cotton farmers with fields that border pastureland resorted to building high fences around their cotton fields several years ago.

“Although the high fencing has helped to keep deer out of some cotton fields, it is very expensive and in many situations only allows the deer to double up on neighboring fields not fenced,” Page said.

Darby said the wildlife bill drew support from not only the Texas Farm Bureau, but also the Texas Wildlife Association, the Exotic Wildlife Association and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Source: Go San Angelo