Friday, August 07, 2009

DELAWARE NEWS: Some Residents Not Receptive to Deer Hunt in Wilmington

The feedback from the public was both pro and con Thursday at a forum to consider permitting bow hunting of deer within the city limits of Wilmington. But more residents spoke against the idea than in favor.

Wilmington Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Mike Wallace, at the close of the forum, said he thinks city officials need to keep the issue on the table. He proposed holding a Parks and Recreation Committee meeting to discuss the matter further, but added he doesn’t know when the committee would have some sort of deer control program to present to the full council for consideration.

Larry Reinsmith, who lives in the Timber Glen subdivision in the southern part of town, said the key to success for residents who are unhappy about deer feeding on flowers and other plants in their yards is “to understand deer are here to stay and property owners have a responsibility to take steps that will ease conflicts with them.”

Last year, there were eight deer crashes in the city, said Reinsmith, down from 16 the year before.

He also said there has been material distributed regarding Lyme disease and deer “trying to instill fear into the public.” But he said Lyme disease is easily treatable and moreover, there has been no reported case in Clinton County since 2004, when there was one reported incident, citing data from the Clinton County Health Department.

Barb Wells said her family is not opposed to hunting but is opposed to hunting within the city limits.

She feels hunting should stay outside the city limits “where it has traditionally been for years.”

“After living in the south end of town for more than 40 years, I haven’t noticed an increase in deer problems,” Wells said.

Hunting “domesticated” deer that have become accustomed to humans “doesn’t seem like much of a sport to me,” Wells said.

Bob Thobaben, who is not a resident of Wilmington, said, “If you allow nature to take its course, there is no control.”

Nick Babb, who is safety director for Wilmington, said “you can’t legislate where arrows go.”

Greg Keeton said staff at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are the wildlife population management professionals. Other residential communities have utilized bow hunting of deer within town “with great success.”

Bob Schaeffing said he has planted flowers that deer aren’t supposed to eat, but they did.

Deer will multiply, said Schaeffing, adding he is “really concerned” about the issue. Permitting bow hunting would help, at least in part, because “deer will move away from pressure.”

Cathie Spilker said she takes her dog out to the woods on walks and she doesn’t want it to be struck by an arrow. Deer move, she said, but an arrow continues on its same trajectory.

Wilmington City Council needs to be concerned that it could be opening itself up to liability and a lawsuit if there were an accident, Spilker said.

Scott Kirchner said he is “not even sure” the deer population in town is a problem. He said he has lived on South Mulberry Street near the bike path and Sugar Grove Cemetery and he hasn’t seen a “grand increase in deer.”

But Kirchner said he’s aware people need to be cognizant of managing the deer herd.

There are no safe answers in addressing the deer population growth, said Kim Hilderbrand of Wilmington.

At the conclusion of the forum, Wilmington Mayor David Raizk said the administration’s number one concern will be the health and safety of the citizens, and that this concern will come before property concerns.

Source: Wilmington News Journal

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

KANSAS NEWS: Animal Rights Group to Defend 200 Deer Per Square Mile

A new animal-rights group is pledging to defend the deer in Shawnee Mission Park.

Jason Miller, founder of Bite Club of KC, recently asked to meet with the staff of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District to discuss their concerns. Miller said that request was turned down.

So, he and his group plan to show up at the next park board meeting Aug. 19 and present those concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting. A demonstration is also planned.

In a unanimous vote last month, the board approved a plan to employ sharpshooters and bow hunters to solve the problem of too many deer in Shawnee Mission Park.

The board wants to reduce the herd from about 200 deer per square mile to 50—- a 75 percent reduction.

“If the deer herd in Shawnee Mission Park is not culled or reduced as humanely as possible, Mother Nature will do so,” said Michael Meadors, park district director. “And I believe it will be less humane—through starvation or worse, disease that could wipe out the entire herd.”

The Bite Club, on the other hand, said the park district’s plan amounts to animal cruelty.

“We have several serious concerns about the legality, not to mention the ethics, of the board’s decision to slaughter deer in Shawnee Mission Park,” Miller said in a recent e-mail.

The group’s motto: “Activism with a bite.”

Miller is also a press officer for a national organization, North American Animal Liberation.

Source: Kansas City Star

WISCONSIN NEWS: Prevalence of CWD Jumps Up

The rate of chronic wasting disease infection in Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd increased last year.

The prevalence rate for adult bucks 2 1/2 years or older in the first epicenter of the outbreak, which covers mostly western Dane County and eastern Iowa County, increased from 10% in 2007 to 15.5% last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Natural Resources.

The infection rate for yearling bucks increased from 3% to 6% in the same period.

Chronic wasting disease was first discovered in Wisconsin in 2002. Since then, DNR officials have analyzed almost 152,000 deer, with 1,172 free-ranging deer testing positive for the always-fatal nervous system disease.

"Five to 10 years in the future, we will know better whether this was just a one-year blip on the chart or the beginning of a trend of increasing disease prevalence in Wisconsin," population ecologist Robert Rolley said in a statement.

Researchers used sophisticated statistical techniques that adjust for factors such as age and gender to estimate infection rates, which appear to vary randomly from one year to the next. But evidence points to a general trend of a 4% infection increase each year in Wisconsin.

Chronic wasting disease has been discovered in wild deer or elk herds in 11 states and two Canadian provinces. All of the infected free-ranging deer in Wisconsin have been found in two areas: the south-central region of Dane and Iowa counties, and a spot in southeastern Wisconsin that's part of a chronic wasting disease area in northern Illinois.

Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Monday, August 03, 2009

MIDWESTERN US NEWS: Lyme Disease on the Rise

MINNEAPOLIS - Deer ticks are expanding their range in the Upper Midwest, increasing the threat of disease to hikers and others tramping through the region's woods.

Public health officials say it's happening in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and southern Canada. The number of Lyme disease cases has been growing with the expansion.

No one is sure why the range is growing, but there's growing suspicion that subtle changes in the climate are tipping the ticks' complicated ecosystems toward expansion.

Health officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin are trying to get funding to test that theory.

Officials agree that it's not enough to keep people out of the woods, but they say outdoors enthusiasts should be smart and take precautions against tick bites.

Source: Chi Tribune

UZBEKISTAN NEWS: Bukhara Deer Reintroduced Along Syr Darya River

For almost half a century, the Bukhara deer -- a species endemic to Central Asia -- had not been seen in the wild in the forests along the Syr Darya river. But the species has now returned to Kazakhstan's southern Turkestan district with the recent release of ten deer into their traditional habitat.

The animals, bred in a pen set up in 2001, were released in late May by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and local conservationists.

Olga Pereladova, the director of WWF's Central Asia Program in Moscow, explains that the last of the Bukhara deer in the Syr Darya valley were killed in 1962. “Since then, there have been no deer at all. It was not only a problem of the animals' elimination, but a problem of destruction of habitats because a lot of riparian forests were cut down," Pereladova said.

The deer will continue to be fed for several months to help them adapt to life in the wild, their new territory, and a change in diet.

Pereladova says the sanctuary offers good protection during the adaptation period. The territory forms a peninsula surrounded by the waters of the Syr Darya and is fenced off from people living on nearby farms.

During the eight years of preparation for the release, funding of up to $15,000 a year was provided mainly by WWF Netherlands. Norway's government and the Kazakh regional government have also been contributing.

The Bukhara deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus) is ash gray, with yellowish highlights and a grayish-white rump patch. The male deer have antlers. The animals’ habitat includes Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The WWF has been working since 1999 to save the species in cooperation with local communities and officials across the region. Pereladova says the population has since increased from only 350 to 1,300.

Successful Strategy

That's partly thanks to a series of successful reintroductions.

In 2007, a group of deer was released in Uzbekistan's Zarafshan Nature Reserve. The animals, raised in nearby pens, were the second group to be set free in the reserve, following a successful release in 2005.

A similar release took place in 2007 in Kazakhstan's Altyn Emel National Park, on the right bank of the Ili River. The animals came from a game reserve located on the other bank of the river.

"In Zarafshan, they're reproducing very well and the released groups are already contacting the group of deer in the Tajik part of the [river] valley,” Pereladova said. “So we hope for the sustainable establishment of the population. But new releases are planned because we again have extra animals in the pens. In Altyn Emel, newborns were seen."

Pereladova says a transfer of deer was also planned in the lower regions of the Amu Darya River in Uzbekistan.

"The Badaitugai Nature Reserve is overpopulated, [while in] downstream Amu Darya, new sites of riparian forests have developed, and [deer] can be released there,” she said. “There is now a UNDP [United Nations Development Program] project ongoing in a system of protected areas of development of the Amu Darya Delta. Together with them, we are planning these translocations."

The Bukhara deer lives in Central Asia's riparian forests, which are characterized by thickets of trees and grassy clearings interspersed with wetlands. These forests, locally known as tugai, are located on the floodplains of rivers.

Overgrazing, agriculture, and illegal logging have contributed significantly to the destruction of the tugai. The problem is particularly acute along the Amu Darya River in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Pereladova says, however, that riparian forests are recovering fast along the Syr Darya, which lies primarily in Kazakhstan.

A number of protected areas have been established to preserve tugai ecosystems across the region.

One of them is the Beshai Palangon (which means "the forest of tigers" in Tajik) Nature Reserve in southern Tajikistan, between the Vakhsh and Pyandj rivers.

The reserve's chief, Nuriddin Saifulloev, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the Bukhara deer population there has increased to 18.

"When I was appointed head of the reserve [three years ago], we brought in 14 deer,” Saifulloev said. “They were very little. Now they are living freely in the reserve. Their life is very good. Some of them gave birth to fawns, so there are baby deer now."

Unbroken Habitat

Late last year, 100,000 hectares were included as buffer zones around the reserve. Pereladova calls the move "very important," saying it unites a previously fragmented protected territory.

Since 2007, WWF says that thanks to funding from Norway's government, it has improved the water drainage system in the reserve and surrounding areas. Canals were cleaned to ensure water flow from rivers to the tugai lakes and allow the recovery of the lakes, forest, and populations of various species.

But Saifulloev warns that the Bukhara deer and its habitat still need better protection. He says that the population has disappeared in Tajikistan's Romit Nature Reserve, while only a few animals remain in the Qarotogh Nature Refuge.

Pereladova says Central Asian states have demonstrated their commitment to preserve the Bukhara deer and tugai, despite often limited resources.

Central Asian governments are “doing what they can and sometimes even more than they can, initiating activities for which they don't have enough funding, but anyway trying to do what is possible; and applying for support,” she said. “So it's not that we're coming and doing something from outside, but we are combining our efforts."

But she says education among the local populations and winning their participation in nature conservancy work is crucial, and begins with educating children.

"When we started work, the habitats suffered from illegal logging, grazing, etc. And people didn't know what Bukhara deer was. They had forgotten it. Now all of them know it,” Pereladova said.

“Children participated in special actions, collecting winter forage for our deer, and they transferred this knowledge to their parents,” she continued. “In Turkmenistan, go along the border of the [Amu Darya Nature Reserve and] talk to people: they know what the [Bukhara deer] is, why it is protected, and [they say] it is an honor for them that they have saved their national heritage."

Source: Radio Free Europe

IOWA NEWS: Marshalltown to Begin Urban Deer Hunting

The city of Marshalltown is reminding those interested in the upcoming deer hunt inside the city limits that some safety classes are coming up that are required for participation.

Permits will not go on sale until Aug. 26, but bow hunters wanting to hunt within the city limits will be required to take the Bow Hunter Safety Education course as well as pass a proficiency test. All classes being offered are between Aug. 15-25.

These are the only classes available for bow hunters between now and the beginning of the city's hunting season.

Because this is the first year bow hunting will be allowed, Terry Gray, director of the Marshalltown Parks & Recreation Department, said the city will be watching the entire process very closely.

"We really don't know what to expect," she said.

There are two ways to take the safety education course. The whole class can be taken on site or a portion of the course may be taken online and the second portion, the field day, can be taken at the on site class. A listing of the classes available can be found at

None are available in Marshalltown at this time, and Gray said that might hurt participation a little bit. Most of the classes being offered are only the field day portion which requires the participant to take the online bow course. Early registration is recommended.

Any proficiency test by a certified International Education Foundation (IBEF/NBEF) instructor will be accepted. Proof is required. At this time, no test is available in Marshalltown.

Once a hunter has completed the course and proficiency test, a permit to hunt within the city limits must be obtained at the Marshalltown Parks and Recreation office. The permit fee costs $10.

The permit will then enable the hunter to get an urban hunting license available at the General Store, 116 E. Church St. There are 75 licenses available.

Additional deer hunting licenses will also be available around Marshalltown's perimeter.

The goal is to reduce the deer population inside the city.

"One thing we are doing is antlerless deer only," Gray said. "The bucks are the prize, but we are doing this to control the deer population. It's not for sport."

Source: Times Republican

INDIANA NEWS: TB Found in Captive Deer, Wild Deer Tested

The Department of Natural Resources has collected around 30 white-tailed deer in Franklin County this past week. The concern? The spread of tuberculosis into wild populations.

So far, three facilities in southeast Indiana have captive deer that have tested positive for the disease. After the deer‘s carcasses are collected they will be transported to the animal disease diagnostic laboratory at Purdue university.

There is only a remote chance of humans contracting the disease from animals, and the risk decreases further when proper food handling and cooking procedures are used.

Source: WCSI Radio

NEW YORK NEWS: Deer Management Options Mulled for Green Lakes State Park

Deer here, deer there -- deer everywhere.

That's one thing that most people seem to agree on when it comes to the deer at Green Lakes State Park in the town of Manlius.

But are there too many deer? And should hunting be allowed to reduce their numbers?

It's an emotional issue and some people tie both topics together. Others feel they should be handled separately. The question about what to do with the deer is being discussed now because the state is currently formulating a new, 25-year master plan for the park and is seeking input.

A recent public hearing brought out strong feelings about the park's deer, and in particular the hunting issue. Nothing's been decided yet.

Among the key, deer-related discussion points are the high number of deer/motor vehicle accidents around the park, the fact that the park has been identified as ground zero in Central New York for the deer-carried Lyme disease tick and the fact that many surrounding homeowners are tired of having their shrubs and flowers munched on by deer.

And the most emotional: Are park users who hike, bike, bird, shoe and cross-country ski in the 1,900-acre park willing to share its use with hunters?

But first, just how many deer are there at Green Lakes State Park?

That's right. And that figures into the state parks department official position.

A total of 24 were spotted along roads in the park and just off Route 290 during a recent, early morning, one-hour visit by this reporter. Park officials said it's not uncommon to see herds of 10 to 20 deer in the late fall, winter and early spring.

"How many deer? That's an honest question that we can't answer," said Jim Semar, the park's manager for 19 months. "What we need to do is have a deer count."

His boss, Robert Hibrandt, assistant regional director for the state park's Central Region, agreed. "Everything is moot until that question, 'Are there too many deer?' is answered. And only then will we have the discussion whether we have hunting or not."

A wildlife survey was proposed several years ago by the town of Manlius, in conjunction with SUNY ESF officials. It never happened.

David Riehlman, a senior wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said "something" has to be done to manage the park's deer.

"There's certainly evidence of a high number of animals in there. Most anyone looking at the park grounds would say deer are having some impact on the vegetation in the park," he said.

But will a study answer everyone's questions? Probably not, said Brian Underwood, a wildlife biologist with the United States Geology Survey who has looked at this issue at national parks across the country. He said the answer comes down to a mix of scientific and social concerns.

"There's no magic number. The truth is there's plenty of food there for the deer. If there wasn't there wouldn't be that many deer there," he said. "I've seen 300 deer per square mile supported by mowed lawns. The question is do you want to have that many deer?

A host of accidents

The town of Manlius, which includes the villages of Manlius, Fayetteville and Minoa, is a fast-growing residential area. As undeveloped land disappears, the deer in the area continue to gravitate to the park and other open land, officials said.

Captain Jason Cassalia of the Town of Manlius Police Department acknowledged his municipality has "a lot" of deer/motor vehicle accidents.

"Last year of the 842 total accidents in our town -- which includes the town and the village of Manlius, Fayetteville and Minoa -- 114 of them were car/deer accidents," he said.

On the highly traveled roads surrounding the park (Routes 5, 257 and 290), he added, there were 33.

Along one stretch of Route 290, the state has put up Swareflex reflectors, which are supposed to reflect car lights off the road and into the woods into the deer's eyes.

"Basically, they don't work very well," said Underwood, who recently oversaw a SUNY ESF graduate student's study on deer car accidents in Onondaga County.

Nuisance permits, sterilization

Private landowners with excessive deer problems can get "nuisance permits" issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to bring in sharp shooters, or that allows them to take the multiple deer out themselves over a short period of time. Such a permit has never been issued for a Central New York park, state park officials said. Other areas have tried the sterilization approach to reduce deer numbers. "To date, none have proven to be practical or effective," a DEC official said.

Lyme disease

It's not news that county health department officials, doctors and veterinarians have essentially tagged Green Lakes State Park as "Ground Zero" for Lyme Disease in Central New York. The tick-borne disease moves from area to area carried by deer.

This year appears to be the worst deer tick and Lyme disease seasons yet in Central New York. A local dermatologist was quoted recently by The Post-Standard as saying he had 10 patients with Lyme disease, with seven believed to come from Green Lakes State Park.

Last year, a state Health Department study found that 63 percent of the deer ticks collected from Green Lakes in the summer of 2008 were infected with the bacteria, compared to an infection rate of 30 percent earlier in the year.

Typical symptoms for humans include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Most cases can be treated with antibiotics.

In dogs, symptoms include lameness, fever, swollen joints, anorexia and kidney failure and can be fatal. Dogs can be vaccinated. There's nothing on the market, though, for humans.

Will it do any good now to take out a sizeable chunk of the park's deer herd?

Experts say it's too late. The ticks have established themselves by using all available, warm-blooded hosts, including small rodents, rabbits, skunks and raccoons. The best tool in controlling the disease at this point, officials said, is education -- specifically, taking the proper precautions when recreating in the area. Warnings are posted throughout the park.

Managing the munching

Anybody living next to Green Lakes State Park is aware of the large numbers of deer that wander into nearby residential areas throughout the year to munch on shrubs, small trees and flowers.

Town Supervisor Mark Tetley said his house borders the park.

"My neighborhood is frustrated," he said. "It's difficult to have any shrubs or plantings out. It's a difficult problem. You have so many people on different sides of it."

However, Tetley, who's been in office for two years, said he "hasn't seen a groundswell yet," of residents demanding something be done about the deer."

Sister Margaret Patrick, administrator at the Spirituality and Nature Center at Alverna Heights -- a 160-acre Catholic spiritual retreat center that's embedded on one side of the park -- said they've had to put caging and tubing around many of the retreat's "memorial trees."

"And we spray garlic spray on the trees, that seems to protect them," she said. "They (the deer) are not super destructive for us. We don't have massive gardens like people in some of the houses (surrounding the park)."

So, what about hunting?

Outdoorsman Charlie Pace successfully lobbied for bow hunting at Selkirk Shores State Park in Oswego County. He and others would like to see Green Lakes State Park opened up as well.

"The argument is not about deer management," he said. "It's about providing another recreational opportunity at the park."

He said parks officials should not be so concerned about managing the deer numbers, adding that their job is to provide recreational opportunities and to protect the fauna and flora of the park. Managing deer numbers, he said, is the DEC's job.

He pointed out Bowman Lake State Park in Chenango County, and the county-run, Highland Forest in Tully both allow hunting. Specific accommodations have been made to appease other park users, such as restricting it to a specific area, special hunting days, no permanent tree stands and no ATVs.

"Say you only opened it up for three weeks (for hunting). Had a permit system. Only 10 to 30 guys. Or maybe just handicapped guys. Or even one guy. Either way, it would be an increase in the recreational use of that park," he said.

He said park officials and other critics point to safety concerns. He bristled at comments made at the recent public hearing that high school cross country runners training in the park might be injured themselves by a misdirected or stray arrow.

"If safety is such a concern ... you have cross country kids in shorts and T-shirts running through there all the time. Are they taking all the precautions (for Lyme Disease)?," he said. "And show me where there's been such accidents in state parks (involving hunting)."

Semar, who manages the park, has a unique perspective. Before coming to Green Lakes, he managed Bowman and Selkirk state parks.

He acknowledged none of them had any problems with hunters. He also noted that each park is different because of its layout, its use and access points to various areas.

"The areas open to hunting in Selkirk and Bowman, they weren't used that much in the first place," he said. Those two parks, including Highland Forest, are in more rural areas, often bordered by undeveloped land where hunting is allowed."

At Green Lakes, the park is surrounded by a great deal of residential development, with various communities having directed access through public and privately owned trailheads.

If hunting was to be allowed, Semar said, it would make sense to have it on the park's undeveloped, 500-acre, western half. However, that area contains a number of trails used extensively by hikers, joggers, bikers, birders, cross country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts.

Semar said the public's input on the park's use carries a lot of weight in regard to what's to be done with the deer and whether hunting should be allowed.

"It's their park. It's a big issue," he said. "People are pro-hunting, but there's a lot of people who use the park who don't want hunting.