Wednesday, September 02, 2009

OHIO NEWS: Oxford to Establish Deer Harvesting Pilot Program

More than a year after first trying to tackle Oxford’s deer surplus, the city is considering the establishment of a deer harvesting pilot program for later this fall.

City Manager Doug Elliott said the tentative plan is to send 15 local hunters onto specific city-owned properties to eliminate up to two antlerless deer each. Hunters will be able to use either a bow and arrow or crossbow, but will be required to hunt from tree stands as an added safety measure.

While 30 deer might seem like a small drop in a rather large bucket, Elliott said his goal is to restore a healthy balance of deer to the area over the span of several years rather than eliminate as many as possible in one shot.

“I don’t think it will have much of an impact in the first year,” Elliott said. “I think after two or three years residents will hopefully start to notice that the deer aren’t as frequently in their backyards.”

With the state deer population reportedly surging from 17,000 in 1970 to more than 700,000 in 2005, Elliott said Oxford citizens have been voicing concern over the increasing number of deer sightings within city limits. Elliott said recent years have seen Butler County ranking among the top 10 counties as it relates to deer-vehicle collisions. His hope is to not only help lower that number, but also reduce damage to vegetation and prevent the potential spread of Lyme disease.

“We feel like we need to do something to restore a more natural balance,” he said. “We don’t plan to eliminate all of the whitetail deer in town. Our goal here is to put forth this pilot program and see how it works, what kind of reception we get from the public and how successful we are.”

City-approved hunters will be able to harvest as many as two antlerless deer, but Elliott said the first deer taken by every participant will be donated to the Community Meal Center in Hamilton. Processing fees for the donated deer will be covered through a grant secured by the Community Meal Center, with Schaefer’s Deer Processing in Trenton handling the donated meat.

Costs for the program will be minimal, with Elliott predicting less than $1,000 needed to cover permits for the donated deer.

One area resident who doesn’t seem thrilled with the idea is Jeff MacDonald, owner of Ace Hardware. MacDonald first broached the concept of thinning the local deer herd to City Council members last summer, but said he isn’t convinced the proposed program will put an end to deer-related problems.

“I don’t think hunting in the Oxford acreage is going to be effective, but at least it’ll be an experiment,” MacDonald said. “We’ve got to get in town and create a safe, acceptable, citizen-approved way to control deer. And that’s a goal that I’m more than willing to work for.”

Source: Oxford Press

MICHIGAN NEWS: Grand Haven Ponders More Culling

Grand Haven officials will hold a conference call with representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources today to discuss details of proposed deer culls this fall and winter.

City officials have made a verbal request with the DNR to resume hunts using certified sharpshooters to thin the urban deer population.

Sara Schaefer, a wildlife supervisor for the DNR, said she told city officials to file an official request in writing. That request would include specific details, such as how many deer would be targeted and where the hunts would be held.

Schaefer said the conference call will give the city direction in applying for the permit. She said the city's application will be approved because the DNR believes Ottawa County's deer population has grown beyond acceptable levels.

She said investigations into several habitats in Grand Haven have proven deer are destroying natural vegetation -- such as the flowering trillium -- while causing erosion to critical dunes.

The areas of the city with the most deer are near Lake Forest Cemetery and Harbor Island -- both on the city's west side. Deer also have been spotted on the city's east side.

Schaefer said city officials have indicated they would like to resume culls as early as this month.

Supporters of city-authorized sharpshooters thinning the herd say deer populations have escalated to unhealthy levels. They say deer are destroying private property, especially gardens and expensive landscaping. They add that deer have moved closer to the city center, causing public safety threats to drivers and residents.

Others fear the deer will bring disease-carrying ticks into the city, making it a public health issue as well.

"As far as the DNR is concerned, this is not about flowers in people's yards. This is about protecting natural resources -- especially the critical dunes, forest areas and green space," Schaefer said.

Last fall, sharpshooters killed 19 deer on Harbor Island and in Lake Forest Cemetery during separate hunts. The city's public safety department closed both public areas during the hunts.

Still, opponents say the hunts aren't safe because of nearby residential neighborhoods. In an attempt to save the deer during last year's hunt at the cemetery, several residents showed up banging pots and pans and honking car horns.

Source: MLive

VIRGINIA NEWS: Municipal Bow Hunt Debated

Tired of the damage and disease associated with an exploding white-tailed deer population, a Leesburg neighborhood will begin allowing bow hunting of deer when hunting season begins this month.

Homeowners in Beacon Hill, a sprawling neighborhood of more than 200 houses, have long complained of deer trampling manicured lawns, eating flowers and ruining community landscaping. They also have expressed concern about the spread of deer ticks that carry Lyme disease.

The board of directors of the Beacon Hill homeowners association voted Monday to permit bow hunting of deer in four wooded common areas during the legal hunting season, from Sept. 5 to Nov. 13.

But a neighboring equestrian center, which shares a trail and common space with Beacon Hill, has expressed concerns about safety. The owners and clients of Clairvaux at Beacon Hill said they fear that horses could be mistaken for deer.

"I envision little girls on little ponies getting shot at," said Terri Young, the owner of Clairvaux. "Or what happens if a hunter misses and there is a deer running around with [an arrow] stuck in it to horrify the kids?"

Beacon Hill is one of a number of Washington area communities that permit bow hunting to control the growing deer population. Montgomery County, for instance, last year relaxed its rules on bow and shotgun hunting.

Beacon Hill is negotiating with Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia, professional bow hunters who have worked for other communities and private landowners, said Pia Trigiani, the association's attorney. The company's hunters would shoot deer from elevated tree stands, she said.

The tree stands would be at least 150 feet away from any private property not participating in the program and 30 yards from the shared equestrian trail. Hunting would be limited to the four areas, where deer tend to gather, Trigiani said.

In looking at the four areas, the board has considered safety, the proximity to other lots and "where the thinning would be most productive," she said.

Trigiani noted that the association held a community-wide meeting in March at which professional bow hunters briefed residents. Since then, she said, the board has listened to supporters and opponents of bow hunting and has carefully considered the issue.

"This is a last resort for the association," Trigiani said. "It's a measured response. It's not a knee-jerk reaction."

The vast majority of Beacon Hill homeowners support bow hunting of deer. But residents who oppose it said the community could be sued if a hunter accidentally hits a person or a horse.

"We're just concerned about the liability . . . and the safety of the kids, the horses and anybody else," said Lisa Thompson, a Beacon Hill homeowner and mother of two teenage girls who ride horses that are boarded at the equestrian center.

Young, the owner of the equestrian center, said she is concerned about the effect bow hunting will have on her business. "I don't know what our options are at that point," she said. "I have already spoken to our attorney about it."

Trigiani said the board weighed the risks associated with bow hunting on residential land and spoke with three Fairfax County homeowners associations that permit bow hunting.

"They have to balance all of the sides of the issue and come up with the best decisions," Trigiani said. "I think this board has done that, and I think it will stand judicial scrutiny."

Beacon Hill homeowner Stephen Cloud, who supports bow hunting of deer, said that he has tried spraying his flowers and plants with deer-repellant chemicals but that the effectiveness doesn't last.

"I don't plant many flowers anymore because [the deer] eat them all," he said.

Source: Washington Post

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

RESEARCH NEWS: Four-Posters Reduce Numbers of Lyme-Carrying Ticks 71%

A device called the "4-poster" Deer Treatment Bait Station, developed and patented by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), was highly effective at reducing the number of ticks infected with the Lyme disease bacterium in a six-year U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study in five Northeastern states—Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island—where the disease is endemic.

In the $2.1 million USDA Northeast Areawide Tick Control Project, investigators noted a 71 percent overall reduction in the number of ticks infected with the Lyme disease bacterium during summer months when most people get the disease. If the 4-poster is used in areas where the disease is endemic, this should translate to a corresponding 71 percent decrease in Lyme disease cases, according to Durland Fish, a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health and principal investigator for the project. The effectiveness of the 4-poster ranged from 60 to 82 percent among the seven individual 2-square-mile study sites.

The device is a bin that contains corn, with insecticide-laden paint rollers mounted at the bin's corners. When a deer-the primary carrier of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, which carries the Lyme disease bacterium—inserts its muzzle into the bin to feed, it must rub its head, neck and ears against the insecticide-treated rollers. When the deer subsequently grooms itself, the insecticide is spread enough to protect the animal's entire body.

Developed by ARS scientists at the agency's Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory in Kerrville, Texas, the 4-poster's efficacy could be boosted to more than 90 percent by using newer, more effective insecticides that were not available at the start of the USDA study, according to J. Mathews Pound, an entomologist at the Kerrville laboratory and a co-investigator on the study.

The results of the study have been published in a series of 11 papers in the August 2009 issue of the medical journal Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases. The articles are available free online.

Source: USDA-ARS

MICHIGAN NEWS: Deer Populations Grow, Native Plants Disappear Garlic Mustard Invades Dune Ecosystem

A burgeoning deer population is threatening the delicate ecosystem of a protected, 115-acre dunes area in southwestern Michigan.

The city of Ferrysburg has formed an ad-hoc committee to look into the problem. Councilman Tim Scarpino, a committee member, said he wants all options -- including culling the herd -- left on the table.

"The less that is done now, the more that will have to be done later," he said.

There appear to be more deer than ever roaming the Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes Preserve, which is in the neighboring city of Grand Haven but owned by Ferrysburg. The animals are feasting on several rare, native plants and their paths are eroding the landscape of the dunes, Scarpino said.

Deer have been slowly stripping the plants that grow in the dunes' understory, the area of ground beneath its forest canopy, said William Martinus, an environmental consultant who has compiled natural-features inventories for the preserve.

Many plants found there in great numbers during the 1970s were not seen during a recent search, Martinus said. There is little to no regeneration of tree seedlings or saplings, while remaining plants often show few blooms.

"There's almost nothing native in the understory," he told the Grand Haven Tribune for a story published Monday. "We don't even know if the seeds of the plants are there anymore."

The deer eat tree saplings and seedlings that are native to Michigan, including maple, oak, beech, cherry, basswood, cedar and butternut, he said.

The native plants are being replaced by nonnative and often invasive species that the deer won't eat. Species that are moving in include garlic mustard, a plant that stifles tree growth, Martinus said.

Reducing the herd is one way to help native plants return to the preserve, he said.

There are several ways to do shrink deer herds but the most effective can be some combination of methods that include fencing, scent repellents, scare tactics and a controlled hunt, said Nik Kalejs, a wildlife habitat biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Source: Chicago Tribune

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Newark Considers Urban Deer Cull

Newark soon might follow in Granville and Heath's footsteps and establish a program to eliminate deer within the city.

Monday, Newark City Council's Service Committee listened to a presentation by Granville Clerk of Council Mollie Prasher to stimulate ideas.

"It has become an issue not just of inconvenience but of appropriate stewardship. My personal opinion is we are being good stewards of the earth by addressing this issue," Prasher said referring to the overpopulation of deer because of a lack of a natural predator and the resulting possibility of disease.

The council has heard complaints from Newark residents for several years about the number of deer and the resulting damage to property and car crashes. Many council members have wanted to approve bowhunting within the city but have been met with resistance from residents who don't want hunting near their home. The discussion never has moved into a solid proposal, however.

No specifics were discussed Monday, but Newark residents have been encouraged to add their name to a list if they are willing to allow hunting on their property.

Granville will enter its third season permitting bowhunting within the city this year. Last year, 95 deer were recorded as killed as a result of the program, 20 of which were shot on a single property.

One of the keys, Prasher said, is the hunters and property owners always have contact with one another before the hunter enters a property. Many owners ask for specific hunters.

"You have to know who is coming on to your property with a weapon," Prasher said.

Before hunters are approved, they must pass a background check and pass a proficiency test.

Prasher said she has developed zones, made up of groups of property owners, and each hunter is assigned to a zone for 13 days at a time. Hunters are provided with a parking permit, an aerial map of the area, a plat map and a card to identify themselves.

"I have had no residents call in to complain," Prasher said. "I don't think everyone (in Granville) is happy we are hunting, but they are tolerating it."

Granville also pays for the meat to be processed and donates any the hunter does not wish to keep.

Several Newark residents also supported action because of the property damage they had experienced or because of the effects on the deer of overpopulation.

One resident said he has seen as many as 23 deer in his yard at one time.

Source: Newark Advocate

VIRGINIA NEWS: Seasonal Deer Feeding Ban Begins

Starting today, it is illegal to feed deer in Virginia, according to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The annual prohibition, part of a 2006 regulation, is part of an effort to keep Virginia's deer population in check. The no-feeding rule will remain in place through the first Saturday in January, according to the department.

The regulation does not restrict the planting of crops, wildlife food plots or backyard and schoolyard habitats. Rather, it is aimed at the artificial feeding of deer, which can unnaturally increase the deer population.

Deer will take advantage of birdfeeders and will eat spilled seed. Individuals who inadvertently feed deer through their birdfeeders may be asked to temporarily take their feeders down, according to a department release.

An overabundance of deer can lead to damage to natural habitats and inappropriate "taming" of wildlife. It also can lead to increased human-deer conflicts, including vehicle collisions and disease transmission, such as tuberculosis and other deer ailments.

Many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but deer die-offs due to starvation are practically nonexistent in Virginia, said Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon, VDGIF Deer Project coordinators, in a statement.

"We do not need more deer in Virginia," Lafon said. "In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state."

Harrisonburg has used police snipers to thin the city's deer herd. Recently, city officials said they are considering allowing archery on a limited basis to control the deer population.

Based on a 2007 survey, most Virginians would like to see deer populations decrease through much of the state, the release said.

Source: Rocktown Weekly

Monday, August 31, 2009

MICHIGAN NEWS: Bill Introduced to Expand Damage Shooting Permits

One of Michigan’s top industries is taking a hit from a growing problem, and state Rep. John Proos is working to address the issue.

Proos has introduced House Bill 5309 to allow farmers to address the increasing deer population and take more nuisance deer that disrupt and destroy crops.

“Michigan farmers are facing unprecedented struggles in this rough economy, and this simple preventative measure will go a long way in protecting crops,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This is both a local issue and a statewide economic issue, and here is a simple fix for a growing problem.”

Proos said that current law still leaves crops largely unprotected. Under current law, farmers are able to obtain a deer damage shooting permit as a result of nursery or crop loss, which allows them to take nuisance deer responsible for damaging crops.

Proos’ legislation increases the number of authorized shooters that may be included under a deer damage shooting permit from three to 15.

Source: WLKM

WASHINGTON DC NEWS: Hunt in Rock Creek National Park Considered

The National Park Service is eyeing the use of sharpshooters and other lethal action as the most effective means to quickly cull the growing white-tail deer population in Rock Creek Park.

Hundreds of deer -- roughly 82 per square mile -- roam the 2,900-acre park, the park service reports in a 400-page environmental impact statement, which sets out the lethal and nonlethal options for controlling deer numbers. The herd often wanders off the reservation, onto neighboring roads, into residents' yards and occasionally through plate glass windows.

The park service is lobbying for immediate action as white-tail deer are fast becoming the dominant force in the park's ecosystem. The deer are destroying native vegetation, competing with other wildlife for limited food resources, and increasingly are posing a hazard to drivers.

The EIS, the subject of a scheduled public meeting Wednesday, offers four alternatives for reducing the deer population:

» A do-nothing option
» Surgical and chemical sterilization and "large fenced areas"
» Sharpshooters and euthanization
» A combination of the latter two choices

Killing deer via sharpshooting and euthanasia would allow the forest to regenerate, "improving habitat and reducing impacts of overbrowsing," according to the park service document. The hunts, performed primarily at night during late fall and winter months, would entail "trained sharpshooters" using rifles or bow and arrow.
The meat, the NPS said, would be donated to local charitable organizations for consumption "to the maximum extent possible."

Opinions vary on controlled hunts as a viable practice inside the District.
Though killing deer is a "heart wrenching decision," an overpopulation of any single species "wreaks havoc in so many ways," said Jane Solomon, a conservation biologist who lives just west of Rock Creek Park.

"It's unpopular," said Solomon, a Forest Hills advisory neighborhood commissioner. "They're beautiful animals. We all love them, but the population's too large. I wouldn't be opposed to either some form of euthanization or lethal means."
Deer are a "nuisance and vexatious," said D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson. But sterilization, he said, is the best practice.

"It's not hard to find them to do the sterilization," Mendelson said. "It's certainly a more humane approach and far less controversial than sharpshooting."

The park service "is looking to hunt" rather than investigating options like reflectors, flashing lights, controlled vegetation and devices that scare deer away from roads and residences, said Scott Giacoppo, chief programs officer with the Washington Humane Society. Deer kills, he said, are "proven not to work."

"I personally wouldn't get involved in something like that," said Charles Rogers, president of the Woodbridge-based National Sportsman Association. "It's sort of like shooting fish in a barrel."

Source: Washington Examiner