Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TEXAS NEWS: Town Confronts Very Very Large Deer Population

Ten years ago, the City of Fair Oaks Ranch took a survey and counted 2,800 white-tailed deer within city limits.

Back then the city took some steps to control the population.

In a recent survey, more than 5,700 white-tailed and axis deer were counted within the city limits.

This is why for the past nine months, the city has been studying a variety of options to control the population - everything from bringing in sharpshooters to trap and relocate programs.

The city occupies 7.2 square miles of land. That puts the deer density at nearly 800 deer per square mile, or 1.25 deer per acre. Wow...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

IOWA NEWS: Deer Harvest 2010

The Iowa DNR is reporting 108,000 deer harvested so far in the 2010 season. This is prompting fewer complaints from farmers, and more complaints from hunters.
"It’s hard for hunters who are seeing about 30 percent fewer deer from the population peak," said Tom Litchfield, DNR deer biologist. "We are reaching population goals throughout eastern Iowa. Even in the far southeast corner, the deer herd is at middle to late 1990s levels."

Source: KCCI

Sunday, November 14, 2010

OHIO NEWS: Deer Reduction Planned for Dayton Metropark

A deer cull is planned for Hills and Dales, a small urban park in a Dayton suburb.
Sharpshooters from Five Rivers MetroParks will thin the deer herd in Hills and Dales Park for the first time this year, with the nighttime shoots beginning as early as this weekend and continuing into the winter.

Michael Enright, MetroParks’ conservation biologist, said the latest aerial infrared survey showed 22 deer in and around the small park on the Kettering-Oakwood border. That population has changed little since 2003, but Enright said it is almost three times higher than the 20 deer per square mile recommendation, and over time, the forest has begun to show damage.

This is the first cull to take place at Hills and Dales. A few years back, Oakwood residents opposed any culling in the municipality. However, the city does not have jurisdiction over the Metropark. The park is in a very affluent area, so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

Source: Dayton Daily News

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

BRITISH COLUMBIA NEWS: Sidney Island Deer Cull to Expand

There are currently 1100-1200 fallow deer on this 1000 ha island, or 11-12 times as many as the island can support over the long term.

[The] Sallas [Forest Strata Corporation], a group of private landowners with property on the opposite side of the island from the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, completed their second fallow deer cull last month, using a mobile meat processor and specially designed dark rooms to keep the deer calm.

Now Parks Canada, which has already provided staff and in-kind support for the cull, is hoping to expand the corral and cull system to the park area.

The population of Mediterranean fallow deer was introduced in the 1920s and, despite 30 years of trying to check the population through First Nations hunting, commercial hunting and shipments to deer farms, the animals have continued to ravage underbrush and eat newly planted trees.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Judge Clears Valley Forge Deer Cull Plans

Valley Forge National Historical Park can proceed with its controversial plan to use sharpshooters to radically reduce its deer population, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Calling the imminent plan a looming "bloodbath," animal-rights advocates, who were awaiting the outcome of a suit filed last year, had requested an injunction late Tuesday night to stop it.

But U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg ruled against that suit Wednesday, thus making moot the injunction requested by Friends of Animals and a Chester County group, Compassion for Animals - Respect for the Environment.

The deer management plan calls for reducing the population from 1200 to 200 deer over several years. Deer densities at Valley Forge currently exceed 250 per square mile.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

VIRGINIA NEWS: Fairfax County Opinion Poll on Deer Culling

Fairfax County is trying to gauge its residents opinions on deer and a proposed deer management plan. The data come from 6,376 respondents. Some highlights:

66.5 percent of respondents would prefer the deer population decrease.

45.9 percent of respondents are very concerned they will be in a deer-vehicle collision within 12 months.

50.4 percent are very concerned they will contract Lyme disease within 12 months. (62.7 percent believe deer are directly related to the risk of transmitting the disease)

62.7 percent support public managed deer hunts

66.4 percent support the Archery Program to help manage the deer population

64.2 percent are not at all familiar with the current Fairfax County deer management program.

59.5 percent oppose no deer population control efforts; 12.2 percent of respondents support no deer population control efforts.

Source: Fairfax County

UK NEWS: Latest Deer Collision Figures

Around 74,000 deer are hit on Britain's roads every year, according to figures from breakdown service Autonational Rescue.

Such accidents can cause up to 700 human casualties, including several fatalities, and annually cost more than 21 million pounds in damage, according to the data.

"There are probably around 200 accidents a day involving deer," said Autonational marketing manager Ronan Hart.

"It's a much bigger problem than people realise and not something that happens once in a blue moon to motorists," added a spokesman for deer protection organisation, The Deer Initiative.

Source: AFP

Friday, October 22, 2010

ILLINOIS NEWS: Quelling Concerns About Culling Safety

When culls are planned in or near residential areas, residents often raise concerns about safety. This is completely understandable--no one wants bullets flying past their heads while they get their mail, wash their car, or walk the dog. But controlled hunts can be surprisingly safe. Here are some of the safety checks in place for the Will County Forest Preserve culling efforts.
Kiran said the district’s police officers are in training now for the project. To qualify to be Illinois Department of Natural Resources sharpshooters, each must shoot five bullets into a 1.9-inch target from 50 yards.

In the forest preserves, the officers will not fire at targets more than 50 yards away, and they will always shoot downward from stands or by using the terrain. They will also only shoot into the parks at a distance of at least 300 feet from the parks’ boundaries.

Culling would be done at night, when the parks are closed to visitors. Moreover, ballistic ammunition is used to prevent richochets. These bullets disintegrate as soon as they hit any object.

Village President Joe Cook is not convinced (or at least his constituents are not convinced).
Cook says he believes the district should consider shotguns or even bows and use hunters, who know the considerations for safely bringing game down.

“Hunter management works well and safely,” he said, “and you only reach 70 — 80 yards with a bow — a far cry from two to three miles with a high-powered rifle.”

Source: Herald News

Sunday, October 10, 2010

OHIO NEWS: Deer Tick Populations Expand, Hunters and Hikers At-Risk

Hunters and hikers should be wary of a potentially disease-carrying parasite that has established a foothold in Ohio, the state Department of Natural Resources warns.

A reproducing population of black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, has been found in Coshocton County, said Glen Needham, an entomologist with Ohio State University.

The tick, which can carry Lyme disease, is fairly common in surrounding states, and hikers have come across single ticks in Ohio for years. But scientists didn't discover a population large enough to reproduce and sustain itself until this past spring, he said.

Some deer ticks carry Lyme Disease, the most common arthropod-transmitted disease in the U.S. Last year, there were 30,000 cases of Lyme confirmed by the CDC. It is an emerging disease, one that most Ohio residents have little or no experience with. Deer play an important role in moving ticks long distances.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

Thursday, October 07, 2010

RESEARCH NEWS: A CWD Vaccine On the Horizon?

Chronic wasting disease has cast a pall over the Wisconsin deer herd and the state's deer hunting tradition since it was discovered in 2001.

One could argue the only good CWD-related news in the last decade is the nightmare scenario has not played out - the disease has not jumped the species barrier to affect humans or livestock.

Wisconsin wildlife managers have taken aggressive measures to initially try to eradicate the disease and more recently to reduce its spread. The disease is now found in a 9,000-square-mile area of south-central Wisconsin.

The primary tools have been deer reduction efforts (hunting or sharpshooting) and transport prohibitions on deer and elk.

Canadian researchers are testing a CWD vaccine they hope will add another tool to the tool box.

A Canadian team has made some promising advances, and a vaccine might be commercially available in 2 years, assuming they can raise the funding needed for development. The logistics of administering the vaccine to wild deer might prove insurmountable. However, it holds a lot of promise for captive and farmed deer.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Valley Forge Moves Forward with Deer Cull Plans

Officials at Valley Forge National Historical Park say deer will be shot there starting next month, ending a yearlong delay and commencing a controversial plan to dramatically thin the herd.

An animal rights group is contemplating protests and legal action.

The 5.3 square mile Park's deer reduction goal is quite large; the four year plan calls for reducing deer numbers from 1277 to 165-185.

Park Superintendent Michael Caldwell said Monday that the deer-driven degradation at the park made it imperative to proceed.

"We believe the best course is to go forward at this point," he said. "We'll await the legal process as it unfolds."

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

USA NEWS: State Farm Annual Deer-Vehicle Collisions Report

While the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just 2 percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by ten times that amount.

Using its claims data, State Farm, the nation’s leading auto insurer estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That’s 21.1 percent more than five years earlier. To put it another way, during your reading of this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place (they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).

Likelihood of Deer-Vehicle Collisions

For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer. Using its claims data in conjunction with state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia driver striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 42.

Iowa is second on the list. The likelihood of a licensed driver in Iowa striking a deer within the next year is 1 in 67. Michigan (1 in 70) is third. Fourth and fifth on the list are South Dakota (1 in 76) and Montana (1 in 82).

Pennsylvania is sixth, followed by North Dakota and Wisconsin. Arkansas and Minnesota round out the top 10.

The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,103, up 1.7 percent from a year ago.

Source: State Farm

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Task Force Recommends Cull

Hopewell Township's Deer Task Force recommends a hunt to control its deer population.

The task force, created in 2009, summarized its report at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting. Former township Mayor Bill Cane, co-chairman of the task force with Denise Moser, said the report reflected the opinion of most of the task force members.

The report said increased hunting and other measures are needed to reduce Lyme disease, which is spread by deer ticks, motor vehicle accidents involving deer and damage to crops and landscaping.

The report pointed to impacts on the community.

The report says there has been an annual average of 170 reportable cases of Lyme disease in the township from 2007 to 2009 and an annual average of 567 deer-vehicle collisions during that same three-year period. Some township farmers have reported crop losses due to deer at more than $5,000 annually, the report said.

One person spoke about natural areas.

Tom Niederer, a township resident and past president of the New Jersey Forestry Association, said, “White-tailed deer are the greatest threats to our forest. Part of the stewardship of the forest is wildlife management, including deer control. Our forests will decline precipitously unless something is about the deer.”

The recommendation has been made, but a decision is still forthcoming.

Source: Hopewell Valley News

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MICHIGAN NEWS: Bluetongue Detected in Lower Peninsula

There appears to be another isolated case of EHD in the western part of Michigan's lower peninsula.

An often fatal viral disease, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, has been found in white-tailed deer in Berrien, Cass and Ottawa counties in the past two weeks, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The disease, relatively rare this far north, is characterized by extensive hemorrhages and is transmitted by a biting fly called a midge. White-tailed deer usually show signs of being sick about seven days after exposure, with their symptoms developing fast.

The disease is common in the southern U.S. where deer population appear to have evolved some immunity. It is still rare in the northern U.S. and is often fatal.

Cooley said owners who discover dead deer suspected of having EHD should call their nearest DNRE office to report it. DNRE officials can collect more fresh specimens to test the disease to determine its spread. Carcasses also can be buried at a sufficient depth so that body parts are not showing, or they can be disposed of at landfills that accept household solid waste.

The first documented case of EHD in white-tailed deer in Michigan was in 1955.

Additional cases occurred in 1974 and 2006, 2008 and 2009 in various counties in the state.

I suspect EHD outbreaks in the northern U.S. will become more common in the coming decades with climate change, but I do not have any good data to back this speculation up.

Source: South Bend Tribune

Friday, September 24, 2010

TEXAS NEWS: Feeding Ban Lifted at Hollywood Park

In response to drought, a feeding ban has been lifted at Hollywood Park.

Hollywood Park has overturned an 8-year-old ban on feeding deer within the suburb, dismaying state wildlife officials and reigniting a long-running battle on how residents can best manage the city’s deer population.

Proponents said the move to rescind the ban was justified, saying the deer population is thinning because of the recent drought.

The feeding ban has been successful in reducing deer numbers. Reversing the feeding ban will make it more difficult for the park to manage deer populations in the long term. The city is still conducting deer relocations and looking for ranchers to take deer.

Kevin Schwausch, a big-game specialist for the state, agreed that the number of deer in Hollywood Park had decreased but said it was a result of the city’s efforts in managing its deer population.

“Just because your management is starting to work, it doesn’t mean you should stop,” Schwausch said.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OREGON NEWS: Ashland Residents Want Action on Deer Problem

Residents on Monday called on Mayor John Stromberg to curb the city's growing deer population by allowing bow hunting and sterilization.

At a community meeting in City Council chambers after a series of aggressive deer encounters were reported over the summer, Stromberg said there is no easy solution to the deer problem. He said city officials will continue to study the issue in consultation with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.

The problem, according to residents, is the deer are becoming habituated to people and are attacking both residents and pets. This has not lead to any serious injuries yet.

Ashland has seen an increase in deer in recent years, Vargas said. The deer have become less afraid of humans, leading some to become aggressive during breeding and fawning seasons, roughly between May and August, he said.

This summer several residents reported being attacked by deer, especially while walking their dogs, which deer can mistake for predators. Aggressive deer have been known to rear up on their hind legs and try to stomp on people and their dogs. There were no reports of serious injuries from deer attacks in the city this summer.

The issue is polarizing, and even if action is taken, there are no easy lasting solution to this emerging problem.

Source: Ashland Daily Tidings

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SCOTLAND NEWS: Deer Exclusion and Forest Restoration

Turning a woodland into a deer-free zone has allowed part of Scotland's ancient Caledonian Forest to flourish, according to charity Trees for Life.

With no grazing deer, hundreds of thousands of Scots pine seeds have been able to grow on 123 acres (50 hectares) in Glen Affric, Inverness-shire.

Forres-based Trees for Life has been running the project jointly with Forestry Commission Scotland.

The woodland at Coille Ruigh na Cuileige was fenced off 20 years ago.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life executive director, said the project had involved no tree planting and the woodland left to seed and grow.

He said: "Regular surveys have given us invaluable knowledge and data about regeneration in the native pinewoods of the Caledonian Forest."

Giles Drake-Brockman, environment manager for the commission in Inverness, Ross and Skye, said the scheme had made an important contribution to the reshaping of Glen Affric.

He added: "It tells a powerful story, showing how simple actions such as a fence to exclude deer can make the difference between open moorland and a naturally wooded landscape."

As well as Scots pine, the area has rowans, birches, heather, blaeberry, eared willow and juniper.

Bird life include crested tits and black grouse.

Source: BBC

Monday, September 13, 2010

MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: Blue Hills Reservation

The deer population in places like the Blue Hills Reservation has exploded in recent years, and the hazards – traffic risks, threats to local biodiversity and human health – require immediate action from local communities, U.S. Forest Service botanist Tom Rawinski writes in “Deer and Forests, and the People Who Love Them.”

Rawinski, based in Durham, N.H., suggests in the article that New England’s deer population is growing dangerously large and may need to be controlled by a combination of methods such as hunting, fencing off properties and planting deer-resistant species to restore forests damaged by deer foraging.

Rawinski writes that deer have devastated some native plant species while creating an environment that allows invasive plants to thrive. The article calls for more studies in Milton and “just about every eastern Massachusetts town” to measure the animals’ environmental impact.

Rawinski said in a phone interview that it is too early to start speculating about hunting in the Blue Hills or elsewhere. He said his article is a starting point for further research on the reservation’s population and serious dialogue about the best ways to address the problem, if there is one.

“We all need to do our homework on the issue and learn as much as we can about deer and what’s been done in other communities,” he said.

Friends Executive Director Judy Lehrer Jacobs said she posted the article on the group’s blog to spark debate and begin a discussion about the deer population’s impact on the reservation.

The idea of population control doesn’t really “have meat behind it at this point,” Jacobs said, and the group’s board has not voted on any course of action.

The Friends’ next step would be to meet with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and go over the options for controlling the deer population and protecting endangered plant species in the Blue Hills.

Full article at: The Patriot Ledger

Friday, September 10, 2010

NEW JERSEY NEWS: Deer Cull in Essex Fells

In part of a wider effort to control the deer population that has grown in the area, the borough will begin bow hunting to cull the deer herd.

Councilman Jack Taylor said at Tuesday night’s Borough Council meeting that signs will be posted in all affected areas of the borough.

The deer culling will happen between Trotter Track and the woods on Fells Road to the right of Fells Brook. The operation will be run through the police department and handled by expert hunters, the council said. There was no date given on when the hunt will begin.

The hunters will not be going on private property, the mayor said, and will maintain a 450-foot distance from residential homes.

“In total, there will be about seven areas that will be involved in the process,” Mayor Edward Abbot said.

The borough also intends to mail out letters to residents that will detail the program.

The matter was first broached in the spring of 2010, during a presentation at a council meeting.

“The council has always had a safety concern with the increasing deer population in our town, and with neighboring towns as well,” the mayor said. “We have discussed what to do with the increasing deer population over many council meetings.”

The growth of the population, he explained, “not only presents a health concern like Lyme disease, but also effects the health and safety of our drivers. We have witnessed several accidents that caused all parties involved to be seriously injured.”

“The hunt will be very controlled,” the mayor added. “We will only have seven bow hunters doing the culling. Safety is our top priority with this project.”

For the full article, see The Progress

ILLINOIS NEWS: Deer Culls Approved for Will County Forest Preserves

Trained marksmen will begin targeting white-tailed deer this fall in Will County forest preserves.

Despite opposition from some county residents, the marksmen will kill a certain number of deer at five preserves during fall and winter this year and next.

Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve, Lockport Township. The average number of deer in the area is 94. They plan to cull 17 to 22 deer.

Messenger Woods Nature Preserve and Messenger Marsh Preserve, Homer Township. The average number of deer in the area is 138. They plan to cull 61 to 83.

Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve and Plum Valley Preserve, Crete Township. The average number of deer in the area is 421. They plan to cull 109 to 137 deer.

Sand Ridge Savanna Preserve in Custer Township and the Kankakee Sands Preserve. The average number of deer in the area is 87. They plan to cull 32 to 50 deer.

McKinley Woods, Channahon Township. The average number of deer in the area is 131. They plan to cull about 110 deer.

Source: The Southtown Star

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CONNECTICUT NEWS: Economic Cost of Deer in Fairfield County

To be fair, the authors of the study could have looked at the economic benefits of deer as well. Regardless, the figures are pretty startling. -TR

Greenwich is paying a hefty bill for Bambi and his friends as they wreak havoc throughout the town and its neighboring towns, said a report that studied the adverse economic impact of deer on Fairfield County.

According to the "Economic Impact of Deer Overpopulation in Fairfield County, CT" report, the total dollar figure for damage caused by deer for Greenwich is $15.1 million in 2008, just behind Fairfield that tops the list at nearly $17 million.

The single biggest category of damage is environment and landscaping where Greenwich sustained $12.6 million in damage. That was followed by tick control at $2.1 million, tick-borne Lyme disease at $319,000 and motor vehicle damage at $131,000.

While Greenwich ranked near the top in total dollars, the cost per capita was $255, 16th lowest out of the 23 municipalities studied. Sherman was the highest at $524 with Easton just in behind it at $520 per person.

The study was prepared by two staff members at the New York Medical College and commissioned by the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, the Connecticut Coalition to End Lyme Disease, and the Connecticut Audubon Society. The latter three groups have advocated tougher deer-management policies.

Karen Dixon, director of Greenwich Audubon Center, said she couldn't comment on the economic impacts because the center did not participate in the study. But she said the center has a deer management plan that was implemented seven years ago to preserve habitat being eaten by deer.

"Deer really love to eat trees. Basically they stripped all the ground cover, stripped away all the shrubs," she said. Some bird species that nested at ground level were losing their habitat.

The number of deer killed by bow hunters from the Greenwich Sportsman and Land Owners Alliance has dropped from 30 taken during the first season of 2003-2004 to seven last year. The hunts occur on the center's four wildlife sanctuaries: Gimble, Fairchild, Caldwell and the main sanctuary all in northwest Greenwich.

The season begins in September and ends Jan. 30.

Dixon said it has been a success as plants eaten by deer were enjoying a resurgence, like the maple leaf viburnum, a plant that provides nesting and also a cover for birds and small mammals seeking to escape their predators.

Adopting the policy wasn't easy, said Dixon, as she acknowledged some people have been opposed to it.

"We have to make management decision that are sometimes hard to make and not ones we want to ideally make," she said. "There are people out there who don't agree with us. We certainly respect their opinion."

In 2005, the town began its own deer kill and hired professional hunters. They killed 80 deer that first season.

In a story in Greenwich Time last year prior to the 2009 hunting season, Conservation Director Denise Savageau said the program has worked but the deer levels were still too high, with deer reaching levels of 60 per square mile instead of the preferred 10 per square mile.

Savageau could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

If deer populations can be reduced to 10 to 12 per square mile, incidents of Lyme disease virtually disappear because deer tick colonies that carry the disease collapse, according to state researchers.

Other town's also support up to five times as many deer per square mile.

Patricia Sesto, director of environmental affairs for the town of Wilton, said Tuesday that even though the town has had a hunting system for eight years, there are still as many as 70 deer per square mile there.

She said the study means that next year officials can show town councils and selectmen throughout the region the costs residents pay out of pocket and the potential benefits of inviting sharpshooters, such as those who have worked in Greenwich, to increase the number of deer killed.

"We need to be harvesting 300 a year," said Sesto, questioning whether recreational deer hunting is capable of reducing deer populations to the point where the spread of Lyme disease can be halted.

The most productive year for hunters in Wilton resulted in 150 dead deer, but last year the harvest was about 45. Nearby towns, including Redding and Ridgefield, had much better results, she said.

She said that while deer contraception treatments are expensive, sharp-shooting programs, whether bow and arrow or rifle, are maturing and make more sense.

The public policy debate, however, will be persuading residents to pay new fees for helping eradicate local deer herds, by showing how much they can save in shrubbery, medical costs and auto repair bills.

"The transition between me writing a check for what I choose and a town surcharge, could require a large change in the social mindset and hopefully, this economic study can show that if you spend a fraction of the money, you can get major savings," Sesto said.

"Fairfield County municipalities still do not have a good grasp of either the prevalence of Lyme or its economic consequences to society, as evidenced by their failure to enact aggressive deer management policies," says researcher Deborah Viola of the NYMC, the co-author of the study.

Connecticut has the highest rate of Lyme disease in the nation.

Stephen R. Patton, director of landscape programs at the Nature Conservancy, said the study is the first of its kind to show the economic impact of deer overpopulation.

"This study demonstrates the broader need for a comprehensive effort, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, to bring deer numbers down to levels that is healthy for our woodlands and for people."

Source: Greenwich Time

Monday, August 23, 2010

MASSACHUSETTS NEWS: Lyme Disease Cases Tick Upwards

Lyme disease, the tick-borne ailment once primarily a scourge of the Cape and Islands, is now rampant in swaths of Massachusetts where locally acquired cases were rare a decade ago.

In Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester counties, the number of patients diagnosed with the bacterial disease surged more than fourfold between 2000 and 2009, according to figures the state Department of Public Health provided to the Globe.

The increase, which is fueling a statewide increase in reports of symptoms, is evident in the offices of infectious disease specialists and primary care doctors in places like Framingham and Natick, where Lyme disease diagnoses 10 or 15 years ago were largely restricted to people who had visited Cape Cod.

“Now,’’ said Dr. Richard Ellison, hospital epidemiologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, “they’re living in Charlton, they’re living in Northborough, they’re living in Westborough. And they’re not traveling to the Cape.’’

The disease is on the move, special ists said, because the deer population is expanding and human developments are encroaching on natural habitats. Hundreds of ticks can hitch a ride on a single deer. And a lone female tick can lay 2,000 — or more — eggs.

The result: Human and tick have increasing opportunity to come into contact, spreading an illness that often manifests with flulike symptoms but in some cases causes serious cardiac and neurologic complications.

It is an illustration, too, of the difficulty containing infectious diseases, especially those carried by tiny insects. The young ticks that tend to attach themselves to humans are roughly the size of a poppy seed and hard to detect. Their favorite hiding spots are behind knees, in armpits, and in the groin area.

“This has been an accident waiting to happen,’’ said Dr. Thomas Treadwell, director of the infectious disease clinic at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham. “If you don’t have the deer, you don’t have the tick. And if you don’t have the tick, you don’t have the disease. But we now have the perfect habitat here.’’

Doctors who treat patients and specialists who track ticks said they’re convinced the rise in cases — last year, there were 4,042 statewide, compared with 1,194 in 2000 — reflects a genuine increase in illness and not simply better diagnosis or recordkeeping. The increase is too large to be explained by better surveillance, specialists said: In Middlesex County, for example, there were 136 cases in 2000, and by 2008, diagnoses had soared to 767.

Source: Boston Globe

RHODE ISLAND NEWS: No Deer Hunt on Block Island

Reining in the deer herd on Block Island might be a bit more difficult for the Deer Task Force as it learned this week that the Land Trust will not open its lands to hunting.

At the task force meeting Tuesday evening, Chair Mary Sue Record said she had not yet received any written refusal, but she understood the conservation groups had met to set criteria for allowing a hunt on their properties, and the Land Trust determined none of its lands met that criteria. There were also concerns about liability.

With 43 percent of the island held by conservation groups, task force member Chris Blane said, “You’re at a standstill no matter what you do,” if conservation lands are not opened.

He suggested the task force “get a seat at the table” through joining conservation boards.

As to the liability factor, Blane suggested it could be the result of a current case in Newport, in which a fall from the cliff walk is going to trial despite the state’s law limiting liability of private owners who allow recreational use of their lands. The case is a test of this law, he said.

Record will request a formal response from the Land Trust.

Source: Block Island Times

CALIFORNIA NEWS: Black-tailed Deer in Decline Since 1989

The distinctive splayed antlers of black-tailed deer bucks have become an increasingly rare sight in California, particularly if you are accustomed to spotting the appendages through a rifle scope.

The California deer population has plummeted over the past two decades - by 46 percent - if the yearly count of bucks killed by hunters is a proper measure.

A team of scientists led by the California Department of Fish and Game is fanning out across the rugged mountains of Mendocino, Glenn and Lake counties in an attempt to figure out just what is going on.

"The deer population harvest has been steadily declining," said David Casady, an associate wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Game. "One of the things we're studying is whether the population has decreased or just the harvest. Most likely it's the population that has decreased and the harvest is just tracking that."

The Columbian black-tailed deer, or Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, is the smallest, darkest and most common of the three deer species that are prevalent in California, with bucks weighing up to 200 pounds and does topping out at 140 pounds. The other two most abundant deer species in the state are the California mule deer and the Rocky Mountain mule deer.

Black-tailed deer, combined with mule deer, inhabit about 75 percent of California's wildlands. They thrive on the edges of forests, where they can find the underbrush and grasslands they prefer and still find places to hide from predators.

Antlers, venison sought

The males grow multipronged antlers, which, along with the promise of venison, is a primary reason they are the state's most popular game mammal.

The number of bucks taken by hunters in California dropped from 27,846 in 1989 to 14,895 in 2009, according to Fish and Game statistics. That was out of 164,753 hunters who pursued deer in 2009.

The three-year study, which is being done in coordination with UC Davis, is documenting habitat changes, vegetation, predation, land use patterns and other factors that might affect black-tailed deer. It is focusing on the mountains east of Covelo (Mendocino County) because that area has historically had some of the best deer habitat in the state and has, for the most part, been unaffected by human encroachment.

57% drop in area

The area has nevertheless seen one of the biggest declines, from 3,013 deer harvested in 1989 to 1,297 in 2009, a 57 percent drop, according to state statistics. The state estimated that 38,037 people hunted deer in the area in 2009.

Heiko Wittmer, a UC Davis adjunct professor and senior lecturer in conservation and ecological restoration at New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington, said he and several doctoral students began capturing deer last year and equipping them with collars and tags with radio and global positioning satellite technology.

So far, he said, 40 fawns have had their ears tagged and 26 adults have had collars placed around their necks.

The equipment alerts trackers if four or more hours pass without any movement, an indication that the animal has died. The researchers then use an antenna to find the animal. The goal is to perform necropsies within 24 hours to determine the cause of death and use DNA analysis to determine what, if any, predator was involved.

"We are trying to estimate survival rates for fawns and for adults," Wittmer said. "Once we have that information, we can accurately measure death and birth rates and see if all of that together would result in a decreasing population."

Cougars, bobcats, black bears and coyotes are known to feed on deer. Remote cameras are being used to monitor coyotes and other predators, but only the mountain lion is known to have taken down a full-grown deer. That's why researchers have also collared a female mountain lion. They are planning to collar and track five additional mountain lions during the study, which is funded through June 2012, Wittmer said.

"One neat aspect of this study is that we are simultaneously looking at predators and prey," Wittmer said. "There is a lot of debate right now about whether the lion population is too high."

Hunting groups have claimed there are too many predators because of harvest restrictions and the elimination, albeit a long time ago, of bounties on mountain lions and coyotes.

Another theory, espoused by a fair number of biologists, is that the brush, grasses and foliage that deer feed upon are being choked out by nonnative weeds. The lack of food, the hypothesis goes, is being exacerbated by California's vigorous suppression of wildfires, which historically served to renew the state's grasslands and forests.

Forces of nature possible

The plummeting deer population could also be the result of a combination of factors, Casady admitted, including the tendency of hunters to fill with lead any buck with big antlers that they spot. Could it be that only the ugliest, nerdiest bucks are left and the does are simply turned off?

"It doesn't take many males to make sure all the females are bred," Casady said. "If the population was really that bad off, I think they would still breed with the ugly ones."

It may turn out in the end, Wittmer said, that the declining deer population is simply a reflection of what is normal in a balanced ecosystem.

"Maybe," he said, "if we want to have both healthy deer populations and healthy predator populations, then these densities are more natural."

The decline of black-tailed deer

-- Hunters killed 27,846 black-tailed deer in California in 1989 compared with 14,895 in 2009, a 46 percent decline.

-- Hunters killed 3,013 black-tailed deer in the study area in the forested mountains of Mendocino, Glenn and Lake counties in 1989 compared with 1,297 in 2009, a 57 percent decline.

-- Deer, which inhabit 75 percent of California's wildlands, are the most popular game animal in the state, attracting as many as 200,000 hunters a year.

-- Researchers have tagged 40 fawns and placed radio collars equipped with global positioning technology on 26 adult deer.

-- Cougars, bobcats, black bears and coyotes are known to prey on black-tailed deer and all four killed or scavenged fawns during the study, but the mountain lion is the only predator known to have taken down a full-grown deer.

-- A female mountain lion has been fitted with a satellite GPS collar and five others will be collared during the study, which is expected to continue through June 2012.

Source: SF Chronicle

Monday, August 16, 2010

ILLINOIS NEWS: Deer Dropping Dead in Chicago Suburbs

A deadly deer disease is causing problems in Chicago's south suburbs where residents are finding dead or dying deer in their backyards and in nearby forest preserves.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources say more than 30 deer have been discovered to be dying from an insect-born virus known as EHD, or epizootic hemorrhagic disease. The department began monitoring the situation near Crete late last month.

Some residents have found deer frothing at the mouth, approaching homes and humans, and dying near creeks. Those are all signs of EHD.

Crete resident David Green calls the situation "scary" and describes the smell as "horrendous."

The last major outbreak of EHD in Illinois in 2007 killed 1,900 deer in 57 counties.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Friday, July 30, 2010

NEW YORK NEWS: Village to Try Deer Contraception

Luckily the deer will not be asked to carry condoms or remember to take a pill at the same time every night, but if Hastings mayor Peter Swiderski's most recent plan to reduce the deer population goes forward, promiscuous does will soon be stymied in their efforts to take over the village.

Immunocontraception, a cutting-edge technology in the arena of animal control, was disclosed last night as the mayor's preferred approach to reducing the number of deer in Hastings.

Allen Rutberg, a professor at Tufts University, and leading researcher in the field of immunocontraception, said this method could potentially be effective on deer populations in suburban communities, but that it's still in the research phase.

"Introducing immunocontraception into a population of deer is complicated because it requires that the process be strongly supported by the community," Rutberg said, meaning that a long-term commitment to the program is necessary for success.

A 10-year employee of the Humane Society of America, Rutberg views immunocontraception as a middle-ground solution to a problem that generally offers no compromise.

"Whether to control a growing population of deer is generally a no-win issue," Rutberg said. "Some people feel strongly—and for different reasons—that deer should be killed and others believe strongly in protecting animal rights."

By hitting does with small vaccine darts, scientists are able to inject a naturally-occurring protein called Porcine (pig) Zonapellucida (PZP), which sterilizes the animals for what Rutberg believes to be about two years. This means animals would need to be re-vaccinated two years after the initial dose.

"The way it works is really cool," Rutberg said. "The PZP forms a protein envelope around female deer's eggs so that fertilization cannot occur. We use the pig Zonapellucida because other large mammals injected with pig protein develop antibodies that block fertilization sites on their own eggs as well."

Zonapellucida antibodies are nothing like any other protein in the deer's body, Rutberg said, so there is no risk of destroying other aspects of the animal's anatomy or temperament.

Another concern scientists have posed is whether if a human hunted and ate a deer—which is illegal though certainly not unheard of in Westchester—if she, too, could become infertile.

"There is absolutely no chance of that happening," Rutberg said. "The protein needs to be injected directly into the blood stream to work. Because it is extracted directly from a pig ovary it is probably no different from some of the ingredients in common dog food."

One shortcoming of Rutberg and his colleagues' studies thus far is that they have all been conducted in fairly contained areas, such as Fire Island and a federal campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

"Studies show that 90 percent of female deer don't wander very far throughout their lives," Rutberg said. "I imagine the efficacy rate would be similar for both contained and open populations."

But New York Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach is not convinced.

"This type of study is very hard to conduct in a wild population," Rosenbach said. "They can be hard to control and very expensive."

Swiderski disagrees with the expense of such action, saying each vaccine would cost no more than $30 and the village could probably apply for grants.

Though Rosenbach said the DEC would review an application for a permit to try immunocontraception, she thought it would be difficult to approve. "I don't believe we have issued a permit for this type of wildlife control," Rosenbach said. "If it were part of a study, that would be a different matter, and we would have to work closely with the scientist conducting the research."

But Rutberg is thrilled to be on the forefront of a non-lethal means of population control he truly believes will work.

"Though I no longer speak for the Humane Society, I can say with confidence a net-and-bolt cull is not something they condone," Rutberg said. "For us, immunocontraception was just a natural progression from our community outreach programs teaching the importance of spaying and neutering pets."

Now, the question is whether it will work.

Swiderski acknowledges the possibility that immunocontraception won't be the silver bullet--or dart--many hope it will, but said: "It's easier to turn back on a non-lethal approach that fails, shrug and say, 'We tried.'"

Source: Hastings-Dobbs Ferry Patch

IOWA NEWS: Urban Hunt Aims to Reduce Vehicle Collisions

City of Urbandale wants to cull the herd to reduce number of auto accidents and property damage.

The city of Urbandale will once again allow a bow hunt of antlerless deer in some parts of the city, in an effort to thin the city's teeming deer population.

The Urbandale City Council voted during its meeting Tuesday to allow bow-hunting from Sept. 11 to Jan. 30 as part of the Polk County Conservation Board's annual controlled bow hunt for antlerless deer.

Urbandale police officer Jeff Casey, whose department oversees the bow hunt for the city, said recent studies showed Urbandale has about 135 deer per square mile west of Interstate Highway 35/80, compared to a county average of 43 per square mile.

Deer were responsible for eight motor-vehicle collisions in 2005, 33 in 2006, 26 in 2007, 24 in 2008 and 24 in 2009, Casey said, adding that one of the goals of the task force is to thin the herd to about 30 per square mile to help prevent accidents.

"That's the recommended number to prevent more damage than we're already seeing," Casey said. "We're consistently seeing property damage in addition to the traffic situations caused by deer. Bow-hunting can have a considerable impact."

Source: DeMoinesRegister

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BRITISH COLUMBIA NEWS: City to Combat Urban Deer

Officials in Cranbrook, B.C., have met with government biologists in an attempt to find a solution to aggressive deer plaguing the city.

Urban deer have been devouring gardens, injuring pets and attacking people.

Last month, a YouTube video of a deer stomping on a dog in Cranbrook went viral, getting more than 1.4 million hits in just a few weeks.

On July 14, a newspaper carrier in Cranbrook made headlines after he was attacked by a deer while doing his rounds. The attack left Brock Jones with a gash on his chin and a black eye.

And last week, Mayor Scott Manjak came upon an angered doe chasing a woman and her dog down a residential street, "and I had to bring my truck between the lady and the deer so the deer would stop chasing her."

Encounters such as these these are happening far too often in Cranbrook, Manjak said, and something has to be done.

"They are getting more aggressive and escalation is getting higher because these are deer that have been in the community three and four years. They have no fear whatsoever," he said.

Solutions discussed

Manjak met with biologists from the provincial Ministry of Environment on Monday to discuss solutions.

The City of Cranbrook is hoping the provincial government will help address the problem of aggressive deer. (CBC)

The ministry has done an exhaustive study on urban deer to come up with potential solutions. However, the most effective solution — a large-scale cull — is also the most controversial.

Manjak said the city plans to ask local residents what they think should be done about the problem deer, something neighbouring Kimberly is already doing.

"This is a very controversial problem and by doing the survey and following it through, we'll come to a community-wide solution," said Kimberly Mayor Jim Ogalvie.

Source: CBC News

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MISSOURI NEWS: Urban Hunt Cancelled, Liability Concerns Cited

Managed deer hunts near Fellows Lake and Lake Springfield scheduled for later this year have been canceled while the Missouri Department of Conservation and City Utilities work through legal concerns.

"Basically what's happened is City Utilities ... had some concerns about some hunter liability issues," said Francis Skalicky, a spokesman for MDC's southwest region office. "We weren't able to reach a consensus before registration started, so it's delayed until next year."

The archery-only urban hunts, meant to curb overpopulation of deer in and around city limits, garnered broad support during City Council discussions in late 2009.

Conservation agents, who had urged an urban hunt since the 1990s, cited deer populations four to eight times the preferred density.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials chimed in with concerns about a rise in tick-borne diseases.

Homeowners in Ravenwood, Spring Creek and Ravenwood South wrote to City Hall to complain deer were creating a hazard on the roadways -- backed up by police crash statistics -- and a nuisance in their gardens.

Full story at: Springfield News-Leader

Monday, July 19, 2010

MICHIGAN NEWS: 2009 Deer Hunting Season Summary

Michigan hunters harvested almost 10 percent fewer white-tailed deer across the state last year, likely because of poor weather conditions and unusually late-standing corn crops that made hunting difficult during the regular rifle season, hunter data shows.

Across all Michigan deer hunting seasons, buck harvest slipped roughly 14 percent to 214,937 last year from 248,350 deer in 2008. Doe harvest also dropped to 229,111 from 241,573, or about 5 percent. A significantly higher percentage of those deer were taken in archery and late antlerless seasons in 2009 than in ’08, which increased roughly 10 and 30 percent, respectively.

Hunter success dipped by 4 percent statewide to an overall average of 47 percent in 2009.

“We had warm weather in a lot of the state, rainy weather in some areas and a lot of standing corn still up. Thirty percent (of corn) was harvested as opposed to 70 percent normally,” said Brent Rudolph, DNRE deer program leader.

The number of Michigan hunters dropped by about 1 percent to 686,392 this year from 693,817 in 2008, following a decade-long trend.

Source: MLive

Thursday, May 27, 2010

VIRGINIA NEWS: County Looks to Deploy 4-Posters to Fight Lyme

In an effort to slow the spread of Lyme disease, Loudoun County, which has the highest concentration of the disease in Virginia, may seek state permission to install devices that kill the bugs that spread the disease: ticks.

Called the 4-Poster Deer Treatment Bait Station because it resembles a four-poster bed, the device was created by researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the mid-1990s as a means of applying a tick-killing pesticide on the heads and necks of deer.

At a cost of about $425, the simple contraption is composed of a bin that holds corn kernels. When a deer sticks its head in the bin to feed, it rubs against two paintbrushes coated with a permethrin-based tickicide.

“It has proven to be effective,” said Loudoun Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge), who is working on a proposal to bring the stations to Loudoun.

In the late 1990s, researchers from Fordham University studied two towns in Upstate New York that were hotbeds for Lyme disease. Of the two, one had 24 of the devices installed, while they other had none. Results showed that after three years, deer in the community without the devices had seven times more ticks on them than deer known to have used the stations in the other community.

On its website, the American Lyme Disease Foundation cites two other studies in Texas and Maryland that showed the stations killed off more than 90 percent of the local tick populations.

Still, what remains unclear, according to Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend, is whether the devices help ward off human infections.

“I have not seen a study yet that shows how this reduces Lyme disease,” he said.

Goodfriend said the tried and true methods of avoiding the disease still remain keeping your property maintained and inspecting yourself regularly for ticks. “Controlling your personal environment,” he said, is key to avoiding being infected.

While how effective the stations are in thwarting the disease is still unknown, officials in Fairfax County have already begun the process to acquire one of the devices, which would make it the first jurisdiction in Virginia to employ one, according to Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist Victoria Monroe.

Currently, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does not permit the stations in Virginia over concerns about their use during hunting season and whether they would attract deer with chronic wasting disease into the Commonwealth.

Monroe said Fairfax is working with the department to create a permitting system that she hopes jurisdictions and homeowners associations alike could use to acquire the stations. She’s hoping Fairfax will gain permission by the end of summer to deploy its station. If so, she said it would likely be installed next February as part of a pilot program on one of two parks being considered. She said one station can maintain the tick population in an area covering at least 50 acres.

Like Goodfriend, she said she knew of no studies that measured the effective of the stations on combating the spread of Lyme disease, but said researchers at Cornell University are currently conducting a study.

Positive results or not, she said they do have their limitations since they only kill ticks found on deer. (Ticks acquire the bacteria that causes Lyme disease from white-footed mice while deer move ticks from place to place.)

If and when permitted in Virginia, she said the stations would likely be deployed as a complement to other disease-prevention techniques, like checking for ticks after being outside.

“By itself," Monroe said, “I don’t think it would work.”

Source: Loudoun Independent

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WEST VIRGINIA NEWS: City Council Seeks More Data on Deer Impacts

The Morgantown City Council is waiting for more discussion and data to be collected before authorizing a controlled bow hunt within city limits.

The council heard a report from the city’s Urban Deer Committee and concerns from members of the community regarding the proposed bow hunt meant to control the deer population. While the council is waiting before authorizing a hunt, it indicated it would act as quickly as its next regular meeting to pass an ordinance to ban the feeding of deer.

The committee, headed by Dave Samuels, a former wildlife management professor at West Virginia University, proposed several measures, including a controlled bow hunt, to curb the deer population.

"Our approach is to try and use as much science as possible," Samuels said. "But you are going to have anecdotal evidence."

Community members expressed concern over collecting data before a hunt is permitted.
Hunts are highly controlled, Samuels said, and would only take place in select locations.

"Never has there been an accident with an urban bow hunt in the United States involving a non-hunter," he said.

Studies from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and anecdotal evidence from residents indicate overpopulation of deer, Samuels said. Two to five deer per square mile is an acceptable number within city limits, he said, but he has seen photos showing up to 17 deer in one yard.

The ecology of parks in the Morgantown area, including the WVU Core Aboreatum, Samuels said, has been greatly disturbed by the large deer population. He said many types of wildflowers have been eradicated from the Arboreatum, and those present are there because they are not appetizing to deer.

Barton Baker, a professor with the WVU division of plant and soil sciences, told Samuels approximately $400,000 of grant money was lost because of deer overpopulation around the WVU organic farm.

Many within WVU’s Agricultural Sciences Department had asked for an urban deer hunt for almost a decade, Samuels said.

Randy Hudak, vice president of Facilities Management at WVU, represented the University on the committee and was able to gain administrative support, Samuels said.

Samuels’ other suggestions included: the council adopting regulations prohibiting the feeding of deer within city limits; a section of the city’s website be dedicated to receiving complaints regarding deer and endorsed the use of repellents to deter deer from feeding on plants around peoples’ homes; and deer "exclosures" be built in parks throughout the city, including the Arboreatum.

While the committee is not totally sold on a comprehensive deer "census," Samuels said it was not a bad idea. He also said for many people on either side of the debate the exact number of deer is unimportant.

Source: Daily Athenaeum

NEW YORK NEWS: Village Seeks Deer Management Consultant

I am not accepting new clients at this time. -TR

The Cayuga Heights village board's environmental assessment on its plan to reduce the deer herd is available on the village website.

The trustees formally adopted the assessment, which is required by state regulations, on March 27, Mayor Kate Supron said.

The village must now find a consultant to conduct further study on the two issues the board deemed as having a "significant effect on the environment," which are the reduction in deer population by approximately 150 deer, and the public controversy over that proposal, Supron said.

The trustees' environmental impact statement lays out the case they've made for sterilizing 20-60 does in the village, then culling or killing the rest of the deer herd. It includes supportive statements from Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick and Cornell Plantations botanist and natural areas manager Robert Wesley, among others.

In Wesley's statement, he asserts that diverse native plant species have "dwindled greatly or disappeared" as the deer population has grown.

"I believe that reducing the density of deer could only have a positive effect on any or all rare, threatened or endangered plant species in the area," he wrote.

Fitzpatrick wrote that "the white-tailed deer population boom has reached a stage I now describe as 'menacing' for biodiversity." Deer impact on understory plants reduces and eliminates habitat for a variety of bird species, he wrote.

The village's environmental assessment asserts that most villagers support the plan, citing recent village elections and an October public hearing. It also acknowledges strong opposition to the plan by some villagers and residents of surrounding municipalities, which has been organized primarily through the citizen's group

James LaVeck and Jenny Stein of criticized the trustees' assessment for choosing only two issues as worthy of further study.

"What does it say about the Cayuga Heights trustees that they are willing to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to a consultant to perform a study of 'public controversy,' and not a penny to obtain expert advice on the potential dangers of discharging deadly weapons hundreds of times near residences and roadways?" they wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

The village sent out a request for proposals to 10 consulting firms, but has not yet heard back from anybody, Supron said. Because of the uncertainty in finding a consultant, Supron said she couldn't provide an estimate on when the village might enact its deer plan.

"I was quite hopeful that it would be well under way by now," she said.

Source: Ithaca Journal

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

COLORADO NEWS: Rabid Deer Fed by Residents

In a recent notification from the Office of Emergency Management via the Code Red System, residents of Elbert County were alerted that a mule deer, which had been acting aggressively within the Town of Elizabeth had tested positive for rabies. Certainly not good news, but worse was to come when the animal was necropsied by the Colorado State University Lab it became clear that the deer had likely been fed by local residents as its stomach contained sliced apples, rolled corn and bird seed.

The notification went on to say that rabies has now been found in all areas of Elbert County and that residents should ensure their animals are vaccinated against the rabies virus. In addition, the Colorado Division of Wildlife regulations do not permit feeding wild animals and encourages residents to secure their feed for pets and livestock.

Elbert County is now considered to be an area endemic for the rabies virus in wild animals.

Source: The Examiner

Monday, May 03, 2010

INDIANA NEWS: DNR Plans to Reduce Deer Numbers

There will be some significant changes to Indiana's white-tailed deer hunting seasons, along with rules and regulations that govern the hunts.

The state's Department of Natural Resources is hedging on when those changes will be made, but they could come as early as this fall.

"It remains to be seen," DNR deer management biologist Chad Stewart said about a timeline. If not this year, it's almost certain that the changes will be made for the 2011 deer seasons.

The proposed changes include an antlerless quota system, bag limits, licensing, hunting equipment, special deer control permits, hunter access and restructuring hunting season dates.

Those are some major changes and Stewart has a quick answer for why they are needed.

"Bottom line? To reduce the deer population," he said.

That population continues to increase despite record numbers killed by hunters during five various deer seasons from September through January.

A month after hunters killed 132,752 deer during the last season, changes looked imminent when Stewart said, "It's kind of predictable any more. We're going to have a record or near-record harvest every year unless things change."

For several months, the DNR has met with what it calls "stakeholders" to plan a strategy for how to reduce the state's deer herd.

The size of that herd is anybody's guess, and that includes Stewart, who has a good handle on deer numbers despite admitting "we don't know in actual numbers."

What he does know is that as the annual deer harvest increases, so does the deer damage to state park ecosystems and private property, along with vehicle-deer collision reports.

So the state once again turns primarily to hunters for help.

The DNR got advice from members of organizations who understand the problem, including the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Indiana Sportsman's Roundtable, Indiana Bow Hunters Association, Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Indiana Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy, Quality Deer Management Association, Indiana Woodland Owner's Association and the DNR's fish and wildlife and law enforcement divisions.

The department also consulted sporting goods retailers and solicited advice from individual hunters through a survey that was posted on its free wild bulletin online site.

The survey left little doubt that there would be changes. It stated that the DNR's fish and wildlife division would use the information it gathered to gauge interest in season structure and equipment use "for upcoming changes" to the deer season.

So where is the fly in this ointment?

The hunters I talked with said they are not interested in killing more deer; their freezers are filled with deer meat. Nor are they interested in harvesting deer for deer donation programs.

Source: IndyStar

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WISCONSIN NEWS: New Hunt Structure Aims to Increase Deer

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved a fall deer hunt structure on Wednesday aimed at increasing the antlerless deer population.

Hunters will be allowed to kill only bucks in 18 management zones, instead of the previous 13 zones. The board also reduced the number of zones with antlerless-only herd control hunts from 50 last year to 46 this fall.

Hunters recently complained DNR strategies to control herds have actually depleted the population and endangered the sport of hunting.

DNR officials are optimistic that the new structure will increase the overall population. The board voted 6-1 to approve the measure at its meeting in Green Bay on Wednesday.

Source: WKOW

Monday, April 19, 2010

NEVADA NEWS: Mule Deer Declining, Predators Targeted, Biologists Ignored

Declining western deer herds have biologists, sportsman groups and environmentalists clashing over whether mountain lions and coyotes are largely to blame and should pay with their lives.

On one side are those who believe the number of deer predators should be reduced through targeted hunting programs. Others say factors such as the loss of natural habitat and wildfires are the issue.

It's an emotional debate, says Jim Heffelfinger, regional game specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"The scenario plays out in just about every state, Heffelfinger says. "When these things flare up, they're white hot."

That's the case now in Nevada, where the issue of killing lions and coyotes that prey on deer has state Department of Wildlife officials at odds with a governor-appointed commission that oversees them.

Nevada's mule deer numbered about 106,000 in 2009, down from a high of 240,000 in 1988, according to state estimates. Mule deer, characterized by their large, mule-like ears, are common throughout the western United States.

"We've got a war going on," says Cecil Fredi, president of Hunter's Alert, one of two hunters groups that petitioned the Nevada Wildlife Commission to approve three predator-control projects last December. It did so against the advice of department Director Ken Mayer and his biologists, who said killing mountain lions and coyotes was not scientifically justified.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, which has the final say, refused to proceed. Doing so without full support of state wildlife officials would put them in an "untenable position," says Jeff Green, director of the western region for Wildlife Services.

State biologists say the deer's troubles are not due to predators but to continuing loss of habitat from development, wildfire and invading non-native grasses.

Tony Wasley, Nevada's mule deer specialist, says when lack of habitat is the problem, "all the predator control in the world won't result in any benefit."

Gerald Lent, chairman of the Nevada Wildlife Commission, says predators are an important part of Nevada's mule deer problems and addressing them is "long overdue."

The issue is also heating up in Arizona and Oregon. Arizona's mule deer number about 120,000, half the size of the herd in 1986, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Oregon's mule deer numbered 216,154 in 2009, down from 256,000 in 1990, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Duane Dungannon, state coordinator of the Oregon Hunters Association, says that even though mountain lion hunting is allowed year-round, "it's not even putting a dent in the state's cougar population."

"It's no longer that uncommon to bump into a cougar when you're deer or elk hunting, but it's becoming more uncommon to run into a deer or elk," he says.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the non-profit Predator Defense, based in Eugene, Ore., worries the state's cougar population is "crashing" because of year-round hunting.

Source: USA Today

Sunday, April 18, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: WMI Audit Complete, Transparency Sought

A scientific review designed to deflate some of the controversy over the management of deer in Pennsylvania may instead promote it.

The Wildlife Management Institute recently completed a review of the Game Commission's methods for managing deer in the state. It was largely complimentary.

Scot Williamson, vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based institute, told members of the General Assembly's Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Tuesday at the state Capitol that the commission's deer program is "scientifically sound" and based on a "credible model."

"But there is room for continuous improvement," he said.

It was one of his team's recommendations for making things better that has already sparked lots of debate.

Williamson pointed out that Game Commission biologists have been estimating deer populations both statewide and within each of the state's 22 wildlife management units. They have not been making those numbers public, however.

He suggested that needs to change.

Keeping the numbers hidden "has weakened the trust placed in the Pennsylvania Game Commission by the public and has affected the agency's credibility."

Carl Roe, the commission's executive director, defended the agency's practice of staying away from numbers.

For decades, the commission estimated deer populations and released those to the public. That did nothing to eliminate controversy over whether the number of deer in the wild fit the available habitat, he said.

That's why the commission has more recently tried to get hunters and others to look at deer impacts rather than deer numbers alone, he said.

"In reality, that actual estimate is irrelevant to (the deer herd's) effect," Roe said.

"We trained (hunters) to look at deer numbers per square mile. We're trying to shift that to get them to look at forest regeneration.

That's all well and good, said state Rep. Dave Levdansky, the Allegheny County legislator who requested this deer audit be done. But he said the commission should share its deer population estimates, too.

"That's like saying it's important to know whether the balance on my credit card is going up or down over time, but not what the actual balance on my American Express is," Levdansky said. "No, I think they're both important."

Regardless of whether the state talks about deer in terms of numbers or impacts, though, the question of whether the deer herd is the right size figures to go on.

The audit points out that the state's deer herd has been reduced by 25 percent since 2002. Rep. Bob Godshall, a Montgomery County Republican, said Tuesday he thinks most hunters would say the herd's been shrunk considerably more than that.

He called the reduction "the decimation" of the deer population.

Yet Bill Healy, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research biologist who collaborated on the report, said problems with forest regeneration — which has many causes — can only be addressed when deer are in balance with their food supply, and Pennsylvania may not be at that point yet.

"A 25 percent reduction looks like a big change. But it may not be quite enough," Healy said.

Deer recommendations

The Wildlife Management Institute's audit of the Game Commission's deer program called for some change. Its recommendations include:

» Discontinuing its use of counting deer embryos to measure deer health. That can work, but only if the commission were able to collect far more embryos than it is now.

» Expanding the monitoring of forest conditions to determine whether the deer program is leading to more forest regeneration.

» Refine its citizens advisory committees to include more non-hunters and/or have the committee on a statewide basis.

» Counting deer taken in the red tag, DMAP and urban deer programs more fully in its harvest totals.

Source: Pittsburgh Live

Monday, April 12, 2010

MICHIGAN NEWS: Judge Overturns Deer Feeding Ban

An Otsego County judge overturned Michigan's ban on baiting or feeding deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula.

The decision came after state wildlife officials charged a rural Gaylord man with illegally feeding deer from his multiple bird feeders. Ken Borton fought the charge and this week 87th District Court Judge Patricia Morse threw out the case against him and struck down the ban.

Borton said he didn't expect the law to be voided altogether.

"That's not what I was going after. All I wanted was to feed my birds. I'm shocked," Borton said.

The case began when some viewers of Borton's Web site,, reported to the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment that deer ate around the bird feeders where he trained his digital video camera. State officials twice cited Borton for violating the feeding and baiting ban, enacted two years ago after a penned deer in Kent County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Officials told Borton to scoop up empty seed casings daily from around his bird feeders to be in compliance with the law.

Morse instead voided the law as "unconstitutionally vague."

"The statute as drafted gives no guidance as to where and how to exclude wild animals from foraging near bird feeders. It leaves too much room for selective enforcement. It allows fact finders to rely on subjective criteria to determine criminal liability," Morse wrote in her ruling.

Dean Molnar, DNRE law enforcement assistant chief, declined to comment on Morse's ruling, as did spokeswoman Mary Dettloff.

"We have no comment at this time. We're reviewing the opinion," said Dettloff.

She did discuss reasons for the ban.

"The ban was put in place in the Lower Peninsula because of the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Kent County in 2008. We followed the state emergency response plan for chronic wasting disease, which was approved by the Natural Resources Commission and the state Commission of Agriculture," Dettloff said.

Ryan Ratajczak, president of the Northwest Michigan chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, said his group supported the baiting and feeding ban. He's curious about the impact of Morse's ruling.

"I'm wondering how that works now. I think it was justified at the time. They had the plan in place," Ratajczak said. "I think the biggest issue is making sure we've contained CWD."

Ratajczak said he didn't object to allowing hunters to bait, but he'd prefer the decision be made by state wildlife biologists and not lawyers and judges.

Others hailed the court's decision.

"How can we justify spending time investigating a man feeding birds and prosecuting him?" said Zack Cox, owner of the Natural Farm Products store on M-66, south of Kalkaska.

Cox has long sold carrots, corn and sugar beets used by farmers for their livestock or by hunters to bait deer. He always questioned the state's baiting ban and said he's "very pleased" Morse threw it out.

"There's no logic to it. What's the difference between a deer eating at an apple tree or at a small pile of corn feed?" Cox said.

Source: Traverse City Record Eagle

Thursday, April 08, 2010

RESEARCH NEWS: Gaps Made By Matriarchial Group Removal Do Not Last in High Deer Density Populations

Commentary on Miller et al. (2010). Tests of localized deer management for reducing deer browsing in forest regeneration areas. Journal of Wildlife Management 74: 370-378.

Managing deer on very small spatial scales has traditionally been problematic, but efforts to remove matriarchal social groups of deer may hold promise for reducing browsing impacts for 10-15 years. This could possibly create a spatial hole in the deer population, thereby allowing a sufficient window-of-opportunity for regeneration. The effectiveness of this approach depends on how accurately the "rose petal hypothesis" actually characterizes population expansion. The rose petal theory suggests that within a group, matriarchal does are located near the center and younger individuals establish home ranges that overlap radiating outward. In other words, removing matriarchal social groups will only work if deer exhibit low female dispersal distances, high female survival rates, and high philopatry.

Miller et al. tested the rose petal hypothesis in Randolph County, West Virginia (eastern North American deciduous forest). Deer densities were considered high (and in excess of sustainable numbers), estimated at 12-20 per square km, with a very skewed ratio typical of traditionally exploited deer populations (6-15 males: 100 females).

The authors first collected movement data (via telemetry) on 224 animals. A social group was identified and targeted for removal in a 1.1 square km area in 2002. A total of 51 deer were removed, 39 were female. This was estimated to be 80% of the animals in the 1.1 square km target area. Vegetation monitoring consisted of examining browsable units and actual browsing on tree regeneration. A second removal was conducted in 2005, with 26 of 31 removals being females.

After the 2002 removal, browsing dropped from 15% to 5% after removal and persisted at this level for 3 years. Telemetry data indicated that deer from surrounding areas did gradually shift their home range and fill in the void. Animals removed in 2005 were not closely related genetically to the 2002 removal group.

The authors were not sanguine about the effectiveness of this approach. It did provide a short-term benefit to the vegetation, but the duration of the benefit was brief and unlikely to translate to increased regeneration.

INDIANA NEWS: City Creates Community Deer Task Force

Involving the community at the earliest stages is smart politically. It fosters civic engagement and shares the burden of responsibility of decisions.

A southern Indiana city is looking for ways to deal with worries over more deer showing up in urban and suburban areas.

The Bloomington City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved creating a community deer task force following complaints from residents that the animals pose a safety risk.

Councilman Dave Rollo says he hopes the group will present its recommendations by September.

In September, a petition with 500 signatures was presented to City Council members and Monroe County commissioners asking them to create the task force.

Source: WTHR

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

UK NEWS: Deer-Vehicle Collsions Number 74,000 Per Year

The soaring numbers of wild deer are causing havoc on Britain's roads, devastating ancient woodlands and ruining gardens, wildlife experts warned yesterday.

Conservationists say the UK's deer population has doubled since the 1970s and is now close to 2million - a level not seen since the time of the Norman Conquest.

According to new figures from the National Deer Collisions Project, the animals cause 74,000 road accidents each year - and kill up to a dozen drivers and passengers.

Yesterday, Dr Jochen Langbein, co-ordinator of the project, warned that the number of accidents would rise unless the creatures were better controlled.

He said 100 people are injured and up to 12 killed each year when deer run into roads.

Last month an inquest heard how a father of two died when a deer crashed through his windscreen. The animal had been hit by another vehicle near Basingstoke, Hampshire, pushing it into the path of his van.

Insurers pay out around £15million a year to repair cars hit by the animals.

The worst accident blackspots are in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex where more than 300 deer are hit by cars each year.

Accidents involving the animals are often serious because they leap up if they are startled while crossing roads. Some scientists believe they see beams from headlights as solid objects and try to jump over them - ending up crashing into windscreens.

Since the 1970s deer numbers have been rising by three to five per cent a year, and most conservationists agree that 30 per cent of deer have to be shot each year to stop numbers going up.

The muntjac species is a particular nuisance.

Just 20 inches tall, they breed all year round and can be a massive pest for gardeners.

Source: Daily Mail

Friday, April 02, 2010

ILLINOIS NEWS: Forest Preserve Considers Public Deer Hunting

This fall, the Will County Forest Preserve District may become the first in Illinois to allow public hunting on its land.

It's part of a proposed program to bring the deer population down to a healthy level for both the animals and nature, forest preserve officials said.

"We're the first to allow public hunting, but we're the only one not doing any culling," forest preserve district executive director Marcy DeMauro said. "The deer are everywhere."

Before final approval of the deer management program in May, the forest preserve district will hold three meetings to discuss it, including one from 5 to 8 p.m. April 13 at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, McKinley Woods, 25055 W. Walnut Lane, Channahon.

The lack of a previous management program coupled with the urbanization of the county have resulted in deer counts as high as 153 per square mile in Channahon's McKinley Woods. An "acceptable" level is 20 per square mile, officials said.

"All preserves have more deer than can naturally be sustained. We have no choice but to cull the herds," forest preserve board president Cory Singer said. "There is no other reasonable option to consider. Our primary responsibility is to manage and maintain public lands. We have to employ deer management practices. It would be irresponsible not to."

Other options, such as deer repellent, fencing, fertility control and relocation either are too expensive or ineffective, according to forest preserve district research.

Public hunting will be a "small part of the solution," Singer said. A limited number of permits could be issued by a lottery because officials expect high interest from local hunters. Permit fees have yet to be determined.

As in other forest preserves, most herds will be thinned out by sharpshooters - police and trained volunteers who will trap and shoot the deer at night. The meat will be butchered and donated to organizations to feed the hungry.

DeMauro said there would be specified seasons for hunting. Those using firearms would have two three-day sessions in November and December. Archery would be permitted from Oct. 1 through mid-January.

In some areas, trails and preserves would be closed to the public during hunting season, Singer said.

In developing the new deer management program, the forest preserve district must follow the requirements of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Sharpshooting only is allowed in areas with more than 30 acres with a 100-yard buffer from adjacent property owners. Archery and firearms can be used on sites of 70 acres or more, but firearms require a 300-yard buffer. All sites must be fully or partially owned by the forest preserve district.

According to these criteria, 16 sites are suitable for sharpshooting, 14 for archery and eight for firearms, DeMauro said, but it is likely not all will be used.

Singer hopes a successful hunting program will lead to more new programs such as hunting opportunities for youth and people with disabilities and gun safety classes.

Source: Plainfield Sun

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: 308,920 Deer Harvested in 2009-10

Erie hunter Tim Weaver said he saw plenty of big bucks this past hunting season.

But figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on Monday suggest fewer deer overall are being harvested.

Hunters in Pennsylvania killed an estimated 27,000 fewer deer in the 2009-10 seasons than they did a year earlier.

Game Commission figures show the drop was even more significant in northwestern Pennsylvania, where Weaver shot a 10-point Dec. 28 in McKean Township during the flintlock season.

Weaver said the deer he harvested was with five other bucks. Three of them were legal size, including his, meaning they had at least eight points.

The Game Commission's management plan was designed to put more mature antlered deer in the field by limiting the harvest of yearling bucks. It has drawn support from some hunters and criticism from others who believe the state's deer herd has declined.

"It was one of the best years we've ever had hunting," said Weaver, 46. "I would imagine it depends on who you talk to. The guys I hunt with are after trophy-sized deer, so it's been great for us. But if you talk to someone who's strictly a meat hunter, they might say it's been terrible."

The Game Commission's estimates, based on harvest tags returned by hunters and field and processor reports, show a statewide harvest estimate of 308,920 deer, an 8 percent decline from the 335,850 killed in 2008-09.

The commission said hunters killed 108,330 antlered deer, down 12 percent from the 122,410 killed in 2008-09, and 200,590 antlerless deer. Hunters killed 213,440 antlerless deer in 2008-09.

In Wildlife Management Unit 1B, which includes all of Erie County, most of Crawford County and parts of Warren and Venango counties, hunters killed 5,100 antlered deer, a 32 percent drop from the 2008-09 estimate of 7,500. There were 9,500 antlerless deer killed, down from 13,400 in 2008-09 -- a 29 percent decline.

Cambridge Springs resident Dan Young, 34, said he saw far fewer antlerless deer last season and fewer deer overall, but more mature bucks.

"I did find a lot of dead bucks in the woods that weren't legal size," said Young, who primarily hunts during the archery season. "I saw a lot of six-points, which tells me someone shot them and realized they were too small, so they left them there."

Source: GoErie

DELAWARE NEWS: State Restructuring Deer Management for Population Control

By introducing new population-control measures and recruiting non-traditional hunters, state officials hope to reduce agricultural and property damage caused by white-tailed deer.

The state's first long-term deer management plan, which officials say will be finalized in April, could allow the use of crossbows during archery season, reduce the antler width limit to 14 inches and require unlicensed hunters to obtain a free identification number.

"Hunting is the most cost-effective tool we have to help control the deer population," said Joe Rogerson, a large mammal biologist at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

According to Rogerson, the number of hunters purchasing licenses has dropped from about 30,000 in 1975 to 18,000 last year.

"If the declining trend continues, we may not have enough hunters to help control the deer population," he said. "That's why we have to recruit new hunters..."

Many of the proposals in the plan, including those that will be discussed at a March 25 public hearing, are designed to encourage more involvement in hunting, he said.

Although many of those who would turn out for a crossbow season would be existing hunters, Rogerson said its use has led to larger harvests in neighboring states. He believes it will also encourage hunters who had retired from the sport to return.

"It could help older folks who aren't able to draw a bow out like they used to," he said.

The proposal to reduce the antler size restriction came after biological data indicated more fawns and younger deer were making it to adulthood, Rogerson said, adding that the identification number will help better track hunters who aren't required to obtain licenses.

The 10-year-plan also calls for the recruitment of young hunters and those in non-traditional groups, such as nature enthusiasts who also spend time in the forests, he said.

Charles Steele, owner of Steele's Gun Shop in Lewes, said most hunters are satisfied with the existing rules, but expanding hunting could be a good thing.

"Anything you can do to make the sport better and limit the amount of car crashes with deer would be great," he said.

Source: Delmarvanow

Friday, March 19, 2010

NEBRASKA NEWS: Antlerless Season Extended in Effort To Reduce Population

Nebraska's deer population has increased about tenfold in the last 40 years. This has brought the usual complaints from farmers and drivers. Now Nebraska is proposing some deer season changes in an effort to reduce the state's deer population size. The key provisions:

Nebraska Game and Parks officials have adopted a new set of regulations designed to help cut Nebraska's plentiful supply of white-tailed deer.

Among others changes approved Friday by the commissioners at their meeting in Lincoln, they expanded the October antlerless season to 10 days from three and increased the hunting area.

Commissioners also lengthened the January antlerless season to 24 days from 15.

If there are enough hunters in the woods and fields and they are supportive of this direction, the policy change will likely be effective in moving the deer population in the desired direction.

Source: Nebraska TV

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NORTH DAKOTA NEWS: Deer Tests Positive for CWD

A sick-looking mule deer taken last fall in western Sioux County of southwestern North Dakota has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials were notified of the diagnosis this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services. It marks the first time CWD has been detected in a North Dakota animal.

Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said a hunter in Unit 3F2 shot an adult buck that did not appear to be healthy.

“As we do with our targeted surveillance efforts, we collected the sample to test for CWD and bovine tuberculosis,” Grove said in a news release.

The Game and Fish Department’s targeted surveillance program is an ongoing, year-round effort that tests animals found dead or sick.

“We have been constantly monitoring and enhancing our surveillance efforts for CWD because of its presence in bordering states and provinces,” said Greg Link, assistant wildlife division chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck.

In addition to targeted surveillance, the department annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. In January, more than 3,000 targeted and hunter-harvested samples were sent to a lab in Minnesota. As of today, about two-thirds of the samples had been tested, with the one positive result. The remaining samples will be tested over the next month.

Link said monitoring efforts have intensified in recent years, and all units have been completed twice throughout the entire state.

“The deer population in Unit 3F2 is above management goals, and hunter pressure will continue to be put on the population in that unit again this fall,” Link said. “We are going to be aggressive with licenses and disease surveillance in that unit.”

Since the department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 14,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD.

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.

Source: Grand Forks Herald

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RESEARCH NEWS: Coyotes Not Decimating Pennsylvania Deer

It’s a question that has captured the imagination of Keystone State deer hunters and wildlife lovers: Has increased predation on helpless deer fawns by an growing population of Eastern coyotes resulted in dwindling whitetail numbers across Pennsylvania’s rugged northern reaches? The answer is no, according to a deer researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“It’s a cruel world out there for wildlife,” said Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology and leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit housed in the college’s School of Forest Resources, “but it’s no crueler in Pennsylvania than other states.”

There is no question the coyote population has grown dramatically in the Northeast in recent decades, he said, and everyone agrees that coyotes do prey on fawns, “but our data tell us that coyote predation is not an issue in Pennsylvania.”

Diefenbach should know. Nationally recognized for his deer research, he has been involved in all the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer studies since 2000, overseeing a groundbreaking fawn-mortality study completed in 2002. For the last decade he and his students have been monitoring hundreds of deer they captured and fitted with radio collars, about 3,000 in total, carefully documenting the animals’ movements, behavior and fates.

“Significantly, very, very few adult deer in our studies have succumbed to predation from coyotes, bears or anything else,” he said. “We now know that in this state, once a deer reaches about 12 months of age, the only significant mortal dangers it faces are getting hit by a car or being harvested by a hunter. By far, most of the time when a coyote eats venison, it is from a road-killed animal, or from a deer that was wounded by a hunter but not retrieved.”

We know fawns often are killed and eaten by coyotes and bears, Diefenbach said, but that has always been the case.

“When we monitored more than 200 radio-collared fawns from 2000 to 2002, the survival rates of fawns in Pennsylvania were similar to what was previously found in Maine, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and New Brunswick, Canada,” he said. “Our research has shown that overall mortality here is not extraordinary.”

About 50 percent of fawns make it to six months of age, Diefenbach said.

“The general pattern in Pennsylvania and in other states and provinces is that we have seen slightly higher fawn survival rates in agricultural areas because there is less predation, and in forested habitats we see slightly lower survival rates.”

According to Diefenbach, the literature shows that fawn survival for the first year of life in forested landscapes is about 25 percent.

“Our work showed that Pennsylvania came in at about 28 percent,” he said. “Our research also showed that fawns in Pennsylvania agricultural landscapes have a 52 percent survival rate.”

Some people have encouraged the Game Commission to implement a study of fawn predation by coyotes, but Diefenbach contends that it is not needed.

“I know this may be an unpopular view, but it is not readily apparent to me how another study on fawn mortality will help us better manage deer,” he said. “Our 2000-to-2002 fawn study showed that fawn-predation rates were normal here, and I don’t have any evidence that anything has changed since then — no available data, such as changes in hunter-success rates in harvesting deer, suggest that coyote predation is increasing. If it is, then hunters should be harvesting fewer young deer, and we are not seeing that.”

Diefenbach points to information contained in recent years’ deer-hunter harvests that show fawn predation is not growing at an alarming rate.

“The fawn component of the hunter harvest — typically about 40 percent of antlerless deer killed by hunters — has remained largely unchanged for many years. If fewer fawns were surviving because of increased coyote predation, they would not be available to hunters.”

Still, Diefenbach understands the emotional reaction of hunters and wildlife lovers to fawns being killed and eaten by predators such as coyotes, and he said that continuing deer research conducted by his unit at Penn State is examining fawn numbers and survival.

“Peoples’ natural reaction to hearing and seeing coyotes, and knowing that they are everywhere in Pennsylvania, is to wonder how many fawns they kill,” he said, “but I don’t know what we would learn if we conducted another fawn-survival study, especially because of what we already know about deer-coyote ecology. I am advising a graduate student right now who is evaluating the assumptions and methods that we use to track and monitor deer-population trends in this state. His research is focused on the validity of the model we use to manage deer. All of his work done so far — both in the field and with computer simulations — doesn’t show any evidence of a decline in deer numbers because we are not recruiting fawns into the population.”

Source: GantDaily