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