Too many deer

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Deer overpopulation remained a hot
issue right through the winter in at least four
states. In Pennsylvania, where the legislature
recently mandated a 6.5% cut in the deer herd,
the state Game Commission enlisted the
National Guard to plow 1,200 miles of roads
and trails to enable hungry deer to reach 875
food plots at 65 public access hunting areas.
Without the feeding, some deer might have
starved––and many pregnant does would have
reabsorbed their fetuses, achieving the reduc-
tion in herd size independent of sport hunting.

In Ohio, meanwhile, the Division of
Wildlife was at deadline proclaiming the fail-
ure of a relocation experiment, and investigat-
ing charges against deer and elk breeder Robin
Rodabaugh, of Hartsville, who was allowed
to live-trap and remove 286 deer last fall from
Sharon Woods Park, near the Columbus sub-
urb of Westerville. Wardens in mid-February
found 63 deer standing in a slurry of icy water
and manure in Rodabaugh’s barn. Three dead
deer lay in the water, while 13 more dead deer
were piled behind the barn. Another two were
found at other sites Rodabaugh owns. In all,
57 deer died during tranquilization and trans-
fer, wardens said; an additional 36 died later.
Rodabaugh, who denied intending
to sell the deer either to canned hunts or for
slaughter, said he was framed because “They
really want the parks hunted. The animals
were in a wet situation for three days,” he
added, after record-breaking cold froze the
drains in the barn. “I got no sympathy or help
in providing another place for them.”
Rodabaugh said the Division of Wildlife
wouldn’t let him take deer elswewhere.
Local animal protection advo-
cates––some of whom warned months ago that
Rodabaugh probably couldn’t handle the size
of the job he was taking on––charged that the
Division of Wildlife contracted with him in the
first place in hopes of discrediting alternatives
to hunting at Sharon Woods. Another 151 deer
still inhabit the park, where according to the
Division of Wildlife the natural carrying
capacity should be 50.
Two other deer-trappers had similar
problems on a smaller scale. Six of 16 deer
trapped by Rick Garrabrandt of Westerville
were dead by March 1, as were nine of 32 deer
trapped by Jim Mulinix of Alliance.
In Wisconsin, meanwhile, officials
of the town of River Hills and the 185-acre
Schlitz Audubon Center heralded as a success
the relocation of 120 deer to the South Eden
Preserve, a canned hunt near Fond du Lac
which already had about 260 deer (including
100 bucks) on 530 acres.
Rejecting relocation and birth control
as viable options, the DuPage County Forest
Preserve on the outskirts of Chicago will con-
tinue a controversial cull begun last year, in
which deer are lured to bait, trapped in a rock-
et-propelled cargo net, and then killed with a
captive-bolt gun. The nearby Lake County
Forest Preserve recently agreed to a one-year
moratorium on deer culling.
The DuPage County Transportation
Committee has meanwhile proposed the instal-
lation of reflectors to cut deer/car collisions.
The Elsa Wild Animal Appeal is helping to
raise the $25,000 cost.
Glencoe, another Chicago suburb,
on March 15 rejected a referendum effort by
Friends of the Glencoe Deer to halt the popula-
tion control killing of 30 deer, 16 of whom
were apparently killed before the vote. The
margin was 58% anti-deer; 42% pro-deer.
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