What to do about too many deer?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:

The problem

Four aircraft––each carrying
more than 100 passengers––hit deer
during October and early November
while landing at the BaltimoreWashington
International Airport. The
Federal Aviation Administration recorded
2,287 collisions between aircraft and
wildlife in 1994, but only about 60
involved mammals of any kind. One
plane hit an alligator; the rest hit birds.
Still, airport brass aren’t taking chances.
While deer shooting hasn’t yet started at
Baltimore/Washington, a USDA Animal
Damage Control team on November 15
began killing the 50-odd deer believed to
inhabit the Philadelphia International
Airport. The ADC earlier shot deer at the
Chicago, New York, and Denver airports.


A private contractor shot 43 deer
at the airport in Orlando, at $100 apiece.
Deer/car collisions in Ohio
rose from 24,264 in 1993 to 25,636 in
1 9 9 4 , as the deer population grew an
estimated five to 10%, topping 500,000.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife worked to
increase the deer herd for more than 30
years, after the 1961 deer season was
cancelled and doe hunting was banned
because there were too few deer.
In Michigan, where in 1988
the state Department of Natural
Resources boasted of raising the deer
herd a third above the natural carrying
capacity of the habitat to accommodate
hunters, the herd is now at a near record
two million. Michigan drivers reported
56,666 deer/car collisions in 1994, a
19% increase from 1993, resulting in
five human fatalities, 2,040 injuries, and
insurance claims averaging $1,400
apiece. Deer also caused an estimated
$25 million in crop damage, according to
the Michigan Farm Bureau.
The Committee to Abolish
Sport Hunting has pledged to aid New
York state victims of deer/car accidents
in suing the Department of
Environmental Conservation for allegedly
contributing to the risk via policies that
encourage the growth of the deer herd.
“If people understood that the DEC intentionally
works toward the overpopulation
of deer to create hunting targets,” CASH
president Anne Muller told the
Middletown Times Herald Record, “they
would demand a change.” Deer/car collisions
in New York were reportedly up in
1995, after declining from the 1992 high
of 11,822 to 9,453 in 1994.

Culling

Humane Society of the U.S.
senior scientist Allen Rutberg objected
in October to the National Park Service
plan to kill deer at Gettysburg National
Military Park––because, “They probably
won’t kill enough deer in the short run
and so won’t affect the long run.”
Rutberg said the Park Service hadn’t
assigned enough personnel to kill the requisite
400 of the park’s 1,148 deer during
the lull between tourist seasons.
Because the New Jersey
Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife
refused to grant the Morris County Park
Commission a waiver of liability if anyone
was hurt, an HSUS-approved deer
hunt slated for Lewis Morris State Park
has been postponed until 1996. A similar
hunt meant to cull up to 180 deer from
the nearby Watchung Reservation––
where HSUS approved a cull in
1993––was to proceed on schedule.
A year after Highland Park,
Illinois, first announced and then cancelled
a plan to kill deer, a city task
force in October recommended killing 20
deer. The Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria,
run by the Forest Park Foundation, then
agreed to take the deer, after earlier
refusing them.
The Argonne National
L a b o r a t o r y, near Lemont, Illinois, is
hiring USDA sharpshooters to reduce the
resident deer herd from circa 570 to
fewer than 100. Both native whitetails
and European fallow deer roam the 2.4-
square-mile Argonne site.
The planned village of Landfall,
North Carolina, was promoted
with ads showing three deer, captioned

“Live at Landfall and you’ll have to share
it with hundreds of other residents.” But
in September, Landfall hosted a bowhunt
intended to kill up to 30 deer.
Edmond, Oklahoma, after
six years of debate, hosted three
bowhunts in October to cull deer at Lake
Arcadia. Thirty deer were to be killed,
but fewer than half as many actually
were, as hunters reportedly refused shots
at does to seek a trophy buck.
Do-it-yourself wildlife control
has raised a ruckus in Vermont for the
third year in four. In 1992, orchardists
got into trouble when poison put out for
field mice also killed wild turkeys. In
1993 hunters were outraged at Shelburne
Farms, south of Burlington, which does
not allow hunting, when an overseer
admitted shooting 25 deer on the grounds
himself. This year, Southern Vermont
Orchards owner Harold Albinder, of
Bennington, escaped prosecution despite
hiring a sharpshooter without a permit,
who reputedly killed at least 17 deer.

Contraception
Fox Point, Wisconsin, is
reportedly exploring a $10,000 threeyear
plan to surgically sterilize deer,
at recommendation of village manager
Susan Joyce. Questions under review
include capture and release techniques,
surgical methods, personnel needs,
and scheduling. The plan is to be funded
by an anonymous local foundation.
The first-ever deer hunt at
Potato Creek State Park, Indiana,
was slated for November 27-29, along
with hunts in four other Indiana parks.
“Fund for Animals representative Judi
Lauth went to Pohagen Park with Dr.
John Turner of Ohio Medical College,”
reported South Bend activist Sue Clark,
“to see if it was an appropriate site for
contraception.” As a leading expert on
deer contraception, Turner “said it
was,” Clark continued. “Judi called
me and said the Humane Society of the
U.S. had finally agreed to help, and
would send press releases nationally on
August 29, followed by an alert to
Indiana activists. None came.
Apparently the naturalist at Pohagan
sent the word, and immediately the
hunts were announced.” By September
1, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources had set up a drawing for
park hunting permits.
Working with HSUS,
Columbus, Ohio, was to test a deer
contraceptive through November.

Elk
Deadline was November 25
for receipt of public comments o n
plans to limit the tule elk population at
Point Reyes National Seashore, in
California. The requisite environmental
assessment was only issued on October
23, however, and sufficient interest
could result in an extension of the comment
period. Get the assessment report
from the Dept. of the Interior, Division
of Natural Resources Management, at
415-663-8525.
Elk/car collisions, according
to the October 30 edition of Newsweek,
“are now the second national leading
cause of road accidents,” after alcohol,
in Finland.

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