Every deer population control method has its share of controversy. And yet, without population control, the deer and the forest will both continue to suffer. Here is a brief description of the currently available methods of population control, the issues pertaining to each, and their effectiveness.
Issues: These hunts are deplored by those who believe all hunting is inhumane. Others are concerned that volunteer hunters may not be skilled enough to effect a quick, painless kill.
Effectiveness: One problem is that most sport hunters still target trophy bucks. However, to effectively manage the population, does should be targeted.
Issues: These hunts are deplored by those who believe all hunting is inhumane.
Effectiveness: This approach is considered the most cost-effective by many localities.
Issues: In some states, where wolves have been reintroduced or where the suburbs have begun to encroach on mountain lion habitat, conflicts arise when farmers or residents blame predators for the loss of livestock or pets.
Effectiveness: It is difficult to reintroduce large predators, such as the mountain lion, into remnant habitat fragments. This technique clearly has more potential in wilderness areas than in urban and suburban communities. Wolves, for example, have been successfully reintroduced in a number of wilderness areas. However, there is data to show that wolves can also adapt to more open, less wild areas.
Issues: No one knows what the impact would be of the wide-scale release of contraceptive drugs into the environment through wildlife. There is concern that these substances might affect non-target species or end up contaminating the environment. Contragestation programs may be culturally unacceptable and people may object to finding deer fetuses in urban areas.
Effectiveness: Contraception works best on confined populations, where one can be reasonably sure that the deer have been treated consistently. (Depending on the drug involved, treatments must be repeated at least every two years.) Managers also need a way to tell which deer have been treated. Where individuals roam widely, this is very difficult.
Currently, Montgomery County Parks Departments uses both managed hunts and sharpshooters to control deer. Managed hunts were implemented in the County in the Fall of 1996 and have occurred annually ever since. Currently, managed hunts are being conducted in eight County parks annually:
Police-based sharpshooting was implemented in the County in the spring of 1999 and has occurred annually ever since.
To date, the Department has conducted police-based sharpshooting programs in ten County parks:
Together these programs cover about 40 percent of the County’s Parks. There are additional areas where management has been recommended, but funding is not available for expanding the program. (For more information on deer management in the County, see the following webpage: www.montgomeryparks.org/ caring-for-our-parks/wildlife/deer-management.) [Note: This URL has been updated since the printing of the newsletter.]
While I was able to find reports on the number of deer harvested each year by these programs, I could not find anything showing the change in deer density over time. Nor could I find anything comparing current density figures to the deer density goals. Without this information, it is hard to objectively say what impact the program is having. Similarly, reports mention improvements in vegetation, such as the return of orchids and lilies to some areas, but I could find no actual data. Without data, there is no way to quantify this improvement. ■Read Part 1: The Reasons Behind All The Deer Read Part 2: Deer Repellent
© 2010 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201010c.html]