Deer Facts

General Facts

  • In areas of overpopulation, deer cause an over browsing affect called a "browse line".  In areas with a browse line, most plant species below the browse line are stripped bare damaging the habitat for many species.  These browse lines can be from four to six feet high.  Deer Browsing
  • Deer establish a territory and will not leave it.
  • Deer are known to starve rather than leave their domain.
  • Just 2 deer without predation can produce a herd of up to 35 deer in just 7 years.
  • Deer can live up to 11 years in the wild.
  • Under optimal conditions without regulating factors like predators or hunting, deer populations can double in size annually.
  • Two of the considerations used when establishing a deer management plan are Biological Carrying Capacity (BCC) and Cultural Carrying Capacity (CCC). 

Deer Damage and Problems

  • A recent survey of U.S. farm leaders revealed that as many as 56% believed they had suffered crop damage by wildlife and the Whitetail deer was named as the primary culprit.

  • Pennsylvania farmers suffer crop damage of an estimated $30 million annually, Wisconsin estimates it's farmers are hit for $37 million annually.

  • Back in 1995, conservative estimates place deer-car collisions in the us at over 500,000 annually. Vehicle damage is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • The annual damage in New Jersey alone is estimated to exceed $10 million dollars. These accidents resulted in thousands of injuries and over 100 deaths.
  • Suburban home owners spend thousands of dollars on replacing landscaping plants defoliated or damaged by deer.
  • In 1995, Lyme disease was considered to be the fastest growing infectious disease next to AIDS. Some scientists see a strong link between high deer densities and Lyme disease.
  • In Pennsylvania, a state that tracks deer-vehicle collisions, there are over 40,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually.
  • Even more important is the cost in human life.  During the 1985-1994 period, 12 fatalities were reported as a result of deer-vehicle collisions in Virginia.

Deer Management Options

  • Fencing and Repellents

    • Fencing is expensive

    • Repellants require frequent applications

    • Repellants are less effective on high density deer populations
  • Trap and Transfer
    • Labor intensive and expensive costs can average $261-$567 per deer
    • Mortality rates after relocation can exceed 75%
    • Relocated deer may spread disease to new populations
  • Fertility agents
    • They are experimental
    • They don't affect the current population size
    • Have potential impacts on the gene pool
    • Costly and impractical ($150-$500 per deer)
    • Have problems with dosage control and ingestion of anti-fertility agents by non-targeted animals and humans.
    • According to a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the cost of administering contraceptives exceeds $500 per deer treated. This study assumed:
      • No deer left or entered the herd being treated.
      • The contraceptive was administered with a single shot and was 100% effective.
      • The efficiency of autumn darting was similar to winter sharpshooting over bait with a high-power rifle.
      • All deer were infertile with a single treatment. (Not possible with contraceptives available today).
      • No deer were accidentally darted twice.
      • It was possible to distinguish between male and female fawns before darting.
      • Since it is doubtful that any of these assumptions would hold true, the actual cost would far exceed the estimate of $500 per deer treated.
  • Bowhunting
    • Offers a low profile method of managing deer herd numbers.
    • Effective in small areas close to houses, farms and roads.
    • SWMNV Member hunters are certified by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation.
    • Hunting is performed from a safe elevated position, shooting downward at an average range of 20 yards.
    • Although Virginia Law strongly supports the property owner, SWMNV insurance provides liability coverage for each member hunter as well as the host property owner.
    • Today's compound bows and razor sharp broadheads in the hands of experienced archers are capable of harvesting deer quickly, cleanly, and humanely.
    • The most in-depth study ever conducted of wounding caused by bowhunting was performed by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Camp Ripley over a 4 year period. It concluded:
      • Almost 87% were eventually recovered
      • Slightly over 13% of the deer shot by Bowhunters were unaccounted for.
      • The fate of that 13% is unknown. Possibilities range from flesh wound recoveries to death.

 

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