Why Bowhunting Works

Deer Management Options

While other population control options such as fencing, repellents, trap and transfer, fertility agents, sharp shooting, and controlled public shotgun huntshave been studied and restudied, bowhunting consistently proves to be the most cost efficient and effective option for deer management in suburban areas.Fencing is expensive; repellants require frequent applications and are less affective at high population densities. Trap and transfer is not only labor intensive and expensive (costs average $261-567 per deer), but also has a high mortality rate after relocation, sometimes as high as 75-80%. Some relocated deer may also spread disease. Fertility agents are experimental, costly, impractical (averaging $150-$500 per deer), and ineffective on the current population size. Dosage control and ingestion of anti-fertility agents by non-target animals and humans as well as the potential negative impacts on deer genetics are also a concern. Sharp shooting programs are expensive and require larger contiguous tracts of land to ensure safety. Some programs have cost taxpayers as much as $40-60,000. Finally, public shotgun hunts are controversial, but they can be effective on larger tracts.

Bowhunting is a sound management tool and has been used for years in areas such as Quantico Marine Corps Base, and Fort Belvoir Army Base. Bowhunting offers a safe, low profile method of managing deer herd numbers, and is effective in small areas close to houses, farms, and roads. Bowhunting provides an immediate population reduction. It closely resembles, and is part of natural predation. In Northern Virginia, natural predators such as mountain lions and wolves no longer threaten deer. Hunting with bow and arrow is the most safe, practical, and economic method of reducing herd size to an acceptable level.

Furthermore, bowhunting opens areas to wildlife management that would otherwise be closed. In populated areas of Northern Virginia, human habitation prevents or limits the use of firearms for hunting overpopulated deer herds. This can result in destruction of habitat, increased human/deer conflicts and negative effects on human life, health and property. Deer can be removed in a selective fashion with a specific age and sex group being targeted in overpopulated areas. Typically more does need to be removed. By targeting adult does, maximum population reduction can be achieved quicker. This helps keep the herd to a size compatible with the carrying capacity of the habitat and within human tolerance level.

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