The Potomac Highlands Watershed School
Oh Deer! Environmental Forum 2007
Consensus Position Statements - Archives
Rappahannock High School
North Harford High School 11/19/2007
Buffalo Gap High School
Rappahannock High School
Beaver Final Consensus Plan 11/8/2007 at 8:23:00 AM
Whitetail Deer in Richmond County, Virginia
There are 850,000 to 1 million whitetail deer in Virginia. These deer prevent forest plants from regenerating because they like to eat oak and hickory seedling and their nuts. Deer keep down shrub and herb layer, which is cover and food for many other species including many songbirds. Deer eat 3 to 5% of body weight each day. By rolling, trampling, and shedding deer are the cause of damage to farm and forest crops and trees in their habitat.
Deer cause the spread of Lyme disease. Over 150,000 cases are reported in the U.S. since 1982. 357 cases were reported in Virginia.
Every year more than 40,000 deer collide with cars. There is an estimated $90,000,000 in damage claims not to mention hospitalization costs. Virginia is one of the top 10 states for deer/auto accidents.
. Hunters kill 209,373 deer in Virginia, which still does not control the population.
Deer populations need to be reduced to protect their health and the health and property of humans. Possible solutions include:
1. Drivers need knowledge of defensive driving tips such as using extra caution in deer zones and during hunting season.
2. Fencing is possible for small areas only because it is expensive.
3. Hunters should be allowed more doe tags which will ultimately control the number of fawns. Each additional doe tag should cost 2 dollars that would be earmarked for conservation use only.
4. There must be education for the general public about damage deer cause by overpopulation to both biotic and abiotic elements of their habitat. We suggest radio and television infomercials similar to the Smoky Bear blitz.
5. Farmers should recruit hunt clubs to hunt in off-season using the crop damage stamps.
6. Dogs are usually well cared for. They should be fitted with radio collars for locating them after a hunt. Dog season should be limited to the 6 weeks of traditional season. We recommend extending the hunting season from October 1 to January 10 but maintaining the dog season from Nov15 to Jan 2.
Rappahannock High School
Raccoon Consensus Statement Submitted 11/8/2007 at 10:21:00 AM
Whitetail deer overpopulation creates problems for everyone. Damage stamps are issued to farmers when they can document excessive damage by deer. Deer can completely wipe out a forest species. This would include the dominant tree species. Oak and hickory seedlings and nuts are two of their favorite foods. Whitetail deer eat 4 to 10 pounds of forage daily. Overpopulation lowers biodiversity because the browsing includes the food and shelter of other animals. There are over 500 thousand deer-related car accidents annually in the US. The average insurance claim is $2000.
The solutions depend on the severity of the problem. Hunting is a solution used the most often. In the Northern Neck of Virginia dogs are used to hunt deer. They are usually well cared for even in the off-season but there are cases of mistreatment including abandonment. Dogs are an economic addition to the local economy. We feel that there should be 8 tags issued for the regular season of November 15 to January 5, which would be 2 additional doe-only tags. We feel that the season should start September 1 but that dogs should not be allowed during this extended time from September 1 to November 15 because soybeans are still in the fields. There should be 2 doe-only tags issued for this season. There should be not additional charge for the extended season and it would be eliminated if the deer population were to drop to acceptable levels to sustain the forests, wildlife, and farm crops.
Rappahannock High School
Skunk's Consensus Statement Submitted 11/8/2007 at 11:00:00 AM
Overpopulation of Whitetail deer is a problem in the Northern Neck. Too many deer alter their habitat. They create unhealthy forests by eating the understory, the seeds and the seedlings. This creates an advantage for alien species and less desirable food and shelter plants. They also damage trees with their antlers. If the overpopulation continues for 100 years oaks and hickory will no longer dominate our eastern forests because they are two of the favorite foods of deer. Deer increase the possibility of an accident at night because of the difficulty of seeing deer crossing the roads. Deer are often the cause of fatal accidents – 150 nationwide annually. Deer cause damage to farm crops.
Solutions to the overpopulation of whitetail deer are possible.
In Virginia there were 223,198 deer reported killed by hunters. The more deer killed the less competition there is between the deer and more food there is available for them and for other species. Coyote have recently been come to the Northern Neck. These are a natural predator to deer – they like the fawn. They may become a factor in population control.
Deer hunting programs have been created to decrease damage to farm crops. Fences can be used but they are expensive. Farmers can give permission for hunters to harvest deer during hunting season or using damage tags.
Dogs are used in our area. They are an issue. Some dogs are mistreated. One method to improve dog care is to use radio collars and tracking system so dogs can be located at the end of each day. As a class we agree that these collars must be on any hunting dog not on your own property.
More doe tags might increase the harvest.
The highways can be made safer. There are reflectors that shine on the deer and scare them away from the roads. Underpasses should be available for the deer to use. Mowing is necessary on a regular basis to remove food that attracts deer.
We can ban clearcut logging which increases deer food and shelter.
Rappahannock High School
Coyote Consensus Statement Submitted 11/8/2007 at 1:17:00 PM
There is an overpopulation of whitetail deer. There is an excessive amount of crop damage totaling to half a million dollars in Virginia alone. Repellants and fences are very expensive, and most small independent farmers can’t afford them. Small farmers would have to spend more in deterrents than their profit. Deer strip bark from oak trees. They eat much of the shrub and herb layer of a forest thus greatly decreasing the food and shelter of other organisms. Car insurance goes up 5% to 100% after a motorist has a claim for deer accident. An estimated 350,000 deer are killed annually in the US by motor vehicles while hunters harvest only 223,000 in Virginia.
Even with the current hunting and car accidents there are still too many deer. Hunting is a cheap way to decrease the population. We think that the season should be extended to start August 1 for bow and black powder hunting. Hunters in the Northern Neck can use dogs to run deer during the regular hunting season. This extension would not include dogs. The extended season would include 6 tags for doe only. There should be no additional charge for the early season but it would require a license and tagging all deer. We would like to be able to trap, neuter and release but this is expensive. It could be used for game preserves).
In recent years the deer population has exploded. This has affected many aspects of typical human life including farming, driving, insurance rates, homeownership, and forest management. The deer population needs to be controlled in order to bring balance to the environment.
We have come to consensus that to solve the deer population problem there should be an extended hunting season. This will allow hunters more time to hunt deer and help decrease the deer population to get the numbers under control quickly. However, this approach also includes some consequences. Hunters tend to take the prize deer and then leave behind the sickly, weak deer to reproduce. This will cause the entire deer population to become genetically inferior.
Another option to be considered is the reintroduction of natural predators such as wolves. Reintroducing keystone species such as wolves helps to balance an entire ecosystem. The reintroduction of natural predators will help to enhance the deer population by taking the weak deer and leaving the strong deer to reproduce. To lessen the fears of farmers and ranchers of the wolf population, wolf-attack insurance will be provided to pay for all damages or losses caused by wolves.
Never before in our generation have people lived alongside natural predators. Even the great environmental writer Henry David Thoreau believed that “In wildness is the salvation of the world.” Education will be required to inform the public of coexisting with natural predators. Types of education would include commercial, posters, and radio. Through education the public will learn the benefits of living along side natural predators and help to pacify their fears of “the big bad wolf.”
Yet another option to be explored is forest fencing. This method is expensive but effective. Forest fencing requires plots of forest to be enclosed by fencing to prevent the deer from eating the understory and promoting the growth of small plants that deer would typically eat. Since riparian zones are highly browsed areas, we propose to implement the use of tree shelters in a hundred-foot buffer zone along all streams. A study being conducted by the Cacapon Institute shows that the tree shelters and the fencing combined are the most effective way to keep deer out of an area.
The above five actions will prove to be effective in managing the over population of deer. Working with members of each stakeholder group, we have compromised to form the above management plan.
To manage the overpopulation of deer, the Clear Spring High School Agricultural Academy students recommend the following management practices to control the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. We feel that our solution will be acceptable to our stakeholders which are the following: Homeowners, foresters, farmers, hunters, and DNR. Some of our solutions are as follows.
The homeowner’s stakeholders group suggests that a wireless deer fence be installed around homeowner’s property. This is one of the newest products and is guaranteed to train deer and other animals such as dogs to stay out of yards. The fence posts are $60 for three posts which may seem relatively expensive, but compared to losing your garden is quite reasonable. Each post creates a 7 foot electric fence that deer are unable to go above or below. These posts should be placed along the trail or route that the deer take to and from the homeowner’s property. Since it is unreasonable for homeowners to shoot the obnoxious deer in populated areas, we feel that for those homeowners that are willing to implement the wireless deer fence they should be partially compensated.
The forester stakeholders main concern is that of loss of habitat due to overpopulation of deer. Because of this they are recommending hunting; this includes hunting on state ground that is currently off limits to hunters. With this plan only hunters that received special permits through a lottery would be allowed to hunt on the state ground. This would make it so that the number of deer hunted was still controlled because only a limited number of state ground permits would be available. Another stipulation to hunting on state land is that some of the meat must be given to the hunters give to the hungry foundation.
All though many farmers are very frustrated with deer causing damage to their crops, they still realize that the solution is not to kill all the deer. Instead they need allow others to hunt on their property in order to get the local deer populations to healthy numbers. In addition farmers are encouraged to use crop damage permits, which allow them to shoot problematic deer out of season. There are some stipulations to these permits, such as: the number of deer that can be taken in a specific area and the type of deer allowed to be taken (i.e. buck, or doe).
Through our research we have found that the hunter’s stakeholder group is very important in keeping deer populations in check. Hunting is the number one way to control deer populations. Through hunters purchasing their license the money goes to conservation efforts. So not only are hunters helping to keep deer at a healthy population, but also they are helping to maintain the natural resources. We believe that by re implementing check-in stations it will solve many of the problems that have come from the loss of these stations.
DNR stakeholders have an essential job. They are in charge of managing deer populations across the entire state. Through DNR 37 million dollars is collected each year from taxes. This money can then be used to benefit all the stakeholders. For example this money could help compensate homeowners for implementing wireless deer fence, or aid farmers when their crops have been destroyed by deer.
Final Consensus Plan
The deer population could best be regulated if left alone by humans (http://www.idausa.org/facts/deercontrol.html). However as farmers we cannot afford the damages caused by the deer population. There are fives ways to prevent this damage: exclusion, cultural methods, scare devices, repellents, and culling or harvest (http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/deercontrol.html#manag). Exclusion (fencing) deer costs the farmer money. This is not always economical. Cultural methods (planting species that are undesirable to deer) is not an option for farmers. Crops that are planted cannot be selected based on a deer’s palate, but for the livestock it will feed. Scare devices are usually economical for most people and can keep the deer away from crops. Repellents are best for high value crops. They can be extremely expensive and are rarely economical for most farmers. There are also many regulations on using repellents. Culling deer often is the easiest method. Many hunters are eager for deer season to arrive. However, just hunting bucks will do little to reduce the population and damage to crops. Does must be hunted to receive the desired result. Damage permits may be issued to farmers and land owners with extreme damage. However, these permits can cause some public controversy.
As farmers, we do not want any harm to come to the deer population. We only want to prevent the damage done to our crops. Agriculture in Virginia will suffer if the population is not effectively controlled.
Furthermore, most people enjoy seeing wildlife, but maximizing wildlife populations so that we can enjoy them, is not necessarily healthy for them or the rest of our ecosystem. When exceeding the natural carrying capacity or a population that can be supported without destruction of the environment, is only inviting disaster. Weakness, stress, disease, and even starvation are likely outcomes to wildlife populations if the carrying capacity is exceeded for an extended period of time. High deer populations have resulted in an increase of wildlife-related vehicle accidents, crop damage, and animal nuisance problems. The old practice of not shooting doe deer is no longer appropriate but is still adhered to by many hunters out of the traditional belief that doe hunting hurts the population. Today, Hunters are accustomed to seeing more deer than is healthy for the environment, and have an expectation of seeing deer at these levels. A balanced herd has one buck to every three antlerless deer (one buck, one doe, one button buck, one yearling doe). To balance the population, it is recommended that hunters harvest 7 to 8 antlerless deer per square mile. When the population is in balance the harvest should take at least three antlerless deer per square mile to keep it that way. This "policy" is not to prevent hunting, or to reduce hunting. It is simply to keep the population in check by bagging correct amounts of does and bucks so that the population does not explode or drop drastically. On properties with far too many deer per square mile, the habitat for most wildlife is destroyed, plants cannot reproduce, food is scarce, shelter is destroyed, deer health is reduced and it is imperative to reduce the deer herd.
In light of the question posted on our first paper, we have decided that only extending rifle season isn’t enough. To thoroughly give a solution to the problem we should extend all the seasons. This would hereby give hunters ample time to thin out the population of deer in the state. The state of Virginia has a limit of 6 at this present time, we believe to fully control the population we should increase this number to at least 7 to possibly 8. Yes, it is a small increase, but just a small adjustment can mean a lot when it comes to the whole state. There are usually 8 does to every 1 buck, so if we kill 1 buck, that means there are 8 does that will not have a fawn for the next year. Therefore 8 less deer for the following year, that couldn’t get hit by cars or run over by farmers working in the field. If we increase that number to 5 or 6 bucks a year, you decrease the number of 40 to 50 does without fawns, and that’s without counting the number of does that are legal to kill.
We should also isolate the deer from public vegetation, here in by doing this it will force the deer to rely on natural vegetation sources, thus decreasing the population even further. Also to prevent deer/car collisions, the removal of vegetation from roadsides will get rid of any temptation the deer usually have for feeding along roadways. Designating “Deer Zones” where drivers should have to drive slower and there by making drivers pay more attention, will also keep the deer collision number in check.
With all of our solutions combined, we feel that the problem will cease and the deer population can regain control.
I believe that if we make the hunting season longer, and take out the bag limit for a few months we could make the deer population decrease by a fairly large amount and this should not cost a great amount of money if it is done the right way. I think that deer are over populated and should be killed off. As a farmer the deer population is a little excessive and they are eating the crops that we grow. They eat our crops and that makes the farmer make less money. With farmers making less money, they cannot plant as much the following year, then year after year they produce less crops until they produce nothing at all. Farmers not producing as much year after year we will result in less food. Then, farmers will sell their farms. In years to come, farming will cease to exist and then the world will be in danger of famine. The first reason overpopulation can be occurring is because of the state. Just about every year, hunting licenses’ prices go up to a higher cost. Some people feel that the expensive price is just too much to pay. Another reason people may think deer are starting to overpopulate is because some people buy land and then will not allow hunters to hunt and kill the deer. The landowners think the deer are pretty to look at; further more, allowing nobody to hunt. In all cities deer are becoming heavily populated because not too many people hunt them or have a place to hunt them in the cities. In mostly all cities, the only thing hunters can do is bow-hunt, and not a whole lot of people bow-hunt. And, in some cities, the city does not even allow people to hunt at all.
5. Lower cost of hunting licenses
6. Increase bag limit
7. Increase all hunting seasons
8. Allow gun hunting in cities for one day
9. Build tall electric fences around places you do not want deer