The Potomac Highlands School of Water Resources 

High School Environmental Forum

Too Many Deer - The Problem

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The topic is the effects of deer overpopulation on our region, and what to do about it.  This is a moderated conversation, where CI reviews entries for relevance to the topic and then posts them to the website on a daily basis.   There will be, at least, three tracks for this conversation: 1) personal experience stories (not hunting); 2) discussion of the problem; 3) seeking solutions; and 4) deer and farming.   This forum began on Wednesday, February 16, 2005.  The comment form is on the main forum page

Moderator:  New Post 2/25/05  A number of students have noted that the deer population seems to be getting smaller over the last couple of years.  The following graph showing data on the buck harvest since 1995 would support that observation, as would my personal observations -- but it also indicates that the size of the deer harvest fell sharply in 1998 then climbed rapidly in the following several years.  If it is in fact getting smaller now, what could cause that change?  WVDNR has said that wildlife biologists had predicted an increase for 2004, but that larger than expected harvest declines may have been caused by the record antlerless deer harvest in 2002, the decline might be due to several years of poor acorn production, or bad weather in the first three days of the season may have kept people out of the woods (Moorefield Examiner, Dec 18, 2004).  The last several winters may also have reduced the number of fawns carried to term, or caused increased over-winter  mortality in the deer herd.  I know quite a few people, including myself, who saw a number of dead deer in the woods last spring.  Whatever the cause - is this a trend?  A cyclic variation?  Or something else?  WVDNR uses the buck harvest to estimate the total deer population; to learn more about how DNR does it, click  here.  Try using their formula to estimate the deer population per square mile in your county for the years in the graph at left. 


Name: Bill Moore, Environmental Science teacher, Hampshire High
Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2005   Time: 20:36

I have noticed how few sprouting small trees are in the understory of the forest at HHS. When we are trying to study the species variety its hard to find a young version of the different oak species to examine the leaves up close. the closest branches are 30 or 40 feet up. Herbaceous understory species are also few and far between. I'd love to teach students some of my favorite edible and medicinal plants but can hardly find any of interest in the woods now.


Name: Steve R.  County: Hampshire, WV  Resident.
Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 08:54

Thanks to Cacapon Institute for this forum. Do many Hampshire County residents think we have a problem with the deer population? I suspect most deer hunters under the age of 40 do not recall when our hardwood forests looked any different than they do today. The lack of understory allows us to see several hundred yards through most of our forest land. This is not a healthy forest. This lack of hardwood regeneration will greatly reduce wildlife populations that depend on hard mast. Our grandchildren will have a much different forest experience than we have now if this continues.


Name: Andrew F  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire Hgih School, WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 13:26

Deer around this area are not very big in size. That is making a lot of people that hunt for the deer to kill more to get the meat they need. If only we could come up with a solution to fix this problem we might have more deer around.


Name: Thomas Q  Grade: Grade_9to10  County: Hampshire  School: Capon Bridge High School, WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 13:30

The problem is that when the people are trying to save the deer they are also destroying the forest. They are destroying the forest because they eat all the vegetation on the forest floor. When trees fall down and the canopy is open to grow new vegetation the deer eat it. So this tends to leave the canopy open, and no trees will grow in that area. The deer also affect other animals by eating the vegetation on the ground. The animals are in competition with the deer. When the deer come by and clear the land there is hardly any food left for other animals so their population decreases. Since the deer population is high there are more car accidents in the United States.


Name: Jonathan B  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High School,  WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 13:33

I believe that the problem is that we as community's are trying to be to conservative, we are to worried about being fare. I understand the animal activist's views, but I don't know if they understand the reason for overpopulation. I believe such a problem will be bad for our community if not dealt with properly. I believe overpopulation of deer or anything is unhealthy for us, and my solution would be to extend the hunting season a month or two.


Name: Travis L  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High School, WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 13:37

I think that there are too many deer in our area but they are to small. I think that the only way fix this problem is to not have a buck season for at least 3 years. That would let some of these little bucks grow up and by killing more does than not as fawns would be born


Name: Stephanie D  Grade: Grade_11to12 County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005  Time: 13:44

I never really thought of deer as being a problem, until I listened to the veiws and comments in Mr. Moore's classroom. It was brought to my attention on how it can ruin a forest and it's inhabitants. One prime example is how deer take other wildlife's food supply. Then the diversity goes down. The same things go to plants. They consume a lot of plants and the diversity goes down. Deer also present a problem on other deer through overpopulation, again leading to less food supply. Deer present a problem for crop growers also. For example, people who grow apple orchards have a bad harvest on account of all the apples being eaten off their trees. Another major problem is sharing the highway with deer. This is a cause for a lot of accidents. Where I live I would consider it unusual not to see at least 2-4 dead deer laying along the road on the way to school each day.


Name: Suzy L.  Grade: Grade_9to10  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High ,0WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:16

I live beside a very large orchard. You always see deer everywhere everytime you drive down the road, sometimes almost hitting one. The owner ofcourse, has a wildlife damage permit, and drops deer left and right. I used to think it was very cruel and inhumane of him, until i really understood the problem. Deer damage is causing the loss of $100 million in agricultural crops anually, $750 million in forest regeneration, and $1 billion in vehicle accidents. To decrease this damage, the herd size must be reduced. But many people argue, who is to say how many deer there should be? If you asked an animal rights activist, they would say an unlimited amount, while other naturalists might say 18-20 per square mile. Regardless of oppinion, in order to restore our forests and crops, we must reduce the herd size. Lower population is needed to match available food as well as improve health of deer. How do we do this? We have been trying to accomplish this for years by regulating hunting, wildlife damage permits, fencing, tree shelters, wire cages, and repellents, but the overwhelming deer population is still a large problem in some areas, and we still have not found an answer.


Name: josh c  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: hampshire high school,  WV
Teacher: Mr.Moore  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:19

I dont think the deer tracking systems are good enough in our state because every year I see less deer and they say the population [is getting larger? Moderator]


Name: Josh Oates  Grade: Grade_9to10  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire HighWV
Teacher: Mr. Moore   Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:21

I think the problem is that the deer aren't being harvested the way they should. Like for example I think they should have regulated bow hunts in subdivisions. Because the deer are staying around and not able to be harvested. And the population is not being controlled to a acceptable number. Like if a subdivision allowed a two month deer hunt like November through the end of December. And harvested two does and one buck per hunter but the does be harvested first. It my not control the number but it would difently help the population over a five year period or annually .This would diifiently help the outbreaks of diseases and population levels.


Name: Kasey C.  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High School, WV
Teacher: Mr.Moore  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:22

Too many deer is definitely a problem! The deer inhabiting the region are taking over the forests, which we are so proud of. They continue to eat the lower of the forests, endangering the habitat. Without diversity of species the forests will be less productive. There will be more competition for dwindling food supply for smaller mammmals found in our deciduous forest, such as rabbits and squirrels. WE must find a smart solution to this growing problem. I believe that hired sharp shooters will be able to decrease the deer population to a more manageable amount. Of possible, we could even give the meat harvested by the sharp shooters to needy families in the region.


Name: Nathan  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High School,  WV
Teacher: Mr. Moore  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:46

How can I keep deer out of the garden?


Name: Matt  Grade: Grade_11to12  County: Hampshire  School: Hampshire High school, WV
Teacher: Mr.Moore  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005  Time: 14:52

I have a problem with deer in my back yard and they eat all the little shrubs before they have time to grow. How can i keep them from doing that.


Name: Charlie G.  Hampshire County Homeowner  Date: Friday, February 18, 2005 

They've had pens like that [proposed by Mr. Moore at Hampshire High School] in Patapsco State park not far from my house for the past couple years. Their deer problem isn't any where near as bad as around here. In Columbia in Howard County, a bastion of liberal tree huggers, when managed hunts were first proposed about 10 years ago, they were all up in arms. About 4 or 5 years ago the same people were either supporting managed hunts or at least tolerating them as the "deer problem" had become so prevalent and expensive, what with accidents and environmental damage.