The Potomac Highlands Watershed School
High School Environmental Forum
Final Consensus Position: Petersburg HS
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PETERSBURG DEER POPULATION MANAGEMENT POLICY
We, the hunters, farmers, foresters, and homeowners of Petersburg High School, have developed a deer population management policy. We have a three pronged approach to deer population control.
The first aspect of our population management would be to make changes to the hunting seasons. Firstly, we would allow a longer hunting season. Hunters would have a three buck limit per year (one for each season – bow, muzzleloader, and rifle). For every buck, a hunter would need to harvest three does before the next buck could be killed, with a four point or greater size limit on all bucks. A hunter would be allowed to harvest nine does per year with this system. Secondly, fees for the buck hunts would be increased. Thirdly, the Department of Natural Resources would have the leverage to increase the amount of does harvested in years when deer are exceptionally plentiful.
A corollary to the changes in the hunting season would be the introduction of the “Hunters Helping the Hungry” Program. With this program, hunters could volunteer to send extra venison to needy persons. Money collected from the increased buck hunt fees could be used to help fund the administration of this program. Depending on deer population in localized areas, hunters may be permitted to harvest extra does (beyond the yearly limit) as part of the “Helping the Hungry” Program.
The second aspect of our management program would be to help farmers and landowners deal with nuisance deer. As in the current West Virginia policy, farmers would be allowed to kill deer that are damaging gardens and crops, but restrictions for obtaining permits to deal with these nuisance deer would be eased. Farmers and homeowners would have more freedom to kill deer on their own properties if the deer were over running the properties.
The third aspect of our management program is the reintroduction of deer predators, mountain lions and wolves, into West Virginia. We recognize the controversial nature of this part of our program, but think that the limited release predators could be beneficial. This aspect of the deer management program would be closely monitored by the Department of Natural Resources or the Forest Service. The introduced predators would be electronically tagged so that their movements could be tracked. They would be released only in areas of low human population (in designated wilderness areas and the national and state forest regions, for example). We expect these predators to help reduce deer populations in these areas, so that deer from other overpopulated regions could then move into (or be moved into) these regions.
We considered several other methods of reducing and controlling the deer population, but did not add them to our main plan at this time. These ideas should be researched and considered as potential future management techniques:
Deer enclosure and/or relocation. We decided that deer relocation and/or deer enclosure would be cost prohibitive to adequately control the deer population over a wide spread area.
Birth control for deer. This technique requires research for the development of an effective birth control chemical for deer and a safe delivery method for the birth control chemical. This project would be expensive and require substantial funding, but it may be beneficial in the long run for the maintenance of a stable deer population.
Market hunting. We liked the idea of including a market hunt for deer population reduction purposes, but a market hunt would require a change in state laws so that deer meat could be sold legally. In addition, government controls would need to be in place for inspection of market venison to insure the health and safety of the consumers. The administration of the marketing would require funding, probably from the state government.
The following references were used in the development of our deer population management plan: