Wow. If CarolineTC would lay off the ad hominem
fallacies and the self-righteous, venomous diatribes perhaps we could actually have a rational discussion about deer populations. The subject of deer population management, particularly white-tails, is a complex, not simplistic, subject. It is covered constantly in papers published in professional wildlife management journals. There is no one single cause, and no one single solution, to the problem that some ( not all, I might add ) deer populations are too large. Causes for increased number of deer include the following:
- lack of natural top predators in many areas. Top predators would include species such as wolves, mountain lions, and grizzlies.
- increase in intensely cultivated agricultural lands in the past century. Deer are attracted to crops like corn, soy beans, and the like as an easy food source.
- the expansion of the suburbs. Deer are attracted to vegetable gardens, flowers, bushes, certain tree species, etc. found in suburban yards. Many places that are now suburbs were once rural deer habitat, but the deer do not leave. This is especially true in the heavily populated east coast.
- in many areas where deer population is considered high, there are private lands that are closed to hunting
- poorly thought-out deer hunting regulations/management that does not encourage the culling of enough females from the population. Many state wildlife agencies are now starting to realize that this is a factor and are adjusting their management strategies accordingly.
- a declining number of hunters because of today's highly urbanized/suburbanized society
As one can see, there are a myriad of things that could play a part in an increase in a given deer population. As such, to make a statement such as "hunting causes deer populations to increase" is actually quite irrational. Many ARs float out "deer contraception" as an alternative to hunting as a management tool. Deer contraception is not particularly viable as a solution in most cases. First is the poor cost-effectiveness of the operation, as it is extremely labor intensive. It is estimated that when both the labor and the cost of the drug itself are combined, it costs an average of $1000 to deliver one single dose of deer contraceptive. Second, is the fact that these drugs do not last a long time. One dose typically lasts one year, then the population has to be re-treated. Third, unless a particular deer population is isolated from other populations, it is difficult to treat enough does to achieve a net population decline, as new, untreated does can enter the population from other areas. Fourth, contraception does not produce an immediate decline in population, unlike hunting or other lethal control methods which produce immediate mortality in the population. It would take several years to notice a statistically significant decline in a contraception treated deer population if there is a lack of predators and/or it is not combined with a lethal form of population control. Fifth, is the possible ecological effects of using this, especially large-scale. We still do not fully understand the possible long-term implications for other wildlife by introducing these drugs into the food chain. And once the proverbial genie is let out of the proverbial bottle, it cannot be put back in. Deer contraception is simply a management tool available to biologists. It can be effective in certain situations, but not all, and probably not most. To push it as some kind of cure-all solution based on a knee-jerk, emotional dislike for hunting is reckless, irresponsible, and unwise.
I noticed the subject of Chronic Wasting Disease ( CWD ) was brought up in one of CarolineTC's rants. The air desperately needs to be cleared of the falsehoods and speculations in that post, as they are grossly irresponsible. These are the HARD FACTS about CWD:
- there has never been a confirmed case of a human contracting CWD
- the World Health Organization has determined that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD is transmissible to humans. However, as biologists do not yet completely understand all aspects of CWD, it is advised that animals killed in known CWD-infected areas be tested for the disease and not consumed if they test positive.
- the mean numbered of infected animals in the population is actually quite low. For example, in the combined areas of northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, where CWD is most prevalent, it is 5% for mule deer, 2% for white-tail deer, and >1% for elk.
You can learn more about the facts about CWD here: http://www.cwd-info.org/index.php