Monday, November 23, 2009

Rural real-estate columnist says we need more deer hunters and dead does to control population

While most people will likely look forward to the upcoming holiday as a chance to see family and take a break from work, "Country Real Estate" columnist Curtis Seltzer hopes the vacation time will see more hunters helping to control a growing problem: deer overpopulation. "Unlimited hunting reduced America’s white-tail deer population to about 300,000 in the 1930s," Seltzer writes. "Today, the herd is estimated at about 30 million, and much of our hunting focuses on big bucks with big racks."

Deer cause an estimated $2 billion annual damage to forests, crops, landscape vegetation and vehicles, Seltzer reports. Suburbs have provided ample food supply for deer with very little threat of predators. "Deer do best on developed land, not old-growth forest," Seltzer writes "Backyards, golf courses, parks, power-line easements — it’s easy for them to make a living off modern American life."

To control the deer population, Seltzer says, hunters will need more incentive to kill does, and he proposes tax incentives for hunters who donate unwanted doe meat to programs to feed the needy. He acknowledges that hunting for population control, especially near suburbs, is not without risks (see this item), but writes, "The alternatives — habitat management, fences, bioengineering, repellents, etc. — are usually too costly, unwieldy or ineffective." The first Thanksgiving dinner was likely centered on venison, but this Thanksgiving Corky Seltzer and others are hoping for fewer deer. For his column via Landthink, click here)

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