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Aggressive Deer Dissuasion: Effective Solutions

Population dynamics of deer and consequences of hunting

Deer authority, Rory Putnam explains in the Natural History of Deer, that deer, like other animals, can regulate their number even in the absence of predators. Increases and decreases in the density of deer in a given area trigger biological and behavioral changes that regulate deer numbers. For example, if a large number of deer are removed by culling or hunting, the remaining animals reveal compensatory rebound. Younger than normal deer breed, mature does give birth to a larger than normal number of fawns, and with less density a population vacuum is created into which other deer will move. The end result is that in an area where deer are hunted or culled, deer reproduction increases and mortality decreases.

These biological and behavioral changes are reversed in conditions of high deer density. Fewer than normal fawns breed, mature does may not come into estrus every year as they do under less dense conditions, and therefore do not reproduce every year. Those does who do breed will have single births rather than the usual twins or even triplets. In areas of high deer population density, competition increases and the mortality rate of the young increases. Concurrently, fertility decreases and deer leave the area in search of better conditions. This is how stable deer herds exist in a number of parks, wildlife preserves and large tracts of private property where there is no hunting.

Understanding the population dynamic of the white tail deer reveals it is not necessary to cull deer to keep their numbers from constantly increasing and why it is mistaken to believe that the lack of predators will allow the herd to increase to destructive numbers.

The increase in deer population is a direct result of state game management practices that have routinely encouraged the killing of large number of bucks, while leaving disproportionately more does, further exacerbating compensatory rebound. These unnatural conditions push the reproductive capacity of the deer herd to its maximum, which is in keeping with the apparent goals of state wildlife management agencies: to provide living targets for hunters. [photo: hunter kill]

Go on to: Solutions for isolated deer populations

Wildlife Watch, Inc.
(845) 256-1400
wildwatch@verizon.net
www.wildwatch.org  

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