Deer Management Plans

White-tailed deer are probably the best known and most  widespread large mammal in North America. Their adaptability, acute senses, and other physical attributes allow them to flourish in metropolitan suburbs as well as in the wilderness. Locally overabundant deer populations are becoming more prevalent, especially where they are not actively managed. The primary reasons for a lack of deer management in suburban communities include:

    (1) real or perceived safety concerns,
    (2) conflicting social attitudes and perceptions about wildlife,
    (3) hunting and firearm-discharge restrictions, and
    (4) liability or public relations concerns.

Biologists have conducted extensive research on deer and generally can recommend management practices to manipulate rural deer populations. The success of past management efforts, focused primarily on providing recreational hunting opportunity, is reflected in the current abundance of white-tailed deer.

Without management intervention, small deer populations can increase rapidly and may lead to problems that can be difficult to control. Expanding urban sprawl and suburban environments have created excellent deer habitat with an abundance of food and protection from hunters and nonhuman predators.

Homeowners may consider it a nuisance when deer consume garden and landscape plantings, but, more importantly, an overabundance of deer may cause significant economic losses associated with decreased crops, vehicle collisions, or Lyme disease.

Deer also affect forest ecology by feeding on preferred plants and altering the biodiversity in parks and natural woodlands. Human safety can be compromised because increases in deer-vehicle collisions are positively correlated with greater deer abundance.

Read the full report: Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments: A Technical Guide


What Do We Do About the Deer?, Local In Ann Arbor

This page has a record of our posts and some resources on the issue.

CPR for Urban Deer Management Objectives:Clarity, Practicality, and Relevance, BRENT A. RUDOLPH, DWAYNE R. ETTER, SARA M. SCHAEFER, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2011

Establishing practical expectations requires considering the biological complexities of deer management regarding the potential of 1) density-dependent reproductive responses, 2) time lags between population response to management and changes in condition indices and vegetation response, and 3) nonlinear relationships between deer densities and several key fundamental objectives.

An Integrated Approach for Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments: The Cornell University Study, Cornell University, 2014, Jason R. Boulanger, Paul D. Curtis and Bernd Blossey

Based on our experiences, we discontinued use of surgical sterilization and EAB hunting on Cornell lands in 2014. On core campus, we will continue use of deer damage permits given a new statewide law that relaxes archery discharge limits to 150 feet. On adjacent lands, we will continue use of a controlled, public hunting program without EAB restrictions.

We also describe our experiences implementing and expanding a suburban bowhunting program in the VOL. Although hunters safely harvested several hundred deer over a period of seven years, browsing of red oak sentinel seedlings indicates that ecological damage still occurs on these lands. More aggressive deer removal will be needed to reach management goals of reduced plant damage.

Finally, we describe current deer management options and present recommendations for agencies, communities, landowners, and policy-makers to better manage deer impacts. Moreover, we review fertility control, and argue that attempting to manage a suburban deer herd using this method alone will likely not be successful in areas with free-ranging deer.

View Deer Management Forum, Cornell University, Nov 13, 2013. This was public Deer Management Panel Discussion sponsored by Cornell Plantations and the Atkinson Center, about coordinated deer management within Tompkins County.

This forum, with a panel of experts, deals with environmental impact or deer and forest regeneration, impacts on vegetation, insects and birds, Lyme Disease (exponential growth), deer-vehicle accidents and how some cities/villages/campus are dealing with it.

Panel included Award-winning journalist, Jim Sterba, Cornell Faculty Fellows Bernd Blossey and Paul Curtis, mayors of Lansing and Cayuga Heights and Jeremy Hurst, NY DEC

“If nothing is done about the deer population, in a hundred years, there will be no forests.”
“Just don’t tell us as a community that we have to respect the individual lives of deer over those of other life that could live in our communities.”

Ungulate Management in National Parks of the United States and Canada, Wildlife Society, Dec 2012Concern about ungulate impacts on woody vegetation and cascading effects on other flora and fauna has caused much deliberation over how active management is conducted. Management alternatives typically considered during park
planning include no action, animal removal, fertility control, redistribution, and predator reintroduction. Problems such as human-conditioned animals, incomplete ecosystems, reductions in natural processes like wildfire, and loss of predators have implications that preclude a system-wide no-action approach to ungulate management in national parks.

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