Blog Archives

PRESENTATIONS FROM SUBURBAN DEER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP POSTED

The following is a repost from my Patriot LWM Blog:

The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office has posted all the presentations and information from last months “Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers” of which Patriot Land & Wildlife President Joe Brown was a guest speaker. The Forestry Resources Website has all the information you could need when it comes to making an educated decision regarding your suburban deer management issues.

CLICK HERE FOR PRESENTATIONS

Patriot LWM President to speak at Suburban Deer Management Workshop presented by University of Maryland Extension

From the Patriot LWM Blog:

On Tuesday, May 26th 2011 from 8:30am to 3:20pm, deer management professionals from around the state will be presenting to Maryland’s decision makers. The program titled “Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers”, will cover a wide range of topics and issues faced by Maryland’s local government officials, land managers, park officials, police, homeowner associations and more.

Suburban Deer Management 2011 Brochure 

Here is a press release on the program, sign up today:

REGISTER NOW! SUBURBAN DEER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP

Local government officials, land managers, park managers, police, homeowner associations, non- profit organizations, private property owners, business owners and other decision-makers are invited to attend the workshop, Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers, on May 26, 2011 at the Elks Club in Bowie, MD from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop is being offered by the University of Maryland Extension in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Deer contribute greatly to our quality of life; however, they have become overabundant in suburban and urban areas, creating major challenges to local decision-makers on how to deal with citizens and their differing views on the issue. On one hand, there are serious safety issues to deal with such as Lyme disease and deer-vehicle collisions. Deer also cause extensive damage to residential landscapes, crops, and natural forests. Some think that populations must be reduced through lethal options and others think that only non-lethal means should be used, such as fencing, repellents, and managing vegetation. Some want a combination of the two.

The workshop is specifically designed for local decision-makers and managers to provide an opportunity to learn from case studies and current research what methods have been used, their effectiveness, and more importantly, how to implement a community-based deer management program in their area. The atmosphere will provide a comfortable learning environment where you can ask hard questions and learn from real life applications. Rather than be reactive, what you learn at this workshop will allow you to work proactively in your locale and, hopefully, avoid the pitfalls. Case studies of successful programs are showcased and the most up-to-date reference materials provided.

More information about registering for the program is available at http://www.naturalresources.umd.edu or by contacting Pam Thomas at the University of Maryland Western Maryland Research & Education Center at 301-432-2767 ext 315. The registration cost is $25 per person which includes lunch and materials.

Agenda:

8:30 a.m. Registration: Coffee and Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. Welcome: Jonathan Kays
9:05 a.m. Overview of Deer Management in Maryland
Speaker: Brian Eyler, MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service• Population, hunting trends, responsibilities, CWD, upcoming issues
9:30 a.m. Impact of Deer Management Inaction on Natural Ecosystems
Speaker: Anne Hairston-Strang, MD DNR Forest Service
            • Ecosystem impact of deer and ability to rebound
10:00 a.m. Overview of Deer Impacts & Effectiveness of Lethal & Non-Lethal Management Options
Speakers: George Timko, MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service, Kevin Sullivan, USDA-APHIS, and Jonathan Kays
            • Trends in deer – vehicle collisions, lyme disease, agricultural & residential landscape damage
           • Fencing, repellents, vegetation management, population management
10:45 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. Best Practices for Implementing a Managed Hunt Program
Speaker: Phil Norman, Howard County Recreation and Parks Department
           • Details, issues, logistics, and what to expect based on experiences of Howard & Montgomery Counties.
11:30 a.m. Utilizing Organized Hunting Groups & Contractors
Speaker: Joe Brown – Patriot Land & Wildlife Management Services, Inc
• Services provided and available to farmers, Homeowner Associations, local governments, and others.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Barriers & Pitfalls of Community-Based Deer Management
Speakers: George Timko, Kevin Sullivan & Jonathan Kays
• Brief overview of liability concerns, dealing with the vocal minority, paralysis by analysis, gaining consensus, and other realities.
1:15 p.m. Learning by Example: Community-Based Deer Management Efforts That Work
• 20 years of Deer Management in Montgomery County (Rob Gibbs, Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission)
• Accokeek Community Deer Program (Holliday Wagner & Byron Williams, citizens in the community)
• Managing Large & Diverse Properties Owned by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) – (Jim Benton, WSSC)
• Developing a Cooperative Management Program using Quality Deer Management Principles (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Mgt. Assoc.)
2:50 p.m. Question & Answer Session with all speakers – facilitated discussion and questions
3:20 p.m. Evaluation & Adjourn

Directions to Bowie Elks Club
1506 Defense Hwy, Gambrills, MD 21054
Phone 301-261-3260: http://www.bpoe2309.org

• From the Capital Beltway (Rt.95), exit on to Rt. 50 east toward Annapolis.
• Continue east on Rt. 50 until you reach Rt. 3 north towards Crofton.
• Exit onto Rt. 3 north and continue until you reach Defense Highway (Rt.450) east toward Annapolis. Make a right turn onto Rt. 450 east and continue approximately 2 miles.
• Elks Lodge 2309 is on the left side.

Program Continues to Take Deer from “Nuisance to Nutrient”

A neat blog entry I threw together about the way our deer management programs help feed the hungry!

From the Patriot LWM Blog:

The reproductive potential of White-tailed deer is no secret to the majority of citizens today. Often a simple drive down an area roadway will show signs of their presence in the form of an unsightly carcass or an unlucky commuters bumper laying near the shoulder. You may have even shaken your head at the sight and thought to yourself, “What a waste!”. Well you weren’t alone.

In early 2004, as populations of White-tailed deer continued to climb (along with the associated crop damage) despite historically liberal harvest limits for local hunters, area wildlife managers were left scratching their heads. Why would the overall population of deer continue to climb despite increased hunting opportunities for local hunters? What was the limiting factor in the reduction effort and how do we correct it?

With the help of a landowner survey revealing the increasing environmental, health, safety and economic problems caused by the overpopulation of white-tailed deer, the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and other County departments asked this very same question. How do we reduce the number of deer without creating wanton waste and possibly fill another void?

In the end the answer was not so much the lack of will, but the need for a way.

The Problem:

Regardless of hunter harvest opportunities, the average household freezer holds packaged meat from up to 2 processed deer. Some hunters were able to find family and friends who could use the meat from other harvest deer, but often their freezers filled up quickly as well. The hunters desire to harvest more deer in support of a sustainable population was there, but the avenue to distribute that meat was not. Meanwhile, the freezers of local area food banks didn’t stay quite as full and the stomachs of less fortunate families faired about the same. Enter the DED, area farmers and a non-profit by the name of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

The Solution:

The DED Agricultural Services Division along with FHFH and area farmers worked with various agencies within Montgomery County as part of this County-wide deer management effort to find a solution. The solution? A County-funded deer donation program to help connect the increased harvest from hunters with the areas shelters and food banks.

The Deer Donation Program encouraged farmers and hunters to harvest more deer in a responsible manner by providing local, minimum- hassle deer collection sites, of which there are two in Montgomery County. Hunters would drop off their harvested deer at these refrigerated trailer collection sites which would in-turn be transported to a certified meat processor. Once processed, the meat is then donated to the Capital Area Food Bank which distributes the meat to food banks and shelters across the Washington Metro area.

Results

The program is currently administered in partnership with Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services that coordinates the collection, processing, and donation of venison to food banks in the local area. From it’s humble beginnings of 39 donated deer in the 2004-2005 season, the 2010-2011 season proved to be the best yet with 401 deer being donated. These 401 deer equate to over 16,000 pounds of meat donated to the areas less fortunate.

The Deer Donation Program has invested $140,000 over 7 years. The value of the Program is calculated to be upwards of $255,000. This is based on the value of the meat collected (49,080 lbs at $2/lb) and the value of the crops not consumed from agricultural fields (1,227 deer harvested, 2,000 lbs of grain saved for each deer harvested (2,454,000 lbs.), value of grain estimated at $3.671/bushel). This does not include the reduction in vehicular damage caused by deer vs. vehicle collisions or many of the other negative economic impacts resulting from an overpopulation of deer.

Even despite the apparent economic success of the program, the true value to those families in need is something that is hard to put a price on.

The program has spawned the creation of several other similar donation programs throughout Maryland over the past few years. Hopefully with renewed support from local officials, this program can continue to  fill a need on multiple fronts.

Read a complete summary of the 2010-2011 results here:

Check out a past newspaper article about the program here:

Chronic Wasting Disease Makes its First Appearance in Maryland

Another blog I drafted up on the Patriot LWM blog:

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that a White-tailed Deer harvested in Maryland has tested positive in laboratory testing for Chronic Wasting Disease. A hunter in Allegany County reported taking the deer on November 27, 2010 in Green Ridge State Forest. Maryland is now one of 20 other states and Canadian provinces with CWD documented in deer, elk or moose.

Many details of the disease are unknown, but below our some links and a great video from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on CWD.

Chronic Wasting Disease Found In Maryland – MD QDMA Statement

Maryland DNR Wildlife and Heritage Office CWD Info Page

Maryland DNR 2011 CWD Response Plan

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance Website

OE Podcast about CWD with MD-QDMA President E.W. Grimes

Measuring Success in Deer Management: A Numbers Game

It’s always fun to run the numbers on a program you helped design and seeing it actually work! Here is an article about our 2010 deer management efforts I wrote for the Patriot LWM Blog.

On the last day of January, as another Maryland hunting season came to a close, being a passionate wildlife manager I found myself anxiously awaiting the final test of Patriot LWM management strategies. Thorough analysis of hunter harvest records and observation logs is what drives our measure of success or failure, and what guides our management objectives for the following year. Although hunters under Patriot management must log harvests into our online database within 24 hours, the laundry list of other tasks to accomplish during the season does not afford us the opportunity to really look deeply into the numbers.   

Observations logs completed by hunters after each hunt include information like:

  • Location Hunted
  • Weather Conditions
  • Number and Sex of Deer Seen (Does, Bucks, Yearlings, Unknowns)
  • Predators Seen
  • Other comments
Harvest data collected by hunters includes information like:
  • Sex of the animal (Doe, Buck, Button Buck)
  • Approximate Age (Utilizing Tooth Wear and Replacement)
  • Approximate Weight
  • Presence and number of any fetus’(Generally appear later in the season)
  • Presence of Milk (Does)  
  • Antler Measurements (Bucks)

Each aspect of the biological data collected could be a blog entry in and of itself (hint: each may very well be in the future) used to discuss the importance of the measurement and what it is telling the wildlife manager. For the purpose of this blog entry, I only wish to present the case study of the Patriot Land and Wildlife 2010-2011 management season and allow readers to begin to see how the data collection relates to measures of a management program.  

Patriot LWM Hunter Management

Patriot LWM organizes, qualifies and provides oversight for a volunteer hunting group known as the Patriot Whitetail Removal Team (PWRT) for use with large or small scale management efforts on properties that demand both discretion and production.

Patriot LWM also provides hunter management for our recreational leasing and property management clients to insure their wildlife management programs are carried out in conjunction with the recreational enjoyment of the land.

Patriot utilizes the principles of Quality Deer Management to educate it’s hunters in deer biology and administer harvest quotas and techniques to be carried out by both sets of hunters.   

The Numbers

Brief Analysis and Discussion

The total management area for Patriot LWM was 5000 acres. PWRT and Lease Members harvested a total of 345 deer on that acreage.

       PWRT

The PWRT accounted for 220 of those 345 deer. 96% of the total harvest were does (females), 3% were button bucks (.5 year old males) and less than 1% of the total harvest were Bucks. Of the 7 button bucks killed, many were the result of late season body size increases which made them mistakenly targeted for harvest as does. Of the 2 bucks that were harvested, one was a 3.5 year old buck with only ¼” small velvet nubs where antlers should have grown, again causing this buck to be targeted as a doe. The other was a 4.5 year old mature buck with an antler score of 149 total inches, 7th largest crossbow harvest in Maryland ever, obviously meeting our ideal harvest standards.

PWRT members averaged 1 deer harvest for every 2.5 hours spent in the treestand which is a testimate to both their hunting ability as well as their maximization of the effort vs. result equation (the manner in which effort is applied has a direct correlation to the result realized). Most female deer possess reproductive potential by 1.5 years of age, with older deer accounting for the highest reproductive potential,  often bearing twins and in some cases triplets.

Therefore the targeting of this upper age structure in a population will further expand on this effort vs. result scenario. Harvesting 3 deer of lower reproductive potential is not as effective as harvesting 3 deer with a high reproductive potential, although the exact same amount of effort is expended in both cases. 62% of the 220 deer harvested by PWRT were 2.5 years old or older, 23 % were 1.5 years old and only 15% of the total harvest were less than 1.5 years of age.       

According to the Maryland Annual Deer Report, during the 2009-2010 season, 66% of the total state hunter harvest were antlerless (deer without antlers) and 34% were antlered bucks. When you factor in the total number of button bucks (male antlerless) that were recorded during this time, the actual female deer harvest is 52%, with males making up the other 48%. These numbers are a far cry from the above 96% needed to realize a population reduction as is recommended by many State wildlife managers.   

     Leasing Members

Although not quite as precise, a similar situation unfolded on recreational leases under Patriot LWM oversight. Lease members accounted for 125 total deer harvested, 89% were does, 8% bucks and 3% were button bucks. Of the 10 bucks killed, 4 were harvested due to the fact they had been severely wounded on adjacent properties and needed to be put down out of proper ethics. 3 bucks were harvested by youth hunters (16 years or under) and 3 were harvested as meeting the mature buck requirements.

       Combined Analysis   

Measuring the reproductive potential of a population is an inexact science; many factors weigh into the debate including herd health, climate, weather conditions, predators etc. For demonstration purposes we will only make a few assumptions so that readers can better visualize how specific harvest requirements weigh in to the effort vs. result we talked about. If we assume that based on our age structure, some deer would have had triplets, some twins, others 1 or none at all, the following are an example as if the reproductive aged does would have had twins. The combined harvest of these 345 deer, plus their reproductive potential which was not realized accounts for up to 989 deer that will not be there in the spring of 2011 to feast on agricultural crops, landscapes or ground nesting bird habitat. An adult deer consumes on average 1.5 tons of forage a year, so 345 deer harvested immediately results in 517.5 tons saved and up to 1483.5 tons saved for 2011.

In later blog entries we will take a look at specific results as they relate to agricultural yield data and economic relationships to effective deer management, stay tuned!

You Want to Plant What?? Benefits of Diversionary Food Plots in Agriculture

Here is a blog I put together on a concept I like to call Diversionary Food Plots!

From the Patriot LWM Blog:

When the idea of planting food plots for white-tailed deer rolls across your tongue in front of concerned community members or agricultural professionals fed up with deer damage, the response is often the same. “You want to plant what??? The last thing we need around here is more deer, and feeding them will surely do just that.”

This statement is not far from the truth but the reasoning behind why it’s a good management decision may surprise you. 

The Origin of a Concept:

When Patriot LWM first began management efforts on a 250 acre tract with 132 acres of crop production agriculture and the remainder in timber and other cover types, the deer damage issue was at a breaking point. Hunter harvest practices were the first issue to get a facelift on the property including the increase in the reduction of adult female deer (does) and implementation of other techniques in line with the principles of “Quality Deer Management”. Initial population analysis identified the need for an extremely high number of female deer to be removed from the property, so much so that alternative harvest techniques needed to be considered.

 Supplemental Food Plots:

A well rounded wildlife management program incorporates habitat and forage management into its population control measures. So as a wildlife manager I am somewhat partial to the idea of supplemental food plots as a way to create a year round nutritional program for the overall health of my white-tailed populations. Food plots of varying species (such as clover, chicory, cow peas, etc.) with varying maturation times can be installed to supplement existing food sources (row crops, acorns, etc.). They can also fill gaps in the deer’s diet after other food sources are exhausted, such as after crops are harvested or acorns are depleted. Depending on their intended use and location, it is very simple for supplemental food plots to double as a diversionary food plot as well.

 Diversionary Food Plots:

My definition of a diversionary food plot is simply a plot installed for the purpose of diverting a deer’s feeding attention off of one source and onto another, such as off of row crops and into a clover mixture. Once again, your species selection along with its location will be the main determinate of the success of that diversion. Planting something deer have no intention of eating until late December will be of no comfort as the corn and soybeans get devoured in late summer.

Patriot LWM installed a mixture of clovers and chicory based on their perennial nature requiring minimum maintenance and also their high tolerance to deer pressure.   

For the purposes of our project, Patriot LWM  worked with the farmer and located a mutually beneficial site on the property. 15-30 feet of field edge bordering existing tree lines were donated to the “diversionary food plot fund”, another fact which raises eyebrows in an agricultural community hesitant to give up tillable acreage to the wildlife battle.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of this technique.           

Running the numbers:

Farmer:

  • Low yield in these sacrificed rows already due to deer damage on edges and shading under the “drip line” of trees
  • Reduced expenses on unused acreage
    • Seed
    • Fertilizer
    • Lime
    • Herbicide application
    • Fuel for equipment
    • Wear and tear on equipment striking trees
  • Hunters gladly supplement the cost of food plot installation for own benefit
  • Increased yield in the remaining acreage
  • Increases recreational lease value of the property

 Hunter:

  • Supplemental food source for improved health of deer population
  • Increased harvest opportunities
    • Creates harvest location along edges when normal standing crops would hinder harvest
    • Deer can be concentrated to particular areas for increased harvest
    • Brings deer to the “staging areas” near fields earlier allowing for more harvest opportunities before light expires
    • Keeps local deer populations on the property long after crops are harvested allowing hunters chances to increase harvest throughout the course of the regulated hunting season
    • Attracts deer from neighboring properties which may not have effective management programs to allow their harvest during daylight hours instead of them entering onto the property to feed outside huntable hours.
    • Provides space for hunter access to remove harvested deer while crops are up

In later blog entries we will take a closer look into the specific results of this project but initial findings are very positive. Diversionary food plots coupled with educated hunters practicing the principles of “Quality Deer Management” should be an option worth exploring for many landowners and farmers trying to win the war on deer damage. Stay tuned!

The Thankless World of Community-Based Deer Management, A Hornets Nest for Certain

Here is a blog on Community Based Deer Management I wrote for the Patriot LWM Blog:

Deer vs. human conflicts are increasing nationwide as a result of their prolific reproductive potential, a decrease in natural predators and an increase in perfectly designed deer edge habitat created by suburban development.

The problem with these issues is this:

  • A white-tailed deer’s reproductive potential doesn’t show any signs of slowing, although science is working on it
  • I don’t see significant numbers of wolves and other effective predators making a stand in suburban areas without quickly becoming the new human conflict
  • Although slowed by the recent economic climate, development will continue to occur in some form or another across the country, and even if it was to cease completely, the current community issues would still exist

These 3 problems usually first present themselves in the suburban fringe adjacent to agriculture or large green space. The conflict has an increased potential to occur were large numbers of humans interact in that fringe, better known as suburban communities.

A community-based comprehensive deer management plan is a complicated undertaking which should not be taken lightly. There are many deer management options available to a community ranging from fencing, scare devices, repellants and alternative horticultural plantings to multiple different options of population reduction techniques. Truly effective results are only achieved if done on a community wide scale through the proper procedures involving all stakeholders in the process. Community meetings, surveys, presentations from wildlife professional and more are all part of an effective path towards addressing the deer vs. human conflict. Even with the most diligent planning, be prepared for the simple fact that “You can not please everyone”. Managing the deer vs. human conflict is about locating that happy median between the two.

Read the linked story about a Patriot LWM managed project as it appeared in the Frederick News Post. (*Disclaimer* all numbers, pricing and figures in the article were inaccurate and/or used out of context by the author). This community did everything within their power to exercise due diligence in the process, and were ready to stand their ground because of it. Be prepared for that moment when one community members private agenda meets a reporter looking for a story. Welcome to the world of “Wildlife Management” . More to follow…