Blog Archives

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…

A Different Spin on “Green” Advertising

Here is a short blog about a project we did up in Philly for Urban Outfitters along with Bluewing Environmental and DIRT landscape designs.

Read more on the Patriot LWM Blog:

When it comes to thinking outside the box, fashion design company Urban Outfitters has always been ahead of the curve.

So it should come as no surprise that their vision for the BioHaven Floating Treatment Wetland was not that of a typical client. Urban Outfitters integrated BioHaven® Floating Islands into the design overhaul of their headquarters in Philadelphia, PA first and foremost to  improve water quality in the neighboring Delaware River and stay true to their environmental roots. As floating island material can be “fashioned” in any shape, size and buoyancy, the wheels at Urban Outfitters started to turn…

Anyone who spends more than 10 minutes on the various walkways outside of the different Urban Outfitters design facilities can attest to the fact that the complex lies directly beneath the flight path for the Philadelphia Airport. To capitalize on the full potential of the BioHaven Floating Treatment Wetlands, Urban Outfitters requested that they be constructed in the shape of the company’s stock letters “URBN”. Fully visible from the air, the letters were installed in June of 2010 by Patriot LWM and Bluewing Environmental Solutions providing significant nutrient removal capabilities, innovative aesthetics, and creative advertising within the banks of the Delaware River.

For more on this project visit http://patriotlwm.com/biohaven-floating-island-projects/

Too Much of a Good Thing? Not When it Comes to Water Quality

Another little blog I put together for the Patriot LWM Blog:

A little over a year ago, our fellow BioHaven Floating Treatment Wetlands professionals from Floating Islands Environmental Solutions began an experiment in water quality inside the city of Naples, Florida. The Louisiana crew made their way down and installed a series of Floating Treatment Wetlands in various nutrient loaded water bodies selected by the City. The following news report gives a small snapshot into the potential of this innovative technology. Although this video mainly highlights the habitat creation abilities of the islands, it’s hard to deny that something very positive is taking place in this water body. Enjoy!

New Study Shows Potential to Use Floating Treatment Wetlands to Mitigate Lake Eutrophication and Increase Fishery Production

Here is a blog I wrote for the Patriot LWM Blog:

With everyday that passes, the true benefit of Floating Treatment Wetlands technology becomes more and more apparent to us here at Patriot LWM. Besides its obvious visual benefits created by the islands ability to instantly create flourishing habitat above and below the water, the true potential of the islands can not be seen with the naked eye. The matrix design of recycled plastic material allow for an increased surface area on which nutrient processing biofilm-based microbes attach. From this floating base of operation, the microbes work to breakdown nutrients that pass by them in the water. Intuitively we can only assume that the more water the Floating Treatment Wetland matrix and the associated microbes come in contact with, the higher its nutrient processing potential. The following study by Floating Island International takes a unique look at this statement and some interesting ways to get water in need of treatment to the microbes in need of nutrients.

The Problem:

Wetlands have long been known as natures purifiers, but as the worldwide acreage of wetlands continues to fall coupled with increased human-caused nutrient loading, many water bodies around the world have experienced cases of hyper-eutrophication. Simply stated Eutrophication is a scientific term describing the overfertilization of lakes with nutrients and the changes that occur as a result. Negative environmental effects include anoxia, or loss of oxygen in the water with severe reductions in fish and other animal populations. In fresh water, partly as a result of normal seasonal stratification, nutrient loading can deplete oxygen levels within the livable temperature zone for cold‐water fish species.

The Case Study:

In Shepherd, Montana at the home of Floating Island International, a 30 foot deep, 6.5 acre lake sits within sight of the famed Yellowstone River. The water near the surface was too warm to support a trout fishery, while the cool water underneath lacked the dissolved oxygen (DO) to do the same. During late summer no location inside the lake could consistently provide the cool-water, high-DO environment needed by fish such as rainbow, brown and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. From a fishery and property management standpoint, this basically serves as a 6.5 acre puddle of water. Enter the Leviathan…

The Solution:

In April 2009, a 1250‐square‐foot Leviathan system, incorporating floating stream beds and grid‐ powered water circulation was installed in the lake. This system circulates up to 2000 gpm through the stream channels within the island. The basic concept takes water from all levels of the lake which would previouslynot come in contact with the wetlands and circulates them through the stream channels of Floating Treatment matrix where microbes can process the nutrients.

The method allows you to basically super-charge the nutrient processing capability of your Floating Treatment Wetland and turn a once stagnant waterbody into a highly productive member of your land management program.

The Result:

After 17 months of operation, water clarity had improved from a low of 14 inches of visibility to as much as 131 inches. Simultaneously, the water temperature gradient was reduced, creating a larger zone of “livable” water for fish. Two age classes of Yellowstone cutthroat trout were introduced 13 and 14 months into the test. Through the summer of 2010, a favorable temperature/dissolved oxygen strata ranging from the water surface down to a depth of at least 12 feet was maintained as potential cutthroat habitat. One‐year‐old and two‐year‐old black crappies were also introduced two months into the test, and naturally‐occurring northern yellow perch were present in the lake when it was filled. All three species have flourished.

Fish catch rates and growth rates are now being monitored at the lake. Initial data show that experienced fishermen can catch up to one perch per minute. Visual observations from diving and an underwater viewing station indicate that perch approaching or exceeding the Montana state record of 2 pounds 2 ounces now inhabit the lake.

The research lake is relatively unique in that it supports fish accustomed to cold water (Yellowstone cutthroat trout), temperate water (perch) and warm water (crappies). Montana officials have made two unsuccessful attempts at sustaining cutthroat populations in an adjacent stretch of the Yellowstone River, which is located a half‐mile away from the research lake.

Further additions to the square footage of the original design for 2010 have further increased the “livable area” for fish to a depth of more than 20 feet at certain times of the year. This further maximizes the useable production space for the lakes fishery habitat.
Hope for the Future:

As data continues to be collected and more projects initiated, the future is very bright for the use of Floating Treatment Wetlands to restore the health of Americas water bodies. Patriot LWM is currently working with Bluewing Environmental to solidify 2 Leviathan test projects in Maryland. Stay tuned for more exciting news.

For more details on the above mentioned study CLICK HERE.

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Cool Video and Blog Entry from The National Aquarium Features Patriot LWM installed Floating Island

Here is a entry from the Patriot LWM Blog on our work at the National Aquarium.

Back in August, Patriot LWM in partnership with Bluewing Environmental, The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and The National Aquarium installed a 250 square foot BioHaven Floating Island in the Baltimore Harbor. The goal of the project is to study the nutrient processing potential of the islands and how they may one day be used to restore the health of the water body and the Chesapeake Bay. Check out the Aquarium blog article here at WATERlog.

Also check out this cool underwater video they put together in the waters near the island.