Comments on: County Expands Natural Areas Preservation it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Floyd John Floyd Wed, 12 Mar 2014 21:52:05 +0000 Glad to know that issues under the heading of “Natural Areas Preservation” are ever-green.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:24:33 +0000 Re: [8]

This is one of those evergreen topics. From the Dec. 1, 2008 city council caucus:

Derezinski raised the issue of deer and the possible need to cull the herd. Higgins expressed some skepticism that they were actually a problem, asking if anyone had heard of someone hitting a deer in the city. She said she thought people basically enjoyed looking at them. She said she was not in favor of killing them. Briere said she didn’t want to kill them, either. Derezinski said he wasn’t necessarily in favor of killing them, but thought there were other options like tranquilizing them and relocating them.

By: Ben Connor Barrie Ben Connor Barrie Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:34:17 +0000 @6: It’s complicated, but here goes. Caveat: new laws go into effect for the 2014 season. I’m not up to date on any potential changes.

Tl;dr: Most deer hunters prefer bucks but the degree to which they value them over does varys. Regardless most deer hunters still want to hunt does. The licensing structure in Michigan limits the ability for hunters to effectively control deer populations to some degree. There are likely a good deal of bow hunters in the county who would want to help control deer population in county parks if that were a possibility.

I think deer management in Michigan is complicated by the fact that deer populations in the north of the state and populations in the south of the state face very different conditions, and thus exhibit different growth rates. At the risk of overgeneralization, deer in Northern Michigan face more predators, harsher winters and fewer crops with which to supplement their nutrition. Deer in the south face fewer predators, more protected areas, less harsh winters, and can supplement their nutrition with the bounty of modern agriculture.

The state’s management strategy has to both ensure the deer population in the north doesn’t dip too low, and attempt to limit the overabundance of deer in the south.

A bit about population biology: when it comes to predicting population growth it is generally safe to assume “the world is awash in sperm.” Now, I can’t find a source for the quote, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it up. What it’s trying to say is that, except for a few special situations, if you are concerned with population growth, you can ignore males. This is the case with deer. Sperm is inexpensive for a buck to produce; carrying a fawn to term takes a lot of energy for a doe. Thus, if we are interested in increasing or decreasing population growth, it does us little good to focus on the bucks.

The most basic deer hunting license (AKA Deer Tag) is a standard firearm license. It allows a hunter to take a single antlered deer with a firearm between November 15th and November 30th. This makes sense for the north. It allows folks to hunt and makes sure hunting will not have a big impact on the deer population there. For the south, it means if you hunt with the most basic deer hunting license, the only way you will have an impact on the deer population is if you hit a doe with your car on your way to deer camp.

The next level of deer license is an archery license. This allows a hunter to take an antlerless or antlered deer between October 1 and January 1. So a hunter hunting with this license has the potential to impact deer populations by removing does.

Now, without going too far into this, there are also a certain number of antlerless deer licenses. These allow hunters to take antlerless deer during the early antlerless season in September, the standard bow and firearm season, and the late antlerless season. The number of antlerless tags is determined for each Deer Management Unit based on population size. For example, in 2013 Cheboygan County had 400 private land and 700 public land antlerless tags available. Washtenaw Co. on the other hand had 1500 private land and 15000 public land tags available. Some UP DMUs had no antlerless tags in 2013.

These antlerless tags offer an opportunity for hunting driven population regulation. Additionally, when farmers receive nuisance permits to deal with deer damage to crops, the tags they get only allow them to take antlerless deer.

So there is some opportunity for population regulation via antlerless hunting. Unfortunately a hunter has to go beyond buying the most basic hunting license to do so.

As for hunters and their preferences for bucks versus does. That is tricky. Traditionally, hunters sought bucks. Indeed, I don’t know any hunter who would go for a doe over a 10 point buck if both were in the same field and offered equally good shots. That said, a lot of the hunters I know actively go for does. They are more abundant and the meat tastes better. Also an increasing number of deer hunters are becoming involved in Quality Deer Management, or QDM. Proponents of QDM eschew hunting young bucks in favor of larger does. This strategy aims to promote healthy (often lower) population levels and lets the young bucks grow into large trophy bucks.

So the preference of deer hunters in regards to bucks versus does are complex, but I feel like there is a shift happening right now and more folks are starting to favor hunting does, especially in areas where overpopulation is an issue. However effective hunting based population control in southern Michigan is somewhat hampered by the basic licensing structure which treats the entire state as a single region. Some states have tried programs along the lines of “bag a doe, earn a buck” whereby deer hunters in areas with an overabundance of deer must first take a doe in order to earn their buck tags, but I am unsure of the efficacy. If Washtenaw County were to allow local bow hunters an opportunity to hunt does in areas where there is an overpopulation issue, I am sure there would be residents interested in participating.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:28:46 +0000 (6) A little out of my experience but there was an article somewhere recently that discussed the issue with reference to Ann Arbor Township. There has been a lot of pressure there on crops. Farmers would like to see deer controlled, hunters want more deer.

I think that the DNR used to prohibit hunting of antlerless deer altogether or restricted it. The purpose was to increase the population generally. That was then loosened, but a hunter-led initiative has in recent years sought to restrict taking of any but heavily-antlered bucks in order to increase the number of those with trophy-worthy antlers. Here is a discussion: [link] Note that the only people being polled on the policy are hunters.

By: Eric Boyd Eric Boyd Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:52:03 +0000 @5: Can you clarify the interests? I presume that hunters would prefer to hunt deer with antlers (mature males) as they are more impressive. Is there a preferred target (males, females, young, old) that biologists would prefer to be hunted to better manage the total population?

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:02:18 +0000 The Michigan DNR has not yet set quotas for the year on deer hunting. Here is their page with much information about hunting in Michigan. [link]

Note the “antlerless deer” permit digest. These permits are issued for hunting on private land and public land. They are limited within Deer Management Units. The digest on this page is for last year. Regulations are apparently finalized in July.

There is a tension between hunters who want to ensure an easy hunt (and therefore restrict any other taking of deer) and the rest of us who would like to see the deer population managed more effectively. The antlerless deer permits are a major focus of this discussion.

By: Ben Connor Barrie Ben Connor Barrie Mon, 10 Mar 2014 21:29:25 +0000 I know that the Nature Conservancy allows for a limited amount of highly regulated bow hunting for deer on their properties in Michigan. I know some folks find hunting distasteful, but it does seem like a potentially effective way to reduce deer density and deer/human conflicts.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 10 Mar 2014 15:58:32 +0000 We have had the occasional coyote, but I don’t think they can do any more than fauns.

WEMU had an excellent feature on this issue in December [link]

“Natural resource chili” (made with venison) Has some good links, too.

BTW, Food Gatherers has long accepted donations of venison from hunters. Some communities across the country have initiated bow-hunt programs from which the deer killed are donated to hunger initiatives. (Note that I avoid the euphemism “harvested”.)

By: John Floyd John Floyd Mon, 10 Mar 2014 15:23:04 +0000 Non-hunting methods of culling the deer herd could include re-introduction of panthers and wolves. Now THAT would be quite a scene to have in one’s back yard.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sat, 08 Mar 2014 21:40:45 +0000 I’m so glad that WCPARC is turning some attention to the deer infestation. Ms. Leary has written very effectively elsewhere about this problem. As a botanist, I am concerned about the loss of native plant species. As a gardener and homeowner, I resent the intrusion of deer into my city lot, where they have curtailed my ability to grow some vegetables. They have denuded my yew hedges this winter.

As a biologist, I know that deer have a reproductive strategy that is designed to accept heavy predation. They will simply reproduce far beyond the carrying capacity of the land. The history of the Kaibab Plateau (promulgated by Aldo Leopold) is the classic example; it was later questioned but has now been validated by recent empirical studies [link]. The simple version is that deer at that location were protected from hunting, while their predators were being hunted to extreme scarcity. This caused a deer “irruption”, which meant so much pressure on the vegetation that it led to heavy deer mortality.

I’ve also read that some of our local farming operations are being affected by deer. I hope that our officials at all levels will attempt to find a solution. Frankly, I can no longer appreciate the beauty that many still see in these graceful creatures. They look like giant rats to me.

As an aside, I think that Ann Arbor’s fence ordinance may need to be re-examined in light of this problem. They jump over five-foot fences as you and I would step over a curb.