Deer Management in Populated Texas Areas
The deer population in built-up areas is increasing. Is hunting the answer to controlling the animals?
Suburbs are known for their large, attractively landscaped lawns, parks, and green spaces. These kinds of places are also attractive to deer. Parks and wooded areas provide cover and water, and the shrubs and flowers are tasty treats for hungry whitetail deer. With no predators, deer multiply freely. Automobile collisions with deer are common in the suburbs. A number of solutions to the problems created by suburban deer have been tried, including deer birth control and fencing, but these have had only limited success. Another solution is suburban hunting.
Problems Arise with Suburban Hunting
Although it may seem that the obvious solution to the problem of too many deer is to allow hunters to harvest some of them, there are problems to be overcome. The most difficult problem may be that of perception. Many suburbanites are unfamiliar with hunting. They may even be hostile to the very idea of recreational hunting. In that case, finding a deer hunter in a stand near their homes is likely to be uncomfortable for them. Given that deer rarely drop where they are shot, a deer that was shot from the property where the hunter had gained permission may die on the property of a person who refuses to allow the hunter to recover it. Suburban homeowners may also have concerns about the safety of their children and pets. Close communication between the hunter and everyone in the neighborhood is necessary to allay fears and maintain agreement on how and where hunting may take place.
Suburban Bow Hunting
Since bow hunting requires the game to be in rather close range, most hunters consider it the most suitable for suburban hunting. Surrounding property owners may also find this weapon more acceptable for use near their homes. Suburban deer are conditioned to ignore human activity, and are willing to stroll much closer to a hunter than are deer in more remote settings, so bowhunters would have good chances for successful hunts.
Deer Managers Consider Means of Deer Population Controls
Deer managers, whose job it is to maintain healthy deer herds, are faced with a quandary. Allowing more deer kills per hunter in wilderness areas will not address deer overpopulation in suburban areas. With no predators, suburban deer can overpopulate, resulting in poor health and proliferation of illnesses such as Lyme Disease, which poses a danger to the human population. Hunting in the suburbs would thin the herd, but area homeowners may not be able to accept it, and they certainly have every right to refuse access to their properties.
Clayton K. Nielson of Southern Illinois University stated in his address at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group, held February 22 through 24, 2009 in Roanoke, Virginia:
“Although deer managers increasingly will need to pursue non-traditional methods of deer management in developed areas due to continuing trends in development, attitudes of suburbanites and exurbanites, and deer ecology, I contend there still is hope for hunting in the hinterlands of our urban centers.”