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Wisconsin DNR Statistics 2005
Number of White-tail Deer Killed
Bow - 78,450
Gun - 387,000

Deer Hunting Season Dates
Bow - Sept to Dec (except for gun season dates)
Gun - Nov 17 - 25

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In Defense of Animals
Essay on Deer Overpopulation

In recent years, deer populations have increased to numbers unsupportable by wildlife habitat alone. Many researchers believe that this increase results from continued human incursion into deer habitat, and the mismanagement of deer populations by forest and wildlife authorities who see hunting as the primary means of population control.

Present Wildlife Management Practices Wildlife and land management agencies purport to effectively limit deer populations to numbers sustainable by their natural habitat. In reality, the policies of such agencies exacerbate deer overpopulation, serving only to provide a population large enough to suit sport hunters. The overpopulation of deer stems not only from the specific mismanagement of deer populations, but from the mismanagement of our forestlands and natural areas.

Sport Hunting
Currently, there are approximately eight does for every buck in the wild. Laws restrict the number of does that hunters may kill. Deer do not have monogamous mating relationships, and bucks will often mate with more than one female. As a result, the ratio of does to bucks sets the stage for a population explosion.

Allowing hunters to kill more does, however, does not resolve population problems.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the open hunting of does left fawns without mothers, and removed too many females from the breeding population. Sport hunting decimated deer populations in many states. As a result, states passed laws restricting the hunting of does. These policies have contributed to the overpopulation of deer.

Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level.
Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate.

Left alone by humans, the ratio of does to bucks would be approximately equal. In Defense of Animals believes that sport hunting is not only an ineffective wildlife management tool, but a cruel and unnecessary practice. Sport hunting should be banned, allowing deer populations to regulate themselves naturally.

Banning sport hunting, however, is only one of the measures needed to control deer population. We also need to change the land management policies that create large deer populations, and to limit deer access to vegetation in human habitations.

Land Mismanagement
Many national, private, and state owned lands are open to logging. The natural fires that used to renew forests are no longer allowed to burn with regularity. Thus, logging companies and many land management agencies argue that logging is a means of maintaining a forest's health, allowing saplings and ground cover access to sun. In reality, logging normally takes the form of clear cutting. Companies demolish large stands of trees, rather than selectively taking trees from different stands of timber. This practice ill effects animals dependent on trees for food and cover. It also creates fields of additional "browse" vegetation for deer, causing a surge in deer population attributable to the introduction of this food source. In turn, governments argue that hunting should be used to control the resulting population increase.

Human Incursions Into Deer Habitat
Deer enjoy eating the vegetation offered by homes in suburban and urban developments, and munching on farm crops. These developments, built in formerly forested and fielded areas, provide ideal edge and winter feeding grounds for deer. Humans can take measures to limit the access deer have to such food sources. Reducing deer access to vegetation in residential developments will force deer to be more reliant on wild vegetation. When deer must rely on available wild lands for their only food source, a corresponding drop in deer population should take place.

In addition, preventing deer from seeing residential developments as a food source should reduce the contact and conflicts between humans and deer.

By changing hunting, land management policies, and human development practices, we can better control deer populations. Some or all of the following measures should be employed.

Ban sport hunting.
Reintroduce natural predators, such as wolves and mountain lions, where possible. Maintain existing populations of natural predators.

Ban clear-cut logging.
Allow fires to burn naturally in wildlife areas. Limit new human habitations in wildlife areas, decreasing the risk of property damage in the event of a fire, and making controlled burns a more acceptable wildlife management tool.

Prevent humans in residential areas, state parks, and federal parks from feeding deer.
Deer should be reliant on their own habitat for food.

Erect high fencing around crops and plants.
Electric and sturdy fencing increase the effectiveness of this deterrent. Fences should be at least eight feet high and buried one foot deep. Openings in the fence should be small. Contact a university agricultural extension office or landscape business before purchasing and installing your fencing.

Steps can also be taken to reduce conflicts with deer.
Automobile Safety:
Drive slowly and cautiously, scanning the road and roadside at sunrise, sunset, and in the first few hours after the sun has set. Remove vegetation from roadsides to reduce the attractiveness of roadside areas to deer.

Keeping Your Yard Safe
Prevent deer from eating your precious yard plants and trees by installing fencing, as suggested above. Individual trees can be protected with mesh and netting. Contact a nursery to find out what types of netting are effective. Plant native plants tolerant of deer browsing. Plant plants that repel deer through smell and taste. Contact your nursery to find out more. Use flashing lights or loud noises to startle deer away.

In Defense of Animals, San Rafael, California

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Investigations in the Use of Immunocontraception

The Future of Wildlife Contraception PZP Immunocontraceptive Vaccine (100 Years of Mismanagement by the Pennsylvania Game Commission) by Dr. Kirkpatrick

Deer are among the most heavily hunted species across the United States.

Pennsylvania ranks at the top of the list for numbers of deer killed during hunting season (firearms and bowhunting) across the nation. After 100 years of intensive deer hunting, Pennsylvania is experiencing a so-called deer "overpopulation problem" due to the practices of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

At the end of the nineteenth century, there were almost no deer left in Pennsylvania. Due to excessive hunting and clearcutting of land for timber, deer numbers had dwindled to an estimated 10,000 across the state.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission took action to increase deer numbers for trophy hunters. Deer were imported from other states, habitat was modified to enhance deer viability, trap and transport was used to move deer from densely populated areas into low density areas, and vegetation was planted to feed deer. Within 25 years, deer numbers rebounded.

Intensive buck (trophy) hunting increases deer numbers. Pennsylvania has become a virtual "Baby Factory" for deer. "With proportionately fewer female deer being taken from the ecosystems of Pennsylvania, the reproductive capacities of deer herds had increased dramatically". Few Pennsylvania bucks ever live to see their second birthday and the ratio of females-to-males varies between estimates of 5-1 to 30-1 in some areas of the state.

Hunting damages the gene pool.
This form of unnatural selection has also yielded a bizarre gene pool. Hunter's intentionally kill the strongest, male members of the herd (bucks with the largest racks) rather than natural predation on the weakest members. The strongest genetic contributors never have a chance to reproduce.

Excessive hunting decimated the major predators of deer - puma and wolves. Leaving only a few bobcats and coyotes. Even those few remaining predators are hunted and trapped. Bobcats would later be hunted and trapped to near extinction by the 1960's, then protected for 30 years, and are now hunted and trapped again. Coyotes have been hunted consistently.

Today there is an estimated 1.4 million deer in Pennsylvania due to a century of deer mis-management by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The Pennsylvania Game Commission derives 70% of its funding from the sale of hunting licenses, fees, permits, and taxes, so it has managed deer herds to increase deer numbers.

After 100 years of intesive hunting the PA Game Commission has intentionally created a so called "deer overpopulation problem".

Immunocontraceptive vaccine

"This technology has limitations, yes. It's certainly not designed for 100,000 deer in Potter County," Kirkpatrick says. "But it is another tool for doing something where deer populations aren't huntable." PZP works when it's administered to animals like deer in a series of shots. Each deer has to get an initial shot, than a booster shortly thereafter. From that point on, they just need shots every other year or so. The technology is about 75 to 85 percent effective in the wild, says Dr. Allen Rutberg, senior scientist with the Humane Society of the United States.

PZP immunocontraception studies have been 85-95 percent successful at blocking pregnancies in white-tailed deer. In addition to its proven effectiveness, the PZP vaccine can be delivered easily by darts, cannot pass into the food chain, does not affect normal mating behavior, shows no side effects and allows a return to fertility when no longer administered. The Food and Drug Administration has given the HSUS approval for use of the vaccine in wildlife studies.

Only Immunocontraception will successfully control and reduce deer numbers. Immunocontraception is an emerging technology that offers a effective and humane means of controlling wildlife populations.

Wildlife Protection, Pennsylvania

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Buck/Doe Separator
Non-lethal deer population control
Invented by Anthony Marr

The latest campaign against culling as a means of deer population control is at the Royal Botanical Gardens in West Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Recent campaigns in Canada include those in British Columbia, notably Victoria and Invermere. Over the years, I've been involved in many such campaigns in the United States, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Maryland, either in person with local activists or via the internet as an "expert" advisor or consultant.

Almost all such cases have a political elements, local politics usually. In the case of the Royal Botanical Gardens, it is the Haudenosaunee Nation having been engaged to execution the plan by means of crossbows. These aspects I usually leave to the local groups to address. What I usually address is the physical aspect, which is universal from case to case.

First of all, as a population control measure, CULLING simply does not work. There is a factor known as the COMPENSATORY REBOUND EFFECT that the simple-minded, or the super-devious, inadvertently or deliberately leave out of the equation. Without it, the picture is over-simplistic: "If the population is too high, cut it down to size." With the Compensatory Rebound Effect factored in, we'll see that halving the population will double the food supply, which in turn will double the birth rate (does having twins or triplets rather than singlets due to richer food supply), which in turn will cause the same problem year after year.

There are of course people who will continue pushing for culling as a means of deer population control, including bow-hunters, natives, and "tulip lovers", each having their own agenda. The bow-hunters, for example, are relentless in forcing their way into urban and suburban areas where the use of firearms is prohibited. And they do so by hook or by crook, as photographically evidenced in my blog on the case at the Trexler Wildlife Preserve near Allentown, Pennsylvania: by which you could be enraged not only due to the bloodshed, but the public deception colluded upon by the local government, the local media, and the bow-hunters themselves. In many cases, it is the bow-hunter who is the prime driving force, the primary agenda in this case being the expansion of bow-hunting, other than simply providing for his blood lust. Another one is the notorious Anthony DeNicola, who makes a handsome profit out of being a wildlife exterminator, charging around $400 to shoot a deer, last I heard, times hundreds of deer per town times dozens of towns, year after year; he was the operator contracted to eradicate, and I mean down to the last member, all the Fallow and Axis deer from the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, by means of aerial shooting from helicopter. But that is another story.

My own alternative solution? Very simple, really, so simple I'm amazed that no one has put it to use after all these years since I conceived it, in spite of my repeated presentations to various city councils and county executives.


The idea is simply that if the bucks and does cannot physically get together, they cannot mate. The objective is to control how many does in the local population that will not be impregnated. Once this number has been determined - by a biologist - then a BUCK/DOE SEPARATOR would be constructed to actualize this number.

As a device a BUCK/DOE SEPARATOR cannot be simpler. It is nothing but a small piece of land ideally half-woods/half-pasture contained by deer-fencing punctuated by baited inward one-way gates. These gates should be wide enough for a doe to go through, but not a buck with wide antlers. Thus, only females can enter and their number can be monitored. Once the desired number is reached, the one-way gates would be locked.

Deer society has it that the females stay put and the males roam around. So, being contained in a fair sized enclosure, say an acre or so, as long as food supplements are provided, would not cause much distress for the does, especially since they were not coerced into the enclosure but entered on their own accord, nor would it damage the environment. The bucks could go chasing the remaining does somewhere else. Plus, the does in the enclosure need not stay there forever; only during the rutting season.

As you can see, this is inexpensive, labor-unintensive, effective and humane.

The only problem is: The hunters will oppose it, and the DNRs will capitulate to the NRA, and another round of culling will commence, unless of course this vicious cycle is broken some place. And there is no one who can break it but us.


Q1. Do all sexually mature male deer grow antlers? What about malnourished male deer not growing antlers.
A1. All sexually mature male deer grow antlers as far as I know, though the sizes and point numbers vary, as well as the time when a deer sheds them. There are a few general principles:
i. In any given year, the buck collects the necessary ingredients for growing antlers over a 9-10 months period, and store them in the skeletal system, whereas the period of vigorous antler growth covers only the last three months of the period.
ii. During the period of vigorous antler growth, the material for the antler comes not directly from the food, but drawn from the skeletal system. A full rack of adult antlers will suck about 1 pound of calcium from the skeletal system. The lost calcium is replaced by food intake containing calcium in the next year's cycle.
iii. During the rut, bucks do not eat, so the food availability during that time does not affect the condition of the bucks and their antlers.
iv. Pre-under-nourished bucks tend to shed their antlers earlier than well nourished bucks, say early January than mid-February.
v. Antler size does depend on nutritional conditions to an extent. If in the pre-antler-growth season the buck is under-nourished, they will prioritize in favor of building the body itself first, and the antlers second. But since (as mentioned above) the antler calcium is derived from the skeletal system and not directly from the food, the antlers will still grow - only on a smaller deer.

Q2: Could a buck get its antlers caught in the gate and would it be relatively easy to disentangle him.
A2: Use only the gate itself widely framed by plywood, with no netting involved. If a deer's antler is entangled in a net or a mesh, it would be difficult to disentangle without tranquilizing the deer first.

Q3: Will the doe/buck separator work equally well in suburban/semi-rural, wild areas?
A3: The Buck/Doe Separator principle can be applied to all kinds of settings, though each has to be custom designed to suit its background's physical and ecological parameters.

Q4: Do you have any data on its use and results.
A4. I have used a similar device called the Auto Deer-Assembler in India to round up those Chital deer that had spilled out of the tiger reserves into the surrounding agricultural areas. It has never been used in America due to pro-culling and pro-hunting opposition.

Q5: What about young bucks with small antlers. If they could pass through the one-way gates, they could impregnate the does in the enclosure.
A5: The hole in the plywood frame of the one-way gate has to be precisely shaped and sized to admit deer with NO antler. Whereas female deer can be sexually mature as early as 6 months old, bucks do not become sexually mature until 1.5 years old, when they will have a set of antlers about 25% the wide of a 6 year-old's, and given any rutting season, they usually mature towards the end of the rut.

Q6: Did any bucks get through the baited gates when they lost their antlers, possibly.
A6: N/A

Q7: Any data on population growth when used compared to no intervention or contraception or culling.
A7: N/A

Q8: Any references
A8: N/A

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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