- Report Published -
|Urban and Suburban Deer Management Options Study|
|Department of Game and Inland Fisheries|
|HJR 489 (Regular Session, 1997)|
|Current population estimates, based on computer reconstruction models, indicate that Virginia's deer herd is relatively stable with a conservative statewide population estimate of approximately 850,000-900,000 animals.|
Virginia's deer management direction has changed from establishing and allowing deer herd expansion to controlling population growth. This change has been based on the cultural carrying capacity, which is defined as the maximum number of deer that can coexist compatibly with humans.
Urban and suburban deer conflicts are one of the fastest growing deer management issues in Virginia.
Urban deer management circumstances typically involve non-hunted residential areas where deer populations have exhibited significant population increases leading to high levels of damage to ornamentals and property.
Urban deer management issues are expected to increase significantly in the Northern Piedmont and Tidewater regions as human populations continue to expand.
Numerous examples and research from Virginia and throughout the country have concluded that successful implementation of urban deer management programs hinges on public understanding, involvement, and acceptance. The VDGIF already has employed an integrated approach involving citizen participation to resolve urban/suburban deer management problems. Stakeholder participation in urban management decisions will be critical to successful programs.
Urban deer management options include: regulated hunting, allowing nature to take its course, trap and transfer, abatement techniques (fencing and repellents), fertility control, supplemental feeding, sharpshooters, and predator reintroduction.
Urban deer management is expensive. Under its current funding paradigm, the VDGIF does not have adequate staff or resources to effectively address Virginia's growing number of urban deer management issues.
No single deer management option or set of deer management options will always be the best to control deer populations in urban/suburban areas. While regulated hunting has been shown to be the most cost-effective method of managing deer populations, its general use in urban and suburban environments is more limited. The best application of the available deer management options in urban settings should consist of the most socially acceptable, safe, humane, effective, and affordable combination.
The Draft Deer Management Plan for Virginia (VDGIF 1997), produced by a constituent-based Deer Management Planning Committee, directs the VDGIF "to develop a management program for urban deer by January 1, 2004". Specific strategies include: to provide and promote site-specific deer management programs, to develop and adopt standard Department protocol and procedures for addressing urban deer management issues, and to provide site-specific technical assistance to help communities implement management programs for urban deer. Additionally, the plan calls for deer population reductions in the urban/suburban counties/cities of Fairfax, Hampton, Loudoun, Newport News, and Prince William.
The urban and suburban deer management options study offers the following recommendations:
That the VDGIF develop a management program for urban deer. Strategies include:
• to provide and promote site-specific deer management programs,
• to develop and adopt standard Department protocol and procedures for addressing urban deer management issues, and
• to provide site-specific technical assistance to help communities implement management programs for urban deer.
That the deer population be reduced in the urban/suburban counties/cities of Fairfax, Hampton, Loudoun, Newport News, and Prince William.
That the VDGIF seek additional/alternative funding sources to address urban deer management issues.
That the VDGIF seek legislation through the General Assembly to prohibit anyone from administering any chemical, biological compound, or device to free roaming or non-captive wildlife for the purpose of fertility control, except as specifically authorized by the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.