White-tailed deer are a enjoyed by landowners and hunters in rural areas, but this is not so much the case in suburban and urban settings like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, many cities across the US are starting to take a closer look at increased suburban deer management programs. Not because they want more deer, but because they need less. They are simply trying to cope with overabundant deer populations.
Whitetail are a prolific species that does well in areas where hunting is non-existent, and that type of land is increasing because of suburban development, many of which include greenbelts where deer thrive. Add to the good habitat, few natural predators in these areas the fact that city ordinances and property owner associations ban hunting and the whitetail numbers just keep going up, up and away. The time for a new deer management plan has arrived:
Source: “In urban deer management, the Game Commission is falling on its face,” said Robinson resident Randy Santucci, president of Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania. “Just jacking up the doe permits doesn’t solve the problem — it’s up to 61,000 in 2B.”
At a recent meeting with the Board of Game Commissioners, Santucci presented ideas intended to help the agency to “reduce the urban deer population.”
Did he say “reduce?” For years, Unified Sportsmen has aggressively attacked the Game Commission’s deer management plan on the grounds that too many deer were being killed, asserting that the agency didn’t have the backs of Keystone State hunters. Twice in the last decade Unified challenged the agency in Commonwealth Court in unsuccessful bids to reverse the intentional reduction of the deer population.
In what could be seen as a softening of tactics, Unified Sportsmen’s president is now proposing ideas that would help the Game Commission to trim deer populations in urban areas. Santucci said he understands the irony.
“This is something from outside the box,” he said, “to help address the economic impact of hunters no longer going to camps in the mountains where there used to be lots of deer, and problems in the suburbs where they have the opposite problem of too many deer.”
Habitat management for better native plant communities that benefit endemic wildlife species is a noble concept, but many landowners do not properly plan their management endeavors. There is a logical sequence of steps that a landowner should follow once they have decided to plan or manage for wildlife. Not only is a wildlife management plan a must, but property owners need to think about their long term desires.
What are your goals? Decide exactly what you would like to do for wildlife and wildlife habitats. Do you want more individuals or a few game species, more birds at your feeder, better white-tailed deer, more ducks on your ponds, or a greater diversity of species in your woods. Do you wish to qualify for a wildlife tax exemption? First and foremost, write down your goals. Continue reading
For landowners interested in wildlife and habitat management, a wildlife management plan is an important part of successful, long-term management of their property. Before getting too deep into management practices you may want to implement, determine your goals and objectives for the land. Then, begin the wildlife management plan by obtaining a map or aerial photo of your land. Aerial photographs are available at no charge to the landowner from many state wildlife agencies in addition to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
When looking at a photo of your property, note the different plant communities. Most properties have 3 to 5 plant communities, and it’s important to see how they fit together. Each type of habitat meets different wildlife needs, so for best results they should be intermixed on your property. Also, pay attention to areas that are isolated from other habitat types.
Some smaller animals, such as quail and rabbits require habitat types be close together. These species like dense brush adjacent to open grassy areas. Other wildlife species such as white-tailed deer and turkey can travel hundreds of yards to find food, cover, and water, so spacing is not quite as important. However, it’s important to plan travel corridors for these animals. Continue reading
Last year, 61 parcels of land in Travis County were designated as ecology laboratories for research purposes, which saved the 22 owners thousands of dollars in property taxes. But this year, every one of those ecolab exemptions was denied after the Travis County Central Appraisal District determined that they weren’t legitimate. A couple have been reinstated since they were pulled, and other property owners may sue, but there is a fundamental problem with the state’s ecolab and wildlife preservation tax exemptions: It is hard to know whether they are legitimate. Continue reading