Tag Archives: community

Patriot LWM in Montgomery Sentinel Deer Article

Doah! A Deer Problem . . .

County still searches for solutions to growing deer population

One of the county's many deer residents.  -PHOTO BY HELEN HOCKNELL
One of the county’s many deer residents. -PHOTO BY HELEN HOCKNELL

Published on: Thursday, September 29, 2011 CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE LINK

By Helen Hocknell – The Sentinel Newspapers

Scientists call them Odocoileus virginianus, Disney names them “Bambi,” but farmer Ben Allnutt just calls them “rats with antlers.”

As the growing population of white-tailed deer continues to create problems for Montgomery County, farmers, gardeners and county officials seek solutions.

In the early 1900s, deer were nearly extinct in this region due to unregulated hunting. Hunting restrictions and reintroduction efforts in the decades that followed contributed to a dramatic population increase that has negatively impacted farm production, compromised road safety, and thrown the forest ecosystem off balance.

“What you have in Montgomery County is the perfect storm,” said Joe Brown, president of Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services, located in Barnesville, MD. His company works with land owners and local governments to provide a variety of environmental management services, including deer population control. “By taking away natural predators and limiting hunters’ ability to hunt, we’ve created their ideal habitat, which has lead to this population explosion.”

The rate of reproduction for deer is a big part of the problem. “Lifespan varies, but deer in suburban environments can live to 10-12 years, in absence of hunting or car strike,” explained Wildlife Biologist Bill Hamilton of the Montgomery County Department of Parks. Female deer can begin breeding at 1.5 years of age, and continue to produce fawns throughout their lifespan, generating as many as 1-3 fawns per year. “Does in good health tend to have twins and triplets during their prime,” said Hamilton.

This means population reduction efforts are most effective when targeted at mature, reproductive-aged females, since bucks can mate with multiple does. “It really goes back to an effort vs. results equation,” explained Brown. “Say you have three hunters, each with three hours a week to give. Each hunter kills a deer, but two kill a buck and one kills a doe. With the doe, you’ve essentially taken three deer out of the population, but the hunters who got the bucks just took one out.”

In general, archery season in Montgomery County is permitted Mondays through Saturdays, September 15 through January 31 each year, and is also open on the 1st Sunday in November.  Bow hunting is not permitted during the firearms and muzzleloader seasons.  Firearms season occurs for two weeks, beginning in late November and again for two days during early January.  Hunters in the county may use shotgun, muzzleloader, and archery equipment during the firearms season.  Muzzleloader season occurs during Mid-December and runs for approximately two weeks, typically ending around January 1.

While the county has eased restrictions in the past to include more Sundays and extend the season, some hunters still feel that the county could do more to encourage hunting.

“A lot of hunters are working people who don’t have as much free time except on weekends,” explained Wayne Long of Laurel, MD. “The way the regulations are set up, that leaves only Saturdays or maybe holidays, which may mean only one day for several weekends,” said Long. He has used a crossbow in the past, but prefers hunting with traditional firearms like muzzleloaders, which is restricted to only a couple weeks a year.

Another obstacle for hunters is simple: limited freezer space. “A hunter may harvest one or two deer per season because that’s all their personal freezer capacity allows. They aren’t going to kill an animal for the sake of killing it – that’s illegal and not what the sport of hunting is about,” said Agricultural Services Manager Jeremy Criss of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. So the county partnered up with Patriot Wildlife Management Services to coordinate the collection, processing and donation of venison to local area food banks. They set up cold boxes in Poolesville and Laytonsville where hunters could drop off field-dressed deer. In the 2010-2011 season, 401 deer were donated, providing 16,040 pounds of venison for food banks across the county.

The county also organizes a managed deer hunting program from late October through January, which hunters can apply to online after demonstrating knowledge and experience by completing a state-approved hunter safety education course and passing a background check. This year, managed hunts are scheduled to occur in eight locations.

“We currently have an active roster of approximately 325 approved participants,” said Hamilton, who explained that they typically remove approximately 500 deer annually through that program.

“We also utilize specially trained Park Police officers to remove deer during hours of darkness in specific parks.  This method is highly effective, but more costly than managed hunting, and can occur in more developed areas of the county. We remove 450-600 deer annually from approximately 11 park locations using this program,” explained Hamilton, adding that this method of removal allows them to meet standards of humane euthanasia as established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

But in the city of Rockville, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio doesn’t feel an organized hunt would be appropriate. “I’d like to see if there’s a way we can deal with this issue without resorting to culling the herd,” said Marcuccio. “My fist concern is, what are you saying to children? If something’s in your way, to just kill it? We have to manage the surplus, but you’re talking about trying to do some kind of major event in a city which is heavily populated that already has gun control rules that prevent you from firing a fire arm within city limits.”

While county and city officials work to figure out appropriate solutions for their jurisdictions, the impacts of deer overpopulation continue to present challenges to farmers and gardeners. The economic damage caused by deer eating farmers’ crops is significant, as a single deer can consume up to 2,000 pounds of grain per year.

“In 2004, farmers came to the county government and said that the greatest threat to Montgomery County agriculture is the white-tailed deer,” recounted Criss. The farmers showed aerial photos of their fields that illustrated stunning losses per acre.

“Well, people aren’t going to buy half an ear of corn with a big bite out of it,” said farmer Ben Allnutt of Homestead Farms, “and you can’t have people coming in to pick strawberries and have them kneeling in deer poop.”

Ten years ago, Homestead Farms was suffering such high crop losses due to deer browsing that they were at risk of going under. “We had to do something,” said Allnutt. “We could go out of business, or put a fence up.”

Allnutt invested around 65 thousand dollars to put up roughly 3.5 miles of fencing around 270 acres of crops. They used their own labor and planned to pay it back over five years, but the fence paid for itself in just two. “After two years, we were struggling with high yields,” explained Allnutt. “When you don’t have anything missing all of a sudden, you get a real handle on what they were actually consuming.”

While farmers seek ways to mitigate crop damage on a larger scale, frustrated gardeners have turned to everything from cayenne pepper, coyote urine, and intricate nets and fencing to protect their plants. Sherrye Schenk at the Potomac Garden Center says that while they don’t carry products that contain coyote urine because of inhumane collection methods, there are lots of other great products that work well if used correctly.

“If the plant is not edible, I would recommend a Liquid Fence. It’s basically rotten eggs and garlic,” said Schenk, adding that it can protect your garden against rabbits as well as deer. It’s a spray, so it may wash away in heavy rain. “If you’ve got an all-day soaker, you may want to re-apply,” said Schenk.

For vegetable gardens, Schenk recommends Deer Scram. “It’s a powder, so just sprinkle a perimeter around your garden. It contains dried sow’s blood, garlic, white pepper, and cloves. Animals think something has died there, so they avoid the area.”

Putting up a physical barrier around your garden may work to keep deer out, but sometimes bucks’ antlers can get caught in netting. “If you’re doing fencing, you want to make sure it’s at least 7 feet high, otherwise the deer will jump over it,” added Schenk.

Meanwhile, deer over-browsing continues to throw forest ecosystems off balance. “It’s a huge problem,” said Forest Ecologist Carole Bergmann of the Montgomery County Department of Parks, which oversees 35,000 acres of parkland. “There are not many people to manage that area and a heck of a lot of deer,” she explained.

Bergmann described a “browse line” that is easily visible in areas with high population densities of the keystone herbivore. “It’s just a big blank space,” said Bergmann. “If you walk in the woods, there’s nothing from about 4 or 5 inches off the ground – no shrub layer, no understory layer – going all the way up to about 5 feet high where deer can’t reach.”

The effects can be seen all up and down the East Coast, and it is exacerbating the problem of invasive plant species. “Deer won’t eat the invasives – they’ll only feed on native plants,” explained Bergmann. This further endangers native species that are already struggling to compete with the recently-introduced plants that are taking over.

In the face of a complex and growing problem, some remain optimistic. “Montgomery County is unique – they have one of the most proactive park systems in deer management in the country,” said Brown. Unfortunately, officials face an uphill battle.

As Criss explained, “we’ve got a long ways to go, and in this economic environment, we’re not going to have as many resources available to deal with the problem.”

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Patriot LWM on “Voice of Russia Radio” – Maryland Tackling Deer Overpopulation


Spotting a deer in nature is often an exciting thing. For many it’s a graceful creature that makes one think of Bambi and other gentile animals. But when deer populations grow too big they can be a safety hazard to human populations, as well as the ecology of an area. Currently, the city of Rockville, Maryland, is looking for ways to control its deer population, which has caught the attention of Bob Barker, the former host of the Price is Right and nationally known animal rights activist. He has written an open letter to Rockville, asking officials for other options than hunting the deer. Joe Brown, President of Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services, Inc., who is also President and co-founder of Western Chesapeake Watershed Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, and Jonathan Kays, a natural resource extension specialist with the University of Maryland Extension, talk about how to solve the problem of oversized deer populations.

Click HERE for Voice of Russia Website

Patriot LWM Member Photo Featured in Local Wildlife Story

Just a few weeks ago, in late July, Patriot LWM volunteer Holger Kray of Darnestown, MD put out some trail cameras at a Patriot LWM managed property in Darnestown – one that is blessed with a variety of wildlife, but suffers from a significant degree of trespassing and poaching. A few days later, Holger returned to gather the camera and see what pictures it had taken. Unexpectedly, he got one picture of an early morning invader that no one really expected to see in this suburban area, and no, it wasn’t a sasquatch. As land and wildlife managers, it is our job to keep our eyes peeled and ears tuned in to what is going on and informing our clients and communities of what we see and experience, and offer our professional opinion. It’s amazing how social media keeps us informed – from trail camera picture, to a Tweet, to a news story in just hours….Take a quick minute for a great read posted in the NorthPotomac-Darnestown Patch!

Coyote Spotted in Darnestown

“Coyotes don’t normally pose a threat to people, but there’s always a risk.”

By Glynis Kazanjian
August 4, 2011

A coyote was caught on film roaming the grounds of a private farm in Darnestown in the early morning hours of July 31. Holger Kray, a Darnestown resident and volunteer with Patriot Land and Wildlife Management, said he set up a trail camera there, along with various other properties in the area.

Patriot LWM helps landowners with environmental improvements and wildlife management.

Kray sent the photo of the coyote out in a Tweet earlier today. He said he didn’t do it to alarm anyone.

“We’ve had several sightings of coyotes,” Kray said. “It’s fascinating to inform residents of the beautiful and diverse wildlife in a suburban area. I’m a true wildlife enthusiast.”

Kray said coyotes are present in the area, but should not be considered dangerous to human beings, including children. His neighbor spotted one four weeks ago on Berryville Road in Darnestown, and his wife saw one on their property last year.

Kray said coyotes are here as a natural migration and that they are afraid of humans.

“Their first choice is to run away from humans. This is why you hardly ever see a coyote. They feed on small rodents, on little deer and human beings should not be afraid of them. The same holds true for foxes, dogs and cats.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the government agency that manages coyote sightings in the state, said there is no available estimate for how many coyotes there are in the county, only that coyotes have a presence in every county of the state.

“It is a very rare and exciting experience to see a coyote. People normally don’t get to,” said Patricia Allen, Wildlife and Heritage Information Manager at DNR. “Coyotes don’t normally pose a threat to people, but like any wild animal, there’s always a risk.”

Allen said wild creatures are allowed to roam freely, but there are biologists at DNR who study their behavior. There are also two hunting seasons for coyotes: the firearm, bow and crossbow season, from October 15 to March 15, and the trapping season which runs from November 1 to January 19 in Montgomery County.

County residents who are concerned about coyotes may call the DNR nuisance hotline at 1-877-463-6497.

To view the Patch website story, please visit http://northpotomac.patch.com/articles/coyote-spotted-in-darnestown#c

PRESENTATIONS FROM SUBURBAN DEER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP POSTED

The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office has posted all the presentations and information from last months “Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers” of which Patriot Land & Wildlife President Joe Brown was a guest speaker. The Forestry Resources Website has all the information you could need when it comes to making an educated decision regarding your suburban deer management issues.

CLICK HERE FOR PRESENTATIONS

Patriot LWM’s Ryan Schultze Presents on Deer Management at the University of Maryland

On Wednesday April 27, 2011, Patriot Land and Wildlife Project Manager Ryan Schultze was invited to be a guest speaker at the University of Maryland, College Park campus, to a senior-level Animal Sciences class about community-based deer management. “Critical Thinking” is the capstone course in the Animal Sciences Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, challenging students to analyze and solve a variety of real issues involving the dynamics between animals, wildlife, the environment, and humans.

The class was lead by invited speaker Nevin Dawson, Forestry Stewardship Educator from theUniversity of Maryland Extension. Nevin provided students with a background of white-tailed deer in Maryland and discussed problems caused by deer such as lack of forest undergrowth due to overbrowsing, ornamental vegetation and agricultural crop damage, Lyme disease, deer vs. vehicle accidents, etc. Several activities were facilitated for students to consider different situations involving deer damage and challenging them to think of ways to solve them.

To provide a real-world perspective of deer management and all the factors that come into play, Ryan Schultze of Patriot provided two case studies of community-based deer management, highlighting various challenges often faced when implementing a deer management program, specific successes of Patriot’s programs and how they affect the community, and how such programs are beneficial for stakeholders like farmers, homeowners, hunters, and the general community.

Patriot LWM President Joe Brown to speak at Suburban Deer Management Workshop presented by University of Maryland Extension

On Thursday, May 26th 2011 from 8:30am to 3:20pm, deer management professionals from around the state will be presenting to Maryland’s decision makers. The program titled “Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers”, will cover a wide range of topics and issues faced by Maryland’s local government officials, land managers, park officials, police, homeowner associations and more.

Suburban Deer Management 2011 Brochure

Here is a press release on the program, sign up today:

REGISTER NOW! SUBURBAN DEER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP

Local government officials, land managers, park managers, police, homeowner associations, non- profit organizations, private property owners, business owners and other decision-makers are invited to attend the workshop, Suburban Deer Management: Options and Choices for Decision-Makers, on May 26, 2011 at the Elks Club in Bowie, MD from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop is being offered by the University of Maryland Extension in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Deer contribute greatly to our quality of life; however, they have become overabundant in suburban and urban areas, creating major challenges to local decision-makers on how to deal with citizens and their differing views on the issue. On one hand, there are serious safety issues to deal with such as Lyme disease and deer-vehicle collisions. Deer also cause extensive damage to residential landscapes, crops, and natural forests. Some think that populations must be reduced through lethal options and others think that only non-lethal means should be used, such as fencing, repellents, and managing vegetation. Some want a combination of the two.

The workshop is specifically designed for local decision-makers and managers to provide an opportunity to learn from case studies and current research what methods have been used, their effectiveness, and more importantly, how to implement a community-based deer management program in their area. The atmosphere will provide a comfortable learning environment where you can ask hard questions and learn from real life applications. Rather than be reactive, what you learn at this workshop will allow you to work proactively in your locale and, hopefully, avoid the pitfalls. Case studies of successful programs are showcased and the most up-to-date reference materials provided.

More information about registering for the program is available at http://www.naturalresources.umd.edu or by contacting Pam Thomas at the University of Maryland Western Maryland Research & Education Center at 301-432-2767 ext 315. The registration cost is $25 per person which includes lunch and materials.

Agenda:

8:30 a.m. Registration: Coffee and Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. Welcome: Jonathan Kays
9:05 a.m. Overview of Deer Management in Maryland
Speaker: Brian Eyler, MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service• Population, hunting trends, responsibilities, CWD, upcoming issues
9:30 a.m. Impact of Deer Management Inaction on Natural Ecosystems
Speaker: Anne Hairston-Strang, MD DNR Forest Service
• Ecosystem impact of deer and ability to rebound
10:00 a.m. Overview of Deer Impacts & Effectiveness of Lethal & Non-Lethal Management Options
Speakers: George Timko, MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service, Kevin Sullivan, USDA-APHIS, and Jonathan Kays
• Trends in deer – vehicle collisions, lyme disease, agricultural & residential landscape damage
• Fencing, repellents, vegetation management, population management
10:45 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. Best Practices for Implementing a Managed Hunt Program
Speaker: Phil Norman, Howard County Recreation and Parks Department
• Details, issues, logistics, and what to expect based on experiences of Howard & Montgomery Counties.
11:30 a.m. Utilizing Organized Hunting Groups & Contractors
Speaker: Joe Brown – Patriot Land & Wildlife Management Services, Inc
• Services provided and available to farmers, Homeowner Associations, local governments, and others.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Barriers & Pitfalls of Community-Based Deer Management
Speakers: George Timko, Kevin Sullivan & Jonathan Kays
• Brief overview of liability concerns, dealing with the vocal minority, paralysis by analysis, gaining consensus, and other realities.
1:15 p.m. Learning by Example: Community-Based Deer Management Efforts That Work
• 20 years of Deer Management in Montgomery County (Rob Gibbs, Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission)
• Accokeek Community Deer Program (Holliday Wagner & Byron Williams, citizens in the community)
• Managing Large & Diverse Properties Owned by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) – (Jim Benton, WSSC)
• Developing a Cooperative Management Program using Quality Deer Management Principles (Kip Adams, Quality Deer Mgt. Assoc.)
2:50 p.m. Question & Answer Session with all speakers – facilitated discussion and questions
3:20 p.m. Evaluation & Adjourn

Directions to Bowie Elks Club
1506 Defense Hwy, Gambrills, MD 21054
Phone 301-261-3260: http://www.bpoe2309.org

• From the Capital Beltway (Rt.95), exit on to Rt. 50 east toward Annapolis.
• Continue east on Rt. 50 until you reach Rt. 3 north towards Crofton.
• Exit onto Rt. 3 north and continue until you reach Defense Highway (Rt.450) east toward Annapolis. Make a right turn onto Rt. 450 east and continue approximately 2 miles.
• Elks Lodge 2309 is on the left side.

The Thankless World of Community-Based Deer Management, A Hornets Nest for Certain

Deer vs. human conflicts are increasing nationwide as a result of their prolific reproductive potential, a decrease in natural predators and an increase in perfectly designed deer edge habitat created by suburban development.

The problem with these issues is this:

  • A white-tailed deer’s reproductive potential doesn’t show any signs of slowing, although science is working on it
  • I don’t see significant numbers of wolves and other effective predators making a stand in suburban areas without quickly becoming the new human conflict
  • Although slowed by the recent economic climate, development will continue to occur in some form or another across the country, and even if it was to cease completely, the current community issues would still exist

These 3 problems usually first present themselves in the suburban fringe adjacent to agriculture or large green space. The conflict has an increased potential to occur were large numbers of humans interact in that fringe, better known as suburban communities.

A community-based comprehensive deer management plan is a complicated undertaking which should not be taken lightly. There are many deer management options available to a community ranging from fencing, scare devices, repellants and alternative horticultural plantings to multiple different options of population reduction techniques. Truly effective results are only achieved if done on a community wide scale through the proper procedures involving all stakeholders in the process. Community meetings, surveys, presentations from wildlife professional and more are all part of an effective path towards addressing the deer vs. human conflict. Even with the most diligent planning, be prepared for the simple fact that “You can not please everyone”. Managing the deer vs. human conflict is about locating that happy median between the two.

Read the linked story about a Patriot LWM managed project as it appeared in the Frederick News Post. (*Disclaimer* all numbers, pricing and figures in the article were inaccurate and/or used out of context by the author). This community did everything within their power to exercise due diligence in the process, and were ready to stand their ground because of it. Be prepared for that moment when one community members private agenda meets a reporter looking for a story. Welcome to the world of “Wildlife Management” . More to follow…