Tag Archives: hunting

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

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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

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.

Migration is for the “birds”…Resident Geese present new challenges for managers

The Canada Goose has long been a recognizable member of the waterfowl flotilla bobbing up and down on Maryland’s many lakes, rivers and ponds. From early childhood we are taught about the winter migration of waterfowl “flying South for the winter” and back North to lay and hatch their young.
As the years past and the occasional nesting pair became nesting flocks, one couldn’t help but wonder if the popular saying failed to make its way to the geese. Year round populations of geese have become a common occurrence in Maryland, going from neat to nuisance for many citizens.
 
The Resident Goose:
 
This new emergence of non-migrating geese have created a new term in the wildlife management community, the now infamous “Resident Goose”. These resident geese do just that, reside year round on area water bodies, lawns, golf courses and crop fields. If unharrased, they often roost in the same place night after night and utilize food sources in the immediate area day after day. With a mature goose defecating nearly a pound a day, the damage begins to mount in those areas. Problems including high nitrogen levels in water bodies, damage to crops, landscapes and ball fields from overgrazing, as well as the health hazards attributed to human interaction with their waste.
These geese begin nesting in late February and March with eggs hatching sometime in late April. Average clutch sizes range from 3-6 eggs with females reproducing after 2-3 years of age and sometimes getting very aggressive in defense of their nests during this time period. Sometime in late June to mid July these geese go through a 4-6 week molting period in which they lose their flight feathers and are stuck to the ground with the rest of us. This process goes on year after year with potential ages of resident geese reaching sometimes over 20 years.
These older resident geese have become very wise to the tricks of the hunting community, taking up residence often in uphuntable areas within the urban fringe. Golf course ponds, homeowners association stormwater management areas, local government water features and even tops of buildings often become preferred habitat; see attached video below.
 
Management Options:
 
There are a multitude of available management options that may be able to address your individual goose issues, not all of them work as advertised, but non-the-less some do work. Your basic goose control methods are broken down into the following:
  • Harassment (dogs, people, sound cannons, etc.)
  • Exclusion (Habitat modification, fence construction)
  • Repellents
  • Lethal (hunting, flightless round-up, egg addling)
Resident goose management can be a very complex and delicate issue, an issue which is just now beginning to make its way to the level currently experienced by suburban deer managers. An entire article can be written on each of the above methods, and we will most likely get into them more in the near future. If you would like more information on your goose management issues feel free to contact Patriot LWM at 240-687-7228 or visit us at www.patriotlwm.com/wildlife-control/.

Program Continues to Take Deer from “Nuisance to Nutrient”

The reproductive potential of White-tailed deer is no secret to the majority of citizens today. Often a simple drive down an area roadway will show signs of their presence in the form of an unsightly carcass or an unlucky commuters bumper laying near the shoulder. You may have even shaken your head at the sight and thought to yourself, “What a waste!”. Well you weren’t alone.

In early 2004, as populations of White-tailed deer continued to climb (along with the associated crop damage) despite historically liberal harvest limits for local hunters, area wildlife managers were left scratching their heads. Why would the overall population of deer continue to climb despite increased hunting opportunities for local hunters? What was the limiting factor in the reduction effort and how do we correct it?

With the help of a landowner survey revealing the increasing environmental, health, safety and economic problems caused by the overpopulation of white-tailed deer, the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and other County departments asked this very same question. How do we reduce the number of deer without creating wanton waste and possibly fill another void?

In the end the answer was not so much the lack of will, but the need for a way.

The Problem:

Regardless of hunter harvest opportunities, the average household freezer holds packaged meat from up to 2 processed deer. Some hunters were able to find family and friends who could use the meat from other harvest deer, but often their freezers filled up quickly as well. The hunters desire to harvest more deer in support of a sustainable population was there, but the avenue to distribute that meat was not. Meanwhile, the freezers of local area food banks didn’t stay quite as full and the stomachs of less fortunate families faired about the same. Enter the DED, area farmers and a non-profit by the name of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

The Solution:

The DED Agricultural Services Division along with FHFH and area farmers worked with various agencies within Montgomery County as part of this County-wide deer management effort to find a solution. The solution? A County-funded deer donation program to help connect the increased harvest from hunters with the areas shelters and food banks.

The Deer Donation Program encouraged farmers and hunters to harvest more deer in a responsible manner by providing local, minimum- hassle deer collection sites, of which there are two in Montgomery County. Hunters would drop off their harvested deer at these refrigerated trailer collection sites which would in-turn be transported to a certified meat processor. Once processed, the meat is then donated to the Capital Area Food Bank which distributes the meat to food banks and shelters across the Washington Metro area.

Results

The program is currently administered in partnership with Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services that coordinates the collection, processing, and donation of venison to food banks in the local area. From it’s humble beginnings of 39 donated deer in the 2004-2005 season, the 2010-2011 season proved to be the best yet with 401 deer being donated. These 401 deer equate to over 16,000 pounds of meat donated to the areas less fortunate.

The Deer Donation Program has invested $140,000 over 7 years. The value of the Program is calculated to be upwards of $255,000. This is based on the value of the meat collected (49,080 lbs at $2/lb) and the value of the crops not consumed from agricultural fields (1,227 deer harvested, 2,000 lbs of grain saved for each deer harvested (2,454,000 lbs.), value of grain estimated at $3.671/bushel). This does not include the reduction in vehicular damage caused by deer vs. vehicle collisions or many of the other negative economic impacts resulting from an overpopulation of deer.

Even despite the apparent economic success of the program, the true value to those families in need is something that is hard to put a price on.

The program has spawned the creation of several other similar donation programs throughout Maryland over the past few years. Hopefully with renewed support from local officials, this program can continue to  fill a need on multiple fronts.

Read a complete summary of the 2010-2011 results here:

Check out a past newspaper article about the program here:

Constructing a Future: Wood Duck Boxes and You

Maryland is home to a rich variety of waterfowl species. We’ve all seen Canada geese honking their way from pond to field. Some of them endure the winter migration, and some of them are year-round residents who call Maryland home. Ever seen a wood duck? Well, much is the same with wood ducks, arguably the most beautiful duck native to North America.Wood ducks nest in tree cavities near water and utilize wetlands as their home to raise their young. Unfortunately, as urban sprawl occurs, more and more of these wetlands are being destroyed, limiting the wood duck’s habitat and success in Maryland. Don’t lose faith. A lot is being done to bring the population back to where it once existed. You can become part of the effort too, and it doesn’t take much.

Wood ducks suffered a serious decline in the late 19th century for a variety of reasons, including habitat loss and market hunting for their meat and plumage.  Because of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, market hunting was ended and measures were enacted to protect remaining habitat. Wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920s, and the development of the artificial nesting box and its implementation by Federal and State governments and local wildlife enthusiasts in the 1930s began providing an additional boost to wood duck production. The hope was that the ducks would utilize the “cavity” characteristic of the boxes to nest. The ducks did, and they made an astounding comeback. Nesting sites are only half the battle, though. Woods ducks also require wetland habitat that provides them with shelter, food, and protection from predators. If you have a wooded stream or pond on your property or if you live along a Chesapeake Bay shore with woods nearby (which is alot of you!), you may be able to attract wood ducks simply by constructing a nest box.

Building a wood duck box is simple, inexpensive, and there are plenty of plans you can find online that detail designs, placement, etc. Do your homework.
The Maryland Wood Duck Initiative, an all-volunteer effort,  aims “to enhance Maryland’s wood duck population and to generate a greater appreciation of the wetland habitats in which they live by advocating and demonstrating the merits of a “best practices” approach in managed nest programs.” State agencies like the Department of Natural Resources, conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited, and companies like Patriot LWM are other important resources for anything wood duck related and are more than happy to  provide you with information and help develop your wood duck plan.

So, now for some more timely information. What are wood ducks doing right now in Maryland? Wood ducks nest from April to June, so right now is a great time to get your nesting boxes built, or cleaned out if you already have boxes (if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of being cooped up in the house and are itching for a reason to get outside and do something).  Add a few inches of wood shavings (don’t use sawdust because it can suffocate the ducklings) for nesting material, attach the boxes to poles (don’t forget the predator guards!), and place them around forested areas near the water for when they arrive. You’ve now become a part of the effort! The rest is up to the ducks.

A few professional tips:

  • Females often search for a nesting site early in the mornings; therefore try to face the opening of the box towards the east so the opening is more visible from morning rays of sunlight.
  • Try to avoid facing the opening towards the prevailing wind for the area as this will cause undo stress on the nesting birds.
  • Limit the amount of underbrush under the boxes to reduce predator access to the poles.

 If a wood duck finds your box suitable for laying eggs, in about 1 month 9-12 eggs will hatch and, within 24 hours, the ducklings will use their sharp claws to climb to the nest box entrance and fall to the ground or water.  Once on the ground, the female will lead the ducklings to the nearest body of water (they won’t come back to the nest, don’t take it personally). Wood duck young can fly in about 60 days from hatching; meanwhile, their mother looks after them and protects them from harm*courtesy of Maryland DNR*.  It’s always a good idea to check your nesting boxes once during the nesting season to clean them out and add new nesting material. Besides doing some housekeeping, a visit during the nesting season will show if your nesting boxes have been productive and improve the odds of the box being used again during the season.

So there you have it. You made an effort and it didn’t take much, did it? Enjoy the feeling that comes from conservation, and share it with a child – they are our future conservationists. And every time you catch a glimpse of a wood duck’s beautiful iridescent plumage or hear their unmistakable “ooo-eeekk” squeal echo through the woods or across the water, consider it a “Thanks.”

If you’d like to get a fully assembled wood duck box and predator guard contact Patriot LWM at 240-687-7228.

Measuring Success in Deer Management: A Numbers Game

On the last day of January, as another Maryland hunting season came to a close, being a passionate wildlife manager I found myself anxiously awaiting the final test of Patriot LWM management strategies. Thorough analysis of hunter harvest records and observation logs is what drives our measure of success or failure, and what guides our management objectives for the following year. Although hunters under Patriot management must log harvests into our online database within 24 hours, the laundry list of other tasks to accomplish during the season does not afford us the opportunity to really look deeply into the numbers.   

Observations logs completed by hunters after each hunt include information like:

  • Location Hunted
  • Weather Conditions
  • Number and Sex of Deer Seen (Does, Bucks, Yearlings, Unknowns)
  • Predators Seen
  • Other comments
Harvest data collected by hunters includes information like:
  • Sex of the animal (Doe, Buck, Button Buck)
  • Approximate Age (Utilizing Tooth Wear and Replacement)
  • Approximate Weight
  • Presence and number of any fetus’(Generally appear later in the season)
  • Presence of Milk (Does)  
  • Antler Measurements (Bucks)

Each aspect of the biological data collected could be a blog entry in and of itself (hint: each may very well be in the future) used to discuss the importance of the measurement and what it is telling the wildlife manager. For the purpose of this blog entry, I only wish to present the case study of the Patriot Land and Wildlife 2010-2011 management season and allow readers to begin to see how the data collection relates to measures of a management program.  

Patriot LWM Hunter Management

Patriot LWM organizes, qualifies and provides oversight for a volunteer hunting group known as the Patriot Whitetail Removal Team (PWRT) for use with large or small scale management efforts on properties that demand both discretion and production.

Patriot LWM also provides hunter management for our recreational leasing and property management clients to insure their wildlife management programs are carried out in conjunction with the recreational enjoyment of the land.

Patriot utilizes the principles of Quality Deer Management to educate it’s hunters in deer biology and administer harvest quotas and techniques to be carried out by both sets of hunters.   

The Numbers

Brief Analysis and Discussion

The total management area for Patriot LWM was 5000 acres. PWRT and Lease Members harvested a total of 345 deer on that acreage.

       PWRT

The PWRT accounted for 220 of those 345 deer. 96% of the total harvest were does (females), 3% were button bucks (.5 year old males) and less than 1% of the total harvest were Bucks. Of the 7 button bucks killed, many were the result of late season body size increases which made them mistakenly targeted for harvest as does. Of the 2 bucks that were harvested, one was a 3.5 year old buck with only ¼” small velvet nubs where antlers should have grown, again causing this buck to be targeted as a doe. The other was a 4.5 year old mature buck with an antler score of 149 total inches, 7th largest crossbow harvest in Maryland ever, obviously meeting our ideal harvest standards.

PWRT members averaged 1 deer harvest for every 2.5 hours spent in the treestand which is a testimate to both their hunting ability as well as their maximization of the effort vs. result equation (the manner in which effort is applied has a direct correlation to the result realized). Most female deer possess reproductive potential by 1.5 years of age, with older deer accounting for the highest reproductive potential,  often bearing twins and in some cases triplets.

Therefore the targeting of this upper age structure in a population will further expand on this effort vs. result scenario. Harvesting 3 deer of lower reproductive potential is not as effective as harvesting 3 deer with a high reproductive potential, although the exact same amount of effort is expended in both cases. 62% of the 220 deer harvested by PWRT were 2.5 years old or older, 23 % were 1.5 years old and only 15% of the total harvest were less than 1.5 years of age.       

According to the Maryland Annual Deer Report, during the 2009-2010 season, 66% of the total state hunter harvest were antlerless (deer without antlers) and 34% were antlered bucks. When you factor in the total number of button bucks (male antlerless) that were recorded during this time, the actual female deer harvest is 52%, with males making up the other 48%. These numbers are a far cry from the above 96% needed to realize a population reduction as is recommended by many State wildlife managers.   

     Leasing Members

Although not quite as precise, a similar situation unfolded on recreational leases under Patriot LWM oversight. Lease members accounted for 125 total deer harvested, 89% were does, 8% bucks and 3% were button bucks. Of the 10 bucks killed, 4 were harvested due to the fact they had been severely wounded on adjacent properties and needed to be put down out of proper ethics. 3 bucks were harvested by youth hunters (16 years or under) and 3 were harvested as meeting the mature buck requirements.

       Combined Analysis   

Measuring the reproductive potential of a population is an inexact science; many factors weigh into the debate including herd health, climate, weather conditions, predators etc. For demonstration purposes we will only make a few assumptions so that readers can better visualize how specific harvest requirements weigh in to the effort vs. result we talked about. If we assume that based on our age structure, some deer would have had triplets, some twins, others 1 or none at all, the following are an example as if the reproductive aged does would have had twins. The combined harvest of these 345 deer, plus their reproductive potential which was not realized accounts for up to 989 deer that will not be there in the spring of 2011 to feast on agricultural crops, landscapes or ground nesting bird habitat. An adult deer consumes on average 1.5 tons of forage a year, so 345 deer harvested immediately results in 517.5 tons saved and up to 1483.5 tons saved for 2011.

In later blog entries we will take a look at specific results as they relate to agricultural yield data and economic relationships to effective deer management, stay tuned!