Tag Archives: nuisance

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 INFORMATIVE VIDEO SERIES: BEAVER MANAGEMENT

In an effort to better educate our customers and let them see into our world, Patriot LWM will begin to release video blogs outlining projects we have been working on and things on the horizon.

Here is a short clip of a beaver management technique for a property where the owner decided to utilize trapping as a damage mitigation technique. Beaver damage was experienced on many trees in the property’s creek watershed area which allowed waters to rise into the neighboring agricultural fields.

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

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/.

You Want to Plant What?? Benefits of Diversionary Food Plots in Agriculture

When the idea of planting food plots for white-tailed deer rolls across your tongue in front of concerned community members or agricultural professionals fed up with deer damage, the response is often the same. “You want to plant what??? The last thing we need around here is more deer, and feeding them will surely do just that.”

This statement is not far from the truth but the reasoning behind why it’s a good management decision may surprise you. 

The Origin of a Concept:

When Patriot LWM first began management efforts on a 250 acre tract with 132 acres of crop production agriculture and the remainder in timber and other cover types, the deer damage issue was at a breaking point. Hunter harvest practices were the first issue to get a facelift on the property including the increase in the reduction of adult female deer (does) and implementation of other techniques in line with the principles of “Quality Deer Management”. Initial population analysis identified the need for an extremely high number of female deer to be removed from the property, so much so that alternative harvest techniques needed to be considered.

 Supplemental Food Plots:

A well rounded wildlife management program incorporates habitat and forage management into its population control measures. So as a wildlife manager I am somewhat partial to the idea of supplemental food plots as a way to create a year round nutritional program for the overall health of my white-tailed populations. Food plots of varying species (such as clover, chicory, cow peas, etc.) with varying maturation times can be installed to supplement existing food sources (row crops, acorns, etc.). They can also fill gaps in the deer’s diet after other food sources are exhausted, such as after crops are harvested or acorns are depleted. Depending on their intended use and location, it is very simple for supplemental food plots to double as a diversionary food plot as well.

 Diversionary Food Plots:

My definition of a diversionary food plot is simply a plot installed for the purpose of diverting a deer’s feeding attention off of one source and onto another, such as off of row crops and into a clover mixture. Once again, your species selection along with its location will be the main determinate of the success of that diversion. Planting something deer have no intention of eating until late December will be of no comfort as the corn and soybeans get devoured in late summer.

Patriot LWM installed a mixture of clovers and chicory based on their perennial nature requiring minimum maintenance and also their high tolerance to deer pressure.   

For the purposes of our project, Patriot LWM  worked with the farmer and located a mutually beneficial site on the property. 15-30 feet of field edge bordering existing tree lines were donated to the “diversionary food plot fund”, another fact which raises eyebrows in an agricultural community hesitant to give up tillable acreage to the wildlife battle.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of this technique.           

Running the numbers:

Farmer:

  • Low yield in these sacrificed rows already due to deer damage on edges and shading under the “drip line” of trees
  • Reduced expenses on unused acreage
    • Seed
    • Fertilizer
    • Lime
    • Herbicide application
    • Fuel for equipment
    • Wear and tear on equipment striking trees
  • Hunters gladly supplement the cost of food plot installation for own benefit
  • Increased yield in the remaining acreage
  • Increases recreational lease value of the property

 Hunter:

  • Supplemental food source for improved health of deer population
  • Increased harvest opportunities
    • Creates harvest location along edges when normal standing crops would hinder harvest
    • Deer can be concentrated to particular areas for increased harvest
    • Brings deer to the “staging areas” near fields earlier allowing for more harvest opportunities before light expires
    • Keeps local deer populations on the property long after crops are harvested allowing hunters chances to increase harvest throughout the course of the regulated hunting season
    • Attracts deer from neighboring properties which may not have effective management programs to allow their harvest during daylight hours instead of them entering onto the property to feed outside huntable hours.
    • Provides space for hunter access to remove harvested deer while crops are up

In later blog entries we will take a closer look into the specific results of this project but initial findings are very positive. Diversionary food plots coupled with educated hunters practicing the principles of “Quality Deer Management” should be an option worth exploring for many landowners and farmers trying to win the war on deer damage. Stay tuned!