Delaware to Conduct Managed Deer Hunt
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife in conjunction with the New Castle County Department of Special Services will be conducting a managed deer hunt on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19, in the Middle Run Valley Natural Area Park near Newark. For safety reasons, the park will be closed to public access on the days of the hunt.
Due to increased development and subsequent wildlife habitat loss in northern New Castle County, the number of human/deer conflicts has risen over recent years, and the need for deer population control in this region is greatly warranted. In December 2005, the Division conducted an infrared aerial survey to determine the statewide deer population. Deer Management Zone 1, which consists of New Castle County north of the C&D Canal, had the highest deer density in the state, 145.4 deer per square mile of deer habitat.
Problems associated with an overabundant deer population in urban landscapes include: increased deer/vehicle collisions; damage to ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens; increased incidence of diseases such as Lyme disease; longer or unnatural deer breeding and fawning seasons; and unhealthy deer population due to food shortages and stress induced problems from unnaturally high deer densities. In addition, areas with high deer populations can suffer environmental degradation due to over browsing, which can have negative impacts on the mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian communities that require the understory for survival.
Many residents have been using non-lethal techniques such as chemical repellents, scarecrows, noise making devices and fences to prevent deer damage to their trees, shrubs, and gardens. With varying degrees of success, these techniques may reduce deer damage in the short term but they are costly and do nothing to solve the problem of an overabundant deer population.
Currently, there isn't an acceptable immunocontraceptive drug that will reduce or prevent pregnancy in deer. Further, the current drugs being tested are only authorized for research purposes. The Division has always supported hunting as a deer population control technique and the harvest of female deer during the hunt will help to reduce the population and thus alleviate some human/deer conflicts.
To ensure the event is conducted with the highest possible concern for public safety, the Division has elected to only use Certified Master Hunters, all of whom have been pre-selected, as hunt participants. To become a Certified Master Hunter an individual must have attended and successfully completed the Delaware Master Hunter Conservation Module of Instruction. The course covers a broad range of subjects such as public attitudes on hunting, wildlife management and conservation, Delaware hunting heritage, fair chase hunting, quality deer management, current controversial issues and hunter/private landowner relations. He or she must also have attended two other educational/safety classes and passed a criminal history background check.
The harvest of female deer will be the emphasis of the managed hunt. All hunters will be allowed to harvest antlerless deer but a random few will selected on the morning of the hunt for the opportunity to harvest an antlered deer.
In an effort to increase the overall harvest, successful hunters will be encouraged to donate extra venison to the Delaware Sportsman Against Hunger Program, which was formed in 1992 by a coalition of sporting groups with DNREC as the primary sponsor. Last year, more than 30,000 pounds of venison were donated, providing more than 120,000 meals for the hungry.
"Delaware's hunters have been willing to share their good fortune with others," said Greg Moore, Wildlife Administrator with the Division of Fish and Wildlife. "Over the past 13 years, the program has provided more than 800,000 nutritious meals for needy Delawareans. We are most grateful to hunters for helping fight hunger in our state, and we encourage them to participate again this season."
For more information or questions regarding the managed hunt or any other deer issue, please contact Joe Rogerson, Fish and Wildlife Game Mammal Biologist, at 302-653-2883.
For questions regarding the Middle Run Valley Natural Area Park property, please contact Jonathan Husband, New Castle County Engineering & Environmental Services Manager, at 302-395-5746.