Delaware has Successful Managed Deer Hunt

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DNREC'S Division of Fish and Wildlife in conjunction with the New Castle County Department of Special Services conducted a managed deer hunt on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19 in the Middle Run Valley Natural Area Park near Newark.

The hunt was held for the purpose of reducing deer numbers at the park for the benefit of citizens, local farmers, and the natural ecosystem. 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.

Thirty-eight certified master hunters participated and harvested 49 deer during the two-day hunt. Venison from more than 60% of the deer harvested was donated by hunters to Delaware's Sportsmen Against Hunger Program.

"Hunters donated more than 850 pounds of venison that will provide 3,400 meals for needy Delawareans," said Joe Rogerson, game mammal biologist with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. "The Delaware Sportsmen Against Hunger Program distributes donated venison to 21 charities throughout the state. The venison from this hunt will help exceed our total of 30,000 pounds, the amount of venison donated to charities last year."

In recent years, increased residential and commercial development and the subsequent loss of wildlife habitat in northern New Castle County have increased the number of deer/vehicle collisions and the need for deer population control in this region. In addition to the increase in human/deer conflicts, an overabundant deer population in urban areas causes a multitude of problems, including damage to residential trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens; an increased incidence of Lyme disease; damage to crops and the environment; and negative impacts to the habitats of other wildlife.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife has developed several initiatives to respond to Delaware's increasing deer population including a series of regulatory changes designed to stabilize the size of the deer herd. In addition a deer damage assistance program has been available since the mid-1990s to help landowners and farmers manage overabundant deer populations through the vegetative habitat buffer and contact repellant programs. The Delaware Quality Deer Management Program unites landowners, hunters, managers and citizens with the goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social and legal constraints.

For more information or questions regarding the managed hunt or any other deer issue, contact Joe Rogerson, Fish and Wildlife Game Mammal Biologist, at 302-653-2883. For programs that protect and manage wildlife and fish habitats and resources, visit DNREC’s web site, www.dnrec.delaware.gov.

For questions regarding the Middle Run Valley Natural Area Park, please contact Jonathan Husband, New Castle County Engineering & Environmental Services Manager, at 302-395-5746.