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2010-01-07 digital edition

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2010-01-07 / Community News

Urban Deer Issues

It is hard to believe that at one point the white tailed deer was on the verge of extinction. Today, it is one of the great success stories for wildlife conservation and management. The deer has always been something that most Texans marvel at. The deer holds such a great place in our society that Disney even made a couple of movies about it.

Today, even people that live in the big cities across Texas can marvel at these majestic animals. Since there are generally no major predators within these metropolitan areas, deer have found a safe haven to live in and grow into large numbers. Sometimes these numbers grow into what is called overabundance.

An overabundant deer herd can be described as one that has exceeded the capacity of the native plant community. Overabundant deer herds can result in concerns for the deer, for native plant communities, for urban landscapes and the health, safety and economic well being of local communities. Overabundant deer herds have deer-health problems such as starvation, increased number of parasites and more diseases.

An overabundant deer herd near large populations of people can cause concerns as well. When deer reach overabundant levels near a large population of people, nuisance conditions begin to set in. The most common issues are automobile accidents due to a deer collision, or when drivers try to avoid deer in the road. The other issue is the destruction to personal property. Deer have a habit of destroying young trees and shrubs with their antlers; as well as, eating prized roses and other plants that residents use to beautify their urban environment. On occasion deer have broken through glass doors during fall and winter months while exhibiting normal ‘competition’ behavior.

In the case of broad scale urban deer management, city governments and its officials must bear the burden of enacting any management protocols to help successfully manage its wildlife resources. Developers should also be aware of possible activities that can create an overabundant deer population or to lessen the impact of an existing problem. Both should consider that as a hunted big game animal, that all control measures must follow all the same game laws for white-tailed deer management.

Developers with large tracts of land or sub-divisions with large blocks of green space should consult with Texas Parks & Wildlife agents in the development design stage to maximize deer control options should they be needed. Deed restrictions should not be put in place that restricts future control efforts. It would be helpful to consider deer management measures in deed restrictions such as limiting deer feeding.

Homeowners looking to buy property that are concerned about overabundant deer should talk to the developer, real estate agent, or local wildlife biologist about possible deer overabundance. Homeowners with wild deer in their area should not feed them with corn or other supplemental feed. Supplemental feed will only increase the number of deer in the neighborhood. It will also stop some deer from moving on when food sources become scarce. If possible, limit movement of deer into areas with high fencing. The best height is eight feet or taller.

As residents of this great state, we are all responsible for our actions when it comes to wildlife. Seek help from Texas Parks and Wildlife agents in your area when it comes to nuisance wildlife issues. Thoughtful proactive management of overabundant deer in urban settings can help ensure that white-tailed deer are always viewed in a positive light.

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