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Early try at shrinking deer population deemed a success

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

Participants in Front Royal's first organized attempt to limit its booming deer population through bow hunting are calling their effort a success.

A one-month trial ended March 31 with 25 deer killed by archers with Suburban White Tail Management of Northern Virginia, Inc., a non-profit deer management and culling organization authorized by the town council. Whit Wagner, one of Suburban White Tail's leaders, said he is optimistic that the group will conduct an expanded effort in September when hunting may resume under terms of a state-issued permit.

Wagner said eight archers from Suburban Whitetail zeroed in on the Leach Run stream valley area and achieved their initial goal of killing 10 deer in the first week. After that, they reset the goal to 20.

"We ended up with 25, which really put a dent in the Leach Run area," Wagner said.

Suburban Whitetail serves as an agent for the Police Department and town manager, which administer the deer management program under a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Gaming and Inland Fisheries. Police Lt. Clint Keller, who was one of Suburban Whitetails bow hunters and an organizer of the program, said he was also pleased with the early results.

"It was excellent," Keller said. "I was really surprised at the community support for the program, and how they accepted it and took it under the wings."

The clients included 28 landowners who asked the town and Suburban Whitetail for help in ridding their property of deer. Wagner, who is Suburban Whitetail's western counties coordinator, said six of the 28 properties were deemed unsuitable for hunting but are still available for tracking and retrieving downed deer that were shot on neighbors' land.

Suburban Whitetail's archers reach agreements with property owners on the conditions under which they will hunt deer. On the appointed day and time, the archers take their place in perches 12 to 20 high feet in trees and wait for deer to come into range, Wagner said.

"We have to shoot down rather than out so we can recover our arrows," Wagner said.

He said the Leach Run neighborhood was overrun before the archers arrived. The 25 deer killed were only a small part of a total of 346 the archers counted on the properties they hunted, Wagner said.

"We actually saw deer bedding in a carport," Wagner said. "We never saw them again after we started hunting. Once we started hunting, they went back into their natural environment."

Keller said the deer population is in no danger of running out of food sources, but the high numbers constitute a nuisance to town residents "who don't want their flowers eaten" or the traffic hazards posed by wandering animals.

"We can feed a lot of deer in town, but how much do people living here want to deal with the property damage to their shrubs and vehicles?" Keller said.

Wagner said the deer also pose a risk of transmitting lyme disease through ticks that come into contact with humans.

Most of the deer killed by the bow hunters were given to a statewide charity that processes venison and distributes it to needy households, Wagner said.

Keller said local archers are still needed to help Suburban Whitetail for the next round
of hunting in September. Those wishing to join the organization must be at least 18 years old; have previous big game bow hunting experience; have completed several bow hunter courses; and pass a shooting proficiency test. Other requirements also must be met.

Property owners seeking Suburban Whitetail's services or bow hunters wishing to join can learn more by visiting the organization's website at www.deerdamage.com or the town's website at www.frontroyalva.com.


"Other requirements also must be met" yes, the joy of killing. If people were not moving into the Natural environment and crowding out all of the wildlife, there would be no problem.

Just keep expanding. Who needs these annoying animals anyway? Oh yes, man does for sport, entertainment, food, exploitation etc., etc., etc. and the most of all for the fun of it. It's called a "sport".

Never fear your system is well established. . .

While I am in no way a proponent for hunting, the deer in our area are so overpopulated they are starving, and I think I'd rather see them killed than starve to death. The ironic thing is that one of the reasons so many are coming into our town is because they are starving in the National Park where they are protected, not because we have intruded on their territory. We are having the same problem with the bears. A small brear has become very destructive in our neighborhood - breaking through our (cracked) car windshield and, last night, crawling onto my screened-in enclosed back porch. The problem is he appears to be a cub that we have seen with his mother for about two years. Now the mother has left, and the only thing she taught him was how to "forage" in our trash cans, so I don't think he would survive in the wild at this point. I love these animals, but something unfortunately needs to be done to protect them as well as our pets and humans (I have 4 grandchildren who are afraid to step outside the house now). Just saying they were here first is not an answer. We aren't all going to move out. We think the bear last night got hurt jumping off our deck. What do we do about that? I've contacted the police, the Town Council, a wildlife biologist, and am not getting any answers.

So, Diana,.....where do YOU live? In a hollow tree? Do you realize how many animals you have misplaced in spite of your self-rightious, pseudo-superior, back-patting attitude? Are you aware that you contributed to the demise of several ancient family bonds being crushed out of existence, because YOU felt the need to move into a HOUSE?
Do you have ANY idea how disruptive YOUR daily consumption needs are to the natural world around you? DO YOU?
There's only one solution if you want to stand on a platform and preach "justice" for "mother nature"......remove yourself from the picture. I'd suggest moving to NY city; goodbye and bon voyage.


While you're no proponent of hunting (and that's fine, of course), you're on the cusp of recognizing the actual problem, which is, "preservation" vs "conservation".
In preservation, the idea is to maintain the natural order of the ecosystem without interference. Thus, wildlife rolls through natural cycles of expansion, explosion and collapse (destruction and death through starvation and disease). Folks like Diana - whether she realizes it or not - are proponents of that cycle.

Conservation, on the other hand, promotes a healthy balance of the given environment through the utilization of hunting, trapping (live and relocated), as well as other forms of management/husbandry.

To compare results of the two models, google up deer in Kiabab National Forest, Arizona, or rabbits in Austrailia.

Anyway, when you throw human civilization into the mix, things get a bit more complex....as you can see. Especially when you border a preserve.

Regardless, SWMNV hands the majority of the resulting meat to the homeless, the needy (institutional or not), and you sure can't find fault with that.
So, I say good for them, well done and thank you!

Oh, by the way, I discovered that the address given was incorrect. It's actually (www.deerdamage.ORG).

Have a lovely day and enjoy your flowers, all.

Before man took over the environment, what we call wildlife was controlled by natural predators and, yes, even starvation and disease. The predators have moved out and the humans provide a protected area for the deer to live and reproduce without fear of being killed or eaten.

If you have a garden and plant seeds, you always have to thin the seedlings so that the remaining plants will be stronger and healthier. As long as we are going to take control of the environment, then we have a responsibility to take GOOD care of it. Sometimes that means thinning the herd.

The deer population in town is NOT natural.

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