Breaking down the problem with deer management

When a story about deer makes headlines, it is most often covering a proposed change in deer management policy. Media has framed the issue of deer management and the people it effects as a conflict, either too many deer related car accidents or creating new ways to cull deer implementing both lethal and non-lethal strategies. Some times an article portraying deer in a positive spotlight will appear, but most likely will not make headlines. A recent news article out of Cleveland, OH reported that there are 37 deer per square mile in a total of eight suburbs using aerial observations.

Deer in Cleveland suburb

Media often use the increase of white tail deer in Eastern United States as the main cause for the degradation of forests. Deer are portrayed as being an even bigger threat then climate change. Not only are they a threat to the forest, but they also carry diseases such as chronic wasting disease and lyme disease.

Deer with CWD
Image courtesy of ‘Passport to Texas’

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.” —Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

Occasionally deer are portrayed as a positive attribute to their environment. Scientists and volunteers are currently sampling random deer in Wyoming during the red desert-to-Hoback migration. Conservationists are hoping to set a new precedent for protecting future wildlife migration routes.

Image courtesy of ‘New York Times’

Another negative way media frames deer is in reduced populations for certain species such as Mule deer of the Western United States. The media focuses on predation, car collisions, harsh winters followed by drought, and development of essential deer habitat as causes for the decreased deer population in certain areas, mainly Colorado. Most articles related to the decrease of mule deer take on a doom and gloom approach when reaching their audience. 

Deer populations in Colorado
Image courtesy of ‘The Denver Post’                                    

One thought on “Breaking down the problem with deer management

  1. It’s really interesting to have a better picture of what the deer populations are like around the country. I can definitely relate to deer overpopulation because where I’m from in New Jersey, the deer populations have gotten completely out of hand, there are few days I go without seeing a group of deer. Our town spent a lot of money hiring hunters to cull the deer populations, but their efforts seemed like only a drop in the bucket. All gardens have to have protective fencing around them to stand a chance against the deer. It’s interesting to consider the different approaches one could use to analyze deer populations. There seem to be dead deer all over the roads and highways. In colorado I haven’t really seen as many deer. Really any deer come to think about it. I wonder if that’s caused by the sheer population here or the food source and predators in the area. All in all, decent post thought it would’ve been great to see a bit more of a substantive analysis on deer populations nationwide.

    Jamison Wilson


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