Deer Population

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Since the 19th century, populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), have been steadily increasing. This increase in population has caused many people to consider various ways to keep the deer populations in control (Brown et al. 2000). Despite record harvest rates and many unrestricted hunting laws, white-tailed deer are very abundant in many regions of the United States (Rawinski 2008). For example, the range of the white-tailed deer has expanded to include offshore islands, such as Block Island, RI, where 7 deer introduced in 1967 grew to a herd of 700 deer by 1994 (Rawinski 2008). In the early 20th century, strict restrictions on deer hunting were followed by meticulous hunting that was designed to increase the health and …show more content…
2000). New methods must be put in place to control the white-tailed deer populations, especially in temperate forest-rich regions such as the Eastern United States. Before colonial times in America, white-tailed deer populations maintained sustainable population across the eastern United States due to habitat restriction in with vast stretches of temperate forest, a healthy predator population, and Native American deer management (NYS DEC 2011). During colonial times, unrestricted hunting and extensive deforestation with rapid settlement led to a severe decrease in deer populations across the country (Klepeis et al. 2012). Because of this, national laws were put in place to restrict deer hunting. Which in turn, restocked areas of low deer densities, and encouraged the hunting of natural predators, which now resulted in an exponential increase of deer populations. In the present, we experience populations of deer that are well above their habitat’s carrying capacity, which leads to overpopulation. The eastern regions of the US experience most of the effects of deer overpopulation. Deer play major roles in the cycling of certain diseases that can infect humans. Humans can contract disease directly from deer through contact with excretions, and/or by eating raw or undercooked venison (CDC 2012a). Brucellosis is an infection that causes flu-like symptoms and can be cured in a few weeks up to several months, but in less than 2% of cases, death occurs. Because of the species’ high reproductive rate, their population density is also very high. At high densities, deer are more likely to be underweight and have slow antler development, which indicates poor health. Tilghman (1989) reported that deer starved to death during winter at densities as low as 7.7 deer/km2 in northwestern

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