In support of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Pete Thomas Outdoors, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly California Outdoors Q&A column:
Question: I live in the Christian Valley area above Auburn. The deer are overpopulated but they are protected in the area. The deer are starving and eat everything in sight. I’ve bought deer-resistant plants and cover them at night, but then they rip off the covering and devour my plants. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars to try to keep plants on my property. I’ve even bought coyote packets to scare them away, but they tear them off and go right by them. I try to chase these deer away but they are so domesticated now that they have charged me and kicked my dog. I need help! How can I get Fish and Wildlife to transfer the deer to a higher location? I love animals but the deer here are destroying all I’ve put out. (Mary N., Auburn)
Answer: Unfortunately, because most of the deer in your area are migratory, moving them up the hill won’t help as they will soon be moving back because of snow and forage availability anyway. More than that though, according to Game Species Conservation Program Manager Craig Stowers, it is the policy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to not move depredating deer. There are several reasons for this:
1) Several studies (including one of our own) have indicated the survival rates for these animals are extremely low.
2) The benefits from all wildlife captures must be weighed against the risks of injury/death to the individual animals and personnel involved. Since the survival rates are so low in these instances, the benefits most definitely do not outweigh the risks.
3) There is a very real potential for introducing new diseases and/or parasites when moving animals from one area to another without health testing, and the only way that can effectively be done is through a quarantine process. Unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities for that and couldn’t take care of the deer long enough for test results to come back.
4) Physical deterrence is the only proven long-term solution (fencing or some type of barrier). Even if we could move a large number of deer, there are others which would eventually move in to replace them.
As California becomes more urbanized, these types of problems will continue to increase in frequency. Traditional methods of managing wildlife populations are becoming increasingly unavailable to us, primarily because of public safety issues and changing societal values. CDFW has implemented a pilot project in the San Jose area to address a very similar problem and we are hopeful it can turn into something we can use in the future as these problems are only going to continue.
Q: Are cotton breakaway lines required on sport Dungeness crab pots? (Clinton M., Petaluma)