Ball State University professor’s project shows more whitetail fawns are surviving in urban settings than in rural. The reason? Fewer coyotes.
If you noticed Ohio’s proposed whitetail deer hunting regulations for next season show the only 4-deer bag limit counties are in and around Ohio’s largest urban counties: Franklin, Delaware, Cuyahoga, Summit, Hamilton and Lucas.
Interestingly, Montgomery is not in that group; it falls in the 2-deer bag limit.
It’s held true for many years, urban counties have the largest concentrations of deer and motor vehicles in the state. And that’s not a good combination. So the urban deer populations need to be thinned, since it’s not likely the motor vehicle numbers will be.
There is another reason why deer seem to thrive in urban settings: fewer predators. A study by Ball State University researcher Tim Carter, a biology professor, shows young deer are more than twice as likely to survive in an urbanized area as compared to rural.
For the 2013-14 project, 119 fawns were fitted with expandable radio collars, using telemetry to locate the animals and determine their survival rates.
In rural areas, hungry coyotes caused 92 percent of the deaths of eight-week-old fawns. In urban areas, vehicle collision was the leading cause of death of young deer at about 17 percent.
“We were very surprised by the sheer number of fawns able to reach adulthood in an urban area than in rural areas,” Carter said. “If it seems like everywhere you turn there is a deer, it’s because they are surviving at very high rates. But that is because of a variety of reasons, including fewer predators and the lack of hunting (many urban areas are closed to hunting).”
Carter likened the growing deer population to a ticking time bomb due to increased interactions with humans, including property and vehicle damage.
Carter’s report pointed to the recent State Farm Insurance Company report that the current odds of a U.S. motorist hitting a deer, elk or moose are 1 in 169. The crashes have become more expensive, averaging more than $4,100 per claim, up 6 percent from last year, according to the insurance firm.
“Simply, the deer are having young ones that are able to survive in large numbers and then breed in a never-ending cycle,” Carter said. “The numbers of white-tailed deer will expand at a high rate unless such communities manage to control the populations. It is already a hot topic because many people are tired of dealing with the animals that seem to be everywhere and causing problems.”
Carter’s study can be found at deerstudy.iweb.bsu.edu.
The proposed daily bag limits map for Ohio’s 88 counties can be found at wildohio.gov.
Annual Rainbow Trout Releases Set
More than 100,000 rainbow trout are expected to be released this spring in 64 Ohio public lakes and ponds, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The first rainbow trout release is scheduled for March 11 at Adams Lake in Adams County.
The rest of the schedule for releases in southwest Ohio: March 18 Rush Run Lake, March 31 Sycamore State Park, April 2 Rocky Fork Lake, April 6 Clark Lake and April 9 Stonelick Lake.
The trout are raised at state fish hatcheries and measure 10-13 inches before they are released. The daily catch limit is five. The releases at Rocky Fork and Stonelick lakes will start with youth-only fishing.
The release schedule may be changed by weather conditions, especially ice on lakes. To check on a date or time, call (800) WILDLIFE.
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