ARLINGTON, Va. and ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Everyone enjoys seeing a spotted fawn in the woods, but the precipitous increase of U.S. white-tailed deer populations over the last 50 years has led to animal-human interactions that are not healthy for deer or people.
Today, Cornell University and The Nature Conservancy launched Community Deer Advisor, a free online resource for communities seeking information about managing overabundant deer populations. The tool connects communities with science-based resources and allows them to learn best practices from wildlife experts, agencies, academics, and each other in order to develop a deer management program tailored to their situation.
Present in all 48 states in the continental U.S., white-tailed deer populations reached an all-time high of more than 30 million in the last decade. In many places, they have benefited from an abundance of easily-acquired food in forests, farm fields and, increasingly, in homeowners' yards and gardens. As deer numbers have increased, so have conflicts between people and deer. For example:
- More than one million deer-vehicle collisions annually, including, on average, 200 fatalities and $4 billion in damages.
- The number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease has doubled and Rocky Mountain spotted fever has quadrupled in the last 20 years. Deer provide both food for the feeding of ticks and act as vectors for tick-borne diseases.
- Protecting young tree seedlings from deer browsing can triple planting costs.
"The best solutions to deer-related problems will vary from place to place. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription that will work perfectly in every situation, so leaders and citizens in each community will need to work through a process to find the best way forward for them. That can seem daunting at first, but a little guidance can help overcome these challenges. We are offering a process that helps communities figure out the best deer management options for their local situation," says Dr. Daniel J. Decker, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University who specializes in the human dimensions of wildlife management.
Here's what communities will find on the site:
- A "Deer Management 101" section for local public administrators and committees to familiarize themselves with the basics of community-based deer management.
- A useful process for thinking through how to manage deer in a community and how to communicate with city/town/county administrators and community members to assess the need for deer management.
- Examples showing how more than 150 communities across the U.S., in various stages of deer management, are working to restore the balance between deer and the landscape.
- An opportunity for communities to share their own deer management stories.
- A list of organizations that provide assistance or services to communities involved in deer management planning.
- Links to a selection of articles, documents and management guides that other communities have found useful in shaping their deer management programs.
"It is inspiring to see how communities are sitting down, rolling up their sleeves and creating local solutions to deer-related problems. Deer impacts can be severe, and the problem can seem insurmountable at first, but increasingly communities are feeling empowered to engage with wildlife agencies to get results," says Meredith Cornett, a conservation biologist who has studied the impact of deer on northern forests, and Nature Conservancy science director in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Go to www.deeradvisor.org to find the resources you need to work with others to restore the balance between deer and natural landscapes and make your community a healthier, safer place to live—for both deer and people.
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SOURCE The Nature Conservancy