The urbanization of Wake County combined with ideal growing conditions for the deer herd and we got a problem. There is not many mornings especially this time of year that you don’t hear about an animal vs. car wreck on the local traffic report. As the land gets more developed there is less and less places to hunt. Hunting is the most viable method for controlling deer numbers.
Along with that growth, the number of collisions between deer and car crashes is also rising. Such accidents took place nearly 2,6000 times from 2003 to 2005, giving Wake County the highest number of deer wrecks in North Carolina.
Studies show that 90 percent of accidents involving animals include a deer. Since 2003, nearly 3,000 collisions with deer resulted in an injury, and 19 of those killed someone inside the vehicle. During that period, deer-related accidents also caused $104 million in property damage.
This is a nationwide problem and I suspect more and more pressure will be placed on state game departments by the insurance industry to reduce the deer herd. Iowa faced this issue last year
State wildlife officials said Tuesday that hunters have made a record dent in Iowa’s deer population.
A recently compiled deer hunting survey estimates 17,000 more whitetail deer — 210,000 — were killed during the fall and winter deer hunting seasons of 2005-2006 than in the previous season.
“This is one of those times that what we planned to accomplish and what happened were the same thing,” said deer biologist Willie Suchy with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
In the last few years, pressure from Iowa legislators prompted natural resources officials to increase the number of antlerless-only deer hunting licenses, targeted mostly at female deer, available. Legislators were responding to complaints from the state’s insurance industry and the public because of increased vehicle-deer accidents, and from farmers who said deer were destroying their crops.
In addition to the rapid development of land within Wake County the preservation of green ways and open spaces I believe is contributing to the problem. Wake County has aggressively pursued the preservation of open spaces which is a good thing.
Wake County was announced today as one of six winners of the second annual County Leadership in Conservation Awards, sponsored by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and National Association of Counties (NACo). Wake County Commissioners’ Chair Tony Gurley accepted the award on behalf of the County at the annual NACo Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
The awards recognize leadership, innovation, and excellence in local land conservation and park creation by county leaders across America. The County was honored for its Open Space Program, which, since 2000, has preserved 3,200 acres of open space.
“Wake County citizens favor maintaining a high quality of life even as we grow,” Gurley said. “We are proud that our citizens, towns and businesses agree on the value of preserving open space, greenways and watershed areas. Our community has shown its support of open space through cooperative planning, public bond financing, private sales and donations, and a passionate advocacy. This cooperation has resulted in preservation of 3,200 acres to date, with more planned in the future to keep Wake County a great place to live.”
In recent years, spurred by the news that the County is losing 27 acres of open space per day to development, Wake County voters have overwhelmingly supported bond referenda for open space. In 2000, 78 percent of Wake County voters authorized $15 million in general obligation bonds to launch the county’s Open Space Program. Four years later, voters approved an additional $26 million in bonds, toward the ultimate goal of preserving 30 percent, or 165,000 acres, of the county’s land as open space.
The problem is that much of this land is transferred into green ways and county parks that are very deer friendly and off limits to hunters. Open space spread out all around the county allow wildlife the cover they need to live in an urban setting. The answer to the urban deer problem is bow hunting and I hope that in the near future that the parks consider using this option.
Additional Reading Check out this article “Public Menace” in Audubon about the importance of hunting to control deer populations.