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White-tailed Deer Damage Management in a Forested High-Density Residential Community

  • Author(s): D’Angelo, Gino J.
  • Wenner, Willard L.
  • Keegan, Marian S.
  • et al.
Abstract

Hemlock Farms Community Association (HFCA) is a >4,500-acre private, gated community located in Pike County, Pennsylvania, established in the 1960s. During our study, 3,150 homes existed in HFCA, with 400 more homes expected to be built in the future. In recent years, the community took proactive steps to coexist with white-tailed deer in the community. Residents were fully involved in deer management decision making early in the process. Through the Pennsylvania Game Commission Deer Management Assistance Program, HFCA has allowed hunting by residents in undeveloped areas of the community to assist in reducing and maintaining deer densities. Non-lethal techniques to prevent browsing of the forest understory and landscape vegetation by deerother than fencingwere ineffective. U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services was consulted in 2005 by HFCA to initiate an integrated white-tailed deer damage management program to reduce damage to forest regeneration and landscaping, and to protect human health and safety. In October 2005, we began lethal deer removal via sharpshooting to reduce the deer population to 10 deer per square mile of forested habitat (50 deer) from an estimated =125 deer per square mile of forested habitat. By winter 2009-2010, we removed a total of 830 deer, bringing the population within the management goals of the community. The forest understory rebounded, deer-vehicle collisions were reduced to an annual level of near zero. Physiological indices suggested that the health of deer improved as population densities were decreased. Residents voted annually on a referendum to continue culling of deer. Therefore, monitoring of the deer population and education of residents will remain important components of the deer management regime.

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