Myths: Hunting increases car vs. deer accidents; Controls deer population

On 13News tonight we have the opening-weekend forecast for deer hunting (gun) season in Wisconsin. I immediately thought of the increase in number of car versus deer accidents this time of year because deer are scared out of their habitat. Indeed, there is a spike in accidents this time of year, however it may occur more because of deer mating practices. According to the Maryland DNR, deer rarely leave their home territory until late fall when deer begin going farther from their homes in search of a mate. This is thought to be the major cause in the up-tick of deer versus car accidents.

Most of us also believe that hunting is effective in controlling the deer population, which goes on to reduce the number of car versus deer accidents. This also may not be an accurate argument because most hunters are out to score the big buck (trophy hunting). The population of bucks decreases as they are hunted, sure. But there remains the same number of does able to bear fawns. And it takes only one buck to breed with many does.

For the population of deer to be controlled, the ratio of deer killed should be 50/50, male/female. Even though some states now require hunters to go after equal numbers of bucks and does, oftentimes antler-less bucks are mistaken for does. Here in Illinois, Dr. Paul Shelton, the state DNR Forest Wildlife manager said in 1999 “we’re not taking as many does as we should be.”

In all likelihood, the population of deer isn’t lowered by hunting. Instead, the decrease in competition for food may cause overpopulation because it makes it easier for does and fawns to find food in the spring.

According to this graph from the Wisconsin DNR, (click to enlarge) the number of deer harvested during hunting season does not effectively control the population of deer.

To effectively control the population of deer, we must control their habitat more or stop moving into theirs.-ES

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Posted under event, news, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on November 16, 2011

7 Comments so far

  1. Debbie` November 16, 2011 8:18 PM

    I think we need to stop moving into their habitats. The wildlife adapt well to the suburbs that spring up.

    We had to drive our horses out of our back field and our woods because of shotgun this weekend. We can’t even take a walk in our woods this time of year.

    I know alot of responsible hunters and they’re good conservationists too. But alot of amateurs go out this weekend and will basically shoot at anything that moves..not taking into account where they’re shooting and what direction their bullet will take.

    There is alot of deer, alot of coyotes, alot of raccoons, alot of possums and because all the natural predators are gone..we have to control the numbers by hunting or they face a long, suffering death by starvation and disease. I just think it should be harder to get a hunting license..so the responsible hunters can hunt and the amateurs “trophy hunters” have to pass some safety classes and conservation classes before they head out to the woods and fields.

    Hunting should be done with respect for the wildlife and not have the trophy mentality.
    A good hunter is a good, responsible and safe conservationist.

    Off my soap box.

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  7. Adopted*Only*Child November 7, 2012 11:19 AM

    When are people going to learn that HUMAN overpopulation is the problem. More people = more houses = more buidings built = less land for the deer = deer run from the concrete into your headlights. Stop breeding and start adopting.

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