Tuesday, January 14, 2014

HSUS Investigates Shenandoah Nation Park Whitetail Collars-Calls For Photos

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is requesting that photographers send them recent photos of deer showing damage from the collars that are being used in the CWD study at SNP.  This will be somewhat difficult as most whitetail photographers do not travel to the park in winter and those that did are less inclined to do so since the study began, but I assume that photos taken during the past fall are wanted.

First a bit of history for first time readers and a re-fresher for  those who have been following the problem. In late August or early September of 2012, we learned about the CWD study at Shenandoah National Park from well known Virginia wildlife photographer, Larry W. Brown.  As a result of the study, most of the mature whitetail bucks in the Big Meadows area were fitted with radio collars.  This was initially discussed in the October 26, 2012 post, " Shenandoah Whitetails Under Assault" and followed up by Shenandoah Whitetails Under Assault Part II", on October 30, 2012. This post featured photos of  several collared bucks, which were taken by retired PGC Maintenance Supervisor Billie G. Cromwell. For those who want more background, I recommend that you read past posts and follow the links to material by Larry W. Brown and others.

Mature Buck With Collar Big Meadows Campground: 2012 Photo by Billie G. Cromwell
Fast forward to this year. After a mid-November trip to SNP, Billie Cromwell shared some of his photos that illustrated just how these collars negatively impact the deer.  This was discussed in the post of November 21, 2013, "Whitetail Photography at Shenandoah National Park-Destroyed For Now"  This post featured  the above photo and several of the buck in 2013, which showed  damage to the neck from the collar.

H2 in 2013: Photo Courtesy of Billie G. Cromwell
As a result of reading the series of posts, fellow photographer, Dan Gomola contacted the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) seeking a remedy to the situation. On December 5, 2013 Dan received a reply to his inquiry from Laura J. Simon a Wildlife Ecologist with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) thanking him for alerting the HSUS to the situation and promising to look into the matter.

Dan received a report from Ms.Simon on January 10, 2014, which is posted below.

Subject: RE: Shenandoah National Park deer

Hi Dan,

Sorry not to get back to you sooner on this situation!
On behalf of HSUS, I lodged a written complaint with the SNP
Superintendant's office about the deer being harmed by problematic
radio-collars. I spoke today to Jim Schaberl, who is the Chief of Natural
and Cultural Resources -- and the person overseeing the radio-telemetry

He said that some of the deer already had their radio collars fixed in
November and early December, but he also asked me to give him a list of all
problematic collars reported so he could check up on them. I gave him H-2,
F-2, V-7, C-7 and Y-7 (please let me know if there are any more). He thought
H-2 was from the Fall of 2012 and assured me it had been addressed
immediately at that time.

Mr. Schaberl also said that they were disappointed in the collars, that this
design had worked well for mule deer in a prior study done with the US
Geologic Survey, and based on that recommendation the NPS had ordered them
for the SNP study. He said the collars had performed well the first year,
but now some were turning out to be problematic --- they expand, but it
seems the area where they expand is not covered well, there's nothing
underneath, and that is what creates the rubbing and soring problems.
Overall, Mr. Schaberl seemed genuinely concerned about the problems caused
by these collars and anxious to fix them.

What would help is if you could post to the PA Photographers website, and
ask people to please send us and the SNP any recent photos ---- and of the
ones that have already been posted, it would be good to know the dates. It
would also be important to find out if these 5 deer are the only ones seen
with ill-fitting collars: H-2, F-2, V-7, C-7 and Y-7.

Thank you again for flagging this situation -- I will give you another update early next week.

Laura J. Simon
Wildlife Ecologist
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

I assume that photos are to be e-mailed to the humane society at the above address .

Shenandoah National Park's contact information as listed on their website is shown below, but upon opening the e-mail link I see no option to attach photos.

By Mail
Shenandoah National Park
3655 Hwy 211 East
Luray, VA 22835

 By E-mail
Shenandoah National Park

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill