Saturday, April 16, 2011

Camera Critters: Whitetail Deer: The Survivor

Gazing deeply into the eye of this wily Whitetail doe, one can sense the extreme alertness and intelligence that has kept her alive for almost nine years. She has raised several young bucks that are all gone now, yet she remains. Some of her fawns were shot by "thrill killers", wildlife criminals  who drive the roads late at night, locating deer with spotlights and shooting them just to watch them fall.

Whitetail Doe-A Veteran Survivor
Most of the buck fawns she has had through the years, grew into adults ,dispersed and were likely taken in hunting season. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs that only one of the more than nine fawns she has had is still alive today.

Studies have shown that many if not most whitetail bucks disperse from their home range in the first autumn that they have antlers, which usually means when they are slightly less than 1 1/2 years old. If they do not do so then they usually disperse the following May, assuming they survive the fall hunting season,

Whitetail Buck With New Antler Growth In Mid-April
In rare cases they may remain in their home range past two years of age, but this is very unusual.  Does usually spend their entire life in the general area where they were born.  They may disperse short distances during fawning time and during the summer, but will often rejoin the main herd sometime during the autumn.  When one sees a large herd of deer they are usually looking at an extended family group, with all of the animals tracing their lineage to a doe that is at the top of the pecking order.  She is deferred to by the rest of the herd and performs the function of "lead doe".  In some cases an extremely large herd of deer may be a collection of these extended family groups.

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Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PGC Targets Winslow Hill Elk Herd

April 12, 2011

Release #045-11


HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for 2011-12, including big and small game seasons and furbearer seasons.

The Board also adopted antlerless deer license allocations for the 22 Wildlife Management Units, and are listed in the article below.

For those unable to view the webcasts, a three-part “on-demand” video recording of the staff reports from April 11 and today’s Board actions can be viewed by going to/pennsylvaniagamecommission and clicking on the “April 2011 Board Meeting” icon.

The remainder of the News Release 045-11 gives a detailed summation of seasons and bag limits, which may be read by clicking here: Release 045-11.

The following is an article and commentary by me, describing the discussion of the elk situation on the Webcast as I understood it.

Winlsow Hill Herd To Be Targeted: Photo by W.Hill
A very small portion of the April 11th webcast concerns the Pennsylvania elk herd. According to Dr. Chris Rosenberry the elk herd is increasing overall, and is stable in some areas, but the Winslow Hill herd is the largest sub-herd and it has increased the most of any since last year. As a result the PGC has recommended that the harvest in Hunt Zone 2 be doubled from last year's allocation. This year 12 cows and 4 bulls, YES FOUR Bulls, will be legal targets near the viewing areas on Winslow Hill. This of course does not count the Governor's Conservation Tag bull, which of course can be taken there also ,for a total of 5 Yes Five possible bulls killed in the center of elk  related tourism.  It is unclear at this point if this recommendation was finalized at this meeting.To underscore the importance of the Pennsylvania Elk Herd to the PGC,  Rosenberry's elk presentation was an astonishing 1 min. 35 seconds long, before he moved on to the deer.

If approved,  this leads one to question just what level of commitment the PGC does have to elk related tourism on Winslow Hill.  Why double the number of bull permits in this area to control the population?  One can be certain that it will not be raghorns that will be killed!

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill