Ok folks, we all knew it was coming but now that the newly formed Eastern Ontario Deer Advisory Committee (EODAC) have spelled it out in black in white, the deer situation in Eastern Ontario may be even more serious than expected.
A major cut-back is in order!
MNR data shows that deer densities in Eastern Ontario, once as high as 12 – 14 deer/KM2, plummeted to an average of 2.5 deer/KM2 in 2009 following two treacherous winters.
Hunters are advised to get their Antlerless Validation Tag (doe tag) applications in by the June 30th deadline for the 2010 deer hunt. Not only will there be fewer doe tags available this fall, there will be no additional seals issued for the Wildlife Management Units in south eastern Ontario.
In early May, MNR biologist Scott Smithers met with the recently formed Eastern Ontario Deer Advisory Committee (EODAC) to present data, share initial recommendations and solicit feedback. The EODAC is made up of about 20 members from eastern Ontario.
The membership includes hunters, farmers, former politicians, retailers, wildlife control agents, hunter safety instructors, conservation authority staff, stewardship councillors and members with ties to the naturalist community. The purpose of the EODAC is to encourage the responsible management of deer in eastern Ontario.
“I’ve received plenty of feedback from hunters concerned about low deer numbers”, said Smithers. “Our data confirms that deer numbers have dramatically declined in eastern Ontario. We find it most meaningful to use deer densities when discussing deer population trends”, explained Smithers. “Deer density refers to the average number of deer per square km (km2) of forested habitat within a WMU. Not all WMU’s are the same size, so deer density estimates are a better way to compare one WMU with another.
When deer populations were at their peak in eastern Ontario, deer densities got as high as 12 to 14 deer/km2 in suitable habitat. The 2009 data shows that deer densities have declined to an average of 2.5 deer/km2 in the WMU’s in eastern Ontario. Our target population is from 5 to 8 deer/km2. This target comes from the province’s Cervid Ecological Framework, a provincial policy document that guides the management of deer, moose and elk in Ontario.
“The EODAC unanimously agreed with MNR’s recommendation to reduce the number of doe tags for 2010”, said Larry Smith, vice chairman of EODAC. “I hunt deer an average of sixty days each fall and I am out in the woods many days year round”, added Smith. “There is no doubt that deer numbers have dropped dramatically. We see deer as a valuable natural resource. We estimate there is over forty million dollars in revenue generated by deer each year in eastern Ontario. We certainly would like to see an increase in the deer population. There are approximately 24,000 deer hunters in the Kemptville District”.
“What I like is that the MNR has a clear, well defined population target for deer”, said Bill Franklin, a member of the EODAC. “I love to hunt deer, but I also farm 400 acres near Alexandria. I grow soybeans and corn and the last thing we need is to allow deer numbers to get too high”. I can live with a modest increase, but I expect the MNR to use its management options, such as additional seals to keep the population within its projected target”.
The MNR uses data from deer hunter post card surveys, hunt camp surveys, winter snow data and herd reproductive rate as inputs into a deer computer model. Staff will be closely monitoring the population and the results from the 2010 hunt.