• Survey Shows Deer Overpopulation in Short Hills

    Survey Shows Deer Overpopulation in Short HillsOver the past winter, Ontario Parks conducted aerial surveys of Short Hills Provincial Park to track the number of deer living in the area. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Short Hills Provincial Park can handle 45 to 50 deer, a small amount compared to the 296 recorded (plus an additional 164 nearby). By fall 2014, this could grow to 541 deer living within the park’s immediate vicinity.

    Issues with Overpopulation

    Although deer overpopulation may not seem like the biggest worry, the situation does pose several problems. First, too many deer leads to over-browsing, behaviour that can change the natural plant patterns of an area and significantly damage agricultural practice. Since deer are territorial, they tend to feed in specific areas, eating only the indigenous plants. When such areas are stripped clean, deer typically starve instead of migrating. Come winter, this could mean an increased mortality rate.

    Another common problem with deer overpopulation is the spread of bovine tuberculosis, a pervasive virus in crowded environments. Other diseases spread easily in close quarters as well, particularly near feeding stations. In regards to fatality, overpopulation tends to lend itself to increased car collisions and illegal hunting, both of which endanger the suburban communities surrounding Short Hills.

    Dealing with the Deer

    Currently, three solutions are in play: hunting, relocation, and reproductive control. It seems that the general preference is relocation, though this can be expensive and potentially fatal. As Robin Zavitz, a member of the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance, suggests, it is necessary to conduct a full environmental assessment before acting. This too, however, can be a costly, lengthy ordeal.

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