BY LIAN MLODZIENSKI
Assistant News Editor
Odocoileus virginianus, the white-tailed deer, is a species native to the Poconos and is also found in regions as far north as southern Canada and as far south as South America.
It is the smallest member of the North American deer family.
During the summer, the white-tailed deer can usually be seen in fields and meadows. As winter sets in, they will migrate to forests such as the Poconos to escape the weather.
In the summer months these deer have a reddish-brown coat, which fades to a grayish-brown in the winter.
Bucks, or male deer, can be recognized by their antlers. Does, their female counterparts, lack these antlers.
Young fawns, baby deer, have a reddish-brown coat with white spots that help them to blend into the environment.
The white-tailed deer is an herbivore and will eat most available plant life. They can digest leaves, twigs, fruits, grass, alfalfa, lichens, and other fungi.
They are most active at night, making them nocturnal, but they can often be found browsing around dawn and dusk.
With the lack of snow in prior years, the deer were able to find food easily and so their populations have grown.
Natural predators to the deer include bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. A new predator to deer is man.
At one point, deer were hunted almost to depletion, but stricter game-management laws have put a stop to that.
Now the deer population is on the rise. Some natural predators have been eliminated from certain areas.
People developing housing communities have taken over the territory of the deer and their predators. Recently, there has been some public concern due to the increase in the deer population.
These concerns include crop damage, landscaping damage, and deer-related car collisions. Some people are troubled by the potential transmission of Lyme disease and the effect of a higher deer population on other wildlife species.
Many people in deer-abundant communities are taking a variety of measures to manage the deer population in their areas.
Some have put up an assortment of fences made from different materials and of variable heights. There are also sprays that can be used to keep the deer away from garden plants.
In Saw Creek Estates, a private community in the Poconos, a USDA sharpshooter team was contracted in order to reduce the numbers in the local deer population.
The deer were to be killed as part of a controlled hunt, and then professionally processed and packaged for consumption. After this, the packages were to be given out to needy families in Saw Creek and the surrounding area.
However, recent petitions have postponed this controlled hunt.
In order to stop this from happening, 200 signatures were needed. The petition has received more than 600 signatures.
In a deer-management fact sheet developed by Saw Creek Estates, other options were listed as well.
Some of these were taking no action, trying a non-lethal management approach, trapping and transferring the animals, and possible fertility control.
In March, there will be a meeting in Saw Creek Estates to discuss what to do with the overabundant deer population.
Communities will weigh the pros and cons of different measures in order to take control of the white-tailed deer population.
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