Deer Control Plan For CVNP Nears Implementation

White tailed deer photographed by flickr.com's Conrad Kulper.
White tailed deer photographed by flickr.com's Conrad Kulper.
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Outside the Boston Store vistor’s center, Lisa Petit trudges through a muddy, reedy area where the white-tailed deer population is most highly concentrated. She’s Chief of Resource Management.

At a clearing with stunted grasses and dead trees, she pauses and reflects on a morbid discovery made nearly 10 years ago.

“Dozens of deer had perished right in the spot where they had laid down, and their stomachs were full of low quality grasses and low quality food," says Petit. "They were desperate.”

The area’s vegetation was overgrazed, owing to the large deer population. Ideally, a square mile within Cuyahoga Valley National Park should have 15 to 30 deer, today it’s closer to 40.

Next, Petit shows off a patch of woods contained within a 10 yard by 10 yard fence. Known as an “exclosure”, she says it demonstrates what growth would be like without the overpopulation of foraging deer.

“Native tree seedlings are getting taller inside the fence. Outside they’re not growing at all, they’re kept at a very short height.”

The $4 million deer control plan involves both sharpshooters and a contraceptive drug, still in development. The National Park Service’s Midwest regional director is expected to sign off the plan next month.

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