HOW WE OPERATE

SWM provides their service to area property owners experiencing problems with the expanding whitetail deer herd. We deploy highly-qualified hunters using modern archery equipment (compound bows or crossbows). Utilizing portable tree stands, hunting is performed from a safe, elevated position, shooting downward, at close range. An arrow tipped with a razor-sharp broadhead, launched from a modern compound bow or crossbow, can pass through a deer and bring a swift, painless death. Similar Whitetail deer management techniques have been used in our area with Great Success.

Although Virginia law strongly supports the property owner, SWM has insurance providing liability coverage for each member hunter and host property owner.

Click Here to see how the Suburban Whitetail Management process works. If you have any unanswered questions after reviewing our website, please feel free to contact us directly.

DEER FACTS

General Facts

  • In areas of overpopulation, deer cause an overbrowsing effect called a “browse line”. In areas with a browse line, most plant species below the browse line are stripped bare, damaging the habitat for many species. These browse lines can be from four to six feet high.
  • Deer establish a territory and will not leave it.
  • Deer are known to starve rather than leave their domain.
  • Just two deer without predation can produce a herd of up to 35 deer in just seven years.
  • Deer can live up to 11 years in the wild.
  • Under optimal conditions without regulating factors like predators or hunting, deer populations can double in size annually.
  • Two of the considerations used when establishing a deer management plan are Biological Carrying Capacity (BCC) and Cultural Carrying Capacity (CCC).

Deer Damage and Problems

  • A recent survey of U.S. farm leaders revealed that as many as 56% believed they had suffered crop damage by wildlife and the Whitetail deer was named as the primary culprit.
  • Pennsylvania farmers suffer crop damage of an estimated $30 million annually; Wisconsin estimates its farmers are hit for $37 million annually.
  • Back in 1995, conservative estimates place deer-car collisions in the U.S. at over 500,000 annually. Vehicle damage is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • The annual damage in New Jersey alone is estimated to exceed $10 million dollars. These accidents resulted in thousands of injuries and over 100 deaths.
  • Suburban homeowners spend thousands of dollars on replacing landscaping plants defoliated or damaged by deer.
  • In 1995, Lyme disease was considered to be the fastest-growing infectious disease next to AIDS. Some scientists see a strong link between high deer densities and Lyme disease.
  • In Pennsylvania, a state that tracks deer-vehicle collisions, there are over 40,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually.
  • Even more important is the cost of human life. During the 1985-1994 period, 12 fatalities were reported as a result of deer-vehicle collisions in Virginia.

DEER MANAGEMENT OPTIONS

Fencing and Repellents

  • Fencing is expensive
  • Repellants require frequent applications
  • Repellants are less effective on high density deer populations

Trap and Transfer

  • Labor-intensive and expensive costs can average $261-$567 per deer
  • Mortality rates after relocation can exceed 75%
  • Relocated deer may spread disease to new populations

Fertility agents

  • They are experimental
  • They don’t affect the current population size
  • Have potential impacts on the gene pool
  • Costly and impractical ($150-$500 per deer)
  • Have problems with dosage control and ingestion of anti-fertility agents by non-targeted animals and humans.
  • According to a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the cost of administering contraceptives exceeds $500 per deer treated. This study assumed:
    • No deer left or entered the herd being treated.
    • The contraceptive was administered with a single shot and was 100% effective.
    • The efficiency of autumn darting was similar to winter sharpshooting over bait with a high-power rifle.
    • All deer were infertile with a single treatment. (Not possible with contraceptives available today).
    • No deer were accidentally darted twice.
    • It was possible to distinguish between male and female fawns before darting.
    • Since it is doubtful that any of these assumptions would hold true, the actual cost would far exceed the estimate of $500 per deer treated.

Bowhunting

  • Offers a low-profile method of managing deer herd numbers.
  • Effective in small areas close to houses, farms, and roads.
  • SWM Member hunters are certified by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation.
  • Hunting is performed from a safe elevated position, shooting downward at an average range of 20 yards.
  • Although¬†Virginia law strongly supports the property owner, SWM insurance provides liability coverage for each member hunter as well as the host property owner.
  • Today’s compound bows and razor-sharp broadheads in the hands of experienced archers are capable of harvesting deer quickly, cleanly, and humanely.
  • The most in-depth study ever conducted on wounding caused by bowhunting was performed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Camp Ripley over a 4 year period. It concluded:
    • Almost 87% were eventually recovered
    • Slightly over 13% of the deer shot by Bowhunters were unaccounted for.
    • The fate of that 13% is unknown. Possibilities range from flesh wound recoveries to death.

DEER PROBLEMS AND ISSUES

Deer / Car Collisions

The burgeoning Whitetail deer population throughout the suburban areas of Northern Virginia is resulting in an increasing number of conflicts between deer and people. The most serious of these are collisions between automobiles and deer. These can result in extensive property damage, bodily injury, and in some cases even death.

Health Concerns

Another area of concern involves health issues. Whitetail deer are a primary host to Black Legged (deer) ticks, the carrier of several human diseases. The best known of these is Lyme Disease, but ticks also carry other diseases with even more grave consequences. In addition to tick-borne diseases, deer herds can become infected with other diseases that don’t affect humans like EHD. Diseases similar to EHD are found in domestic animals like horses, cattle, and sheep.

Property Damage

Property damage is another result of the growing Whitetail population. Home gardens and landscaping are expensive in both financial terms and in the homeowners’ time and efforts in maintenance. Even when natural foods abound in local areas, deer are often attracted to the rich succulent plants of the backyard landscape. Natural foods are limited by the natural pH and nutrients of the soil and are in competition with neighboring plants for sunlight. In the backyard, trees, plants, and gardens are usually enhanced by things like pH normalization, fertilizer, and pruning. In addition, the woodlot openings created by our home sites provide additional sunlight to our domestic plantings. When natural food supplies are limited either seasonally or by over-use by deer, the backyard becomes a magnet for deer.

Environmental Impacts

Whitetail deer in large numbers can cause significant habitat damage even on relatively large tracks of land like some of our parks. Deer are primarily browsers. Over-browsing in an area can have a negative environmental impact. The thick and diverse near-ground cover provides the nesting sites needed by many species of birds. It also provides food for other animals. Over-browsing creates an unbalanced situation. Some browsing-tolerant plant species flourish at the expense and even elimination of other less tolerant species.

Animal Rights, Stewardship and Exploitation

It is a simple fact of life today that people in today’s society have very diverse viewpoints concerning the relationship between man, nature, and the environment. As America has become first urbanized and suburbanized, the percentage of Americans working on farms has diminished greatly. Farm life allowed people to gain first-hand experience with animals from many different perspectives. The family dog was a faithful friend and companion as well as a working asset on the farm. Livestock were a precious resource. They were managed and tended with care, but their eventual slaughter provided both much-needed food and income to the farm. Wildlife was viewed as both an asset as well as a competitor. Bees pollinated the crops, worms composted and aerated the soil, yet deer fed on crops and coyotes, wolves, and foxes would prey on livestock. Other wildlife species like squirrels and songbirds were viewed as neutral.

For many years as cities and suburbs grew, people’s close-up experience with animals became more and more limited to life with the family pet. It is no wonder that over time the view of many Americans toward animals has changed. To some, they are all warm and furry creatures needing help and protection. Others take an even more extreme view, anthropomorphizing animals and bestowing “rights” on them. Some even believe these “Animal Rights”, eclipse the rights of man.

On the other side of the coin, we have exploitation of the environment. Wolves and other predatory animals were hunted, trapped, and poisoned to near extinction. Some unregulated mining companies stripped the land in search of coal polluted streams and rivers with sulfur mine drainage with only profits in mind. There are many other examples of exploitation of the environment too numerous to enumerate. Although we may not agree with those who promote concepts of exploitation or “Animal Rights” we do support their rights within the law to promote their positions. We support the position of stewardship. The riches of the natural world are not ours to exploit. On the other hand, we don’t believe that man can or should abstain from wisely using these natural wonders. We believe that nature should be stewarded and used wisely. We support the concept of stewardship by responsible non-confrontational action. As we seek to apply this to the Whitetail herd in Northern Virginia, we consult with biologists. We also take special precautions to avoid offending the sensibilities of those who find hunting and the killing of animals objectionable.

Why Bowhunting Works

Deer Management Options

While other population control options such as fencing, repellents, trap and transfer, fertility agents, sharp shooting, and controlled public shotgun hunts have been studied and restudied, bowhunting consistently proves to be the most cost-efficient and effective option for deer management in suburban areas. Fencing is expensive; repellants require frequent applications and are less effective at high population densities. Trap and transfer is not only labor-intensive and expensive (costs average $261-567 per deer) but also has a high mortality rate after relocation, sometimes as high as 75-80%. Some relocated deer may also spread disease. Fertility agents are experimental, costly, impractical (averaging $150-$500 per deer) and ineffective on the current population size. Dosage control and ingestion of anti-fertility agents by non-target animals and humans as well as the potential negative impacts on deer genetics are also a concern. Sharp-shooting programs are expensive and require larger contiguous tracts of land to ensure safety. Some programs have cost taxpayers as much as $40-60,000. Finally, public shotgun hunts are controversial, but they can be effective on larger tracts.

Bowhunting is a sound management tool and has been used for years in areas such as Quantico Marine Corps Base and Fort Belvoir Army Base. Bowhunting offers a safe, low-profile method of managing deer herd numbers, and is effective in small areas close to houses, farms, and roads. Bowhunting provides an immediate population reduction. It closely resembles and is part of natural predation. In Northern Virginia, natural predators such as mountain lions and wolves no longer threaten deer. Hunting with bow and arrow is the safest, practical, and economic method of reducing herd size to an acceptable level.

Furthermore, bowhunting opens areas to wildlife management that would otherwise be closed. In populated areas of Northern Virginia, human habitation prevents or limits the use of firearms for hunting overpopulated deer herds. This can result in the destruction of habitat, increased human/deer conflicts, and negative effects on human life, health, and property. Deer can be removed in a selective fashion with a specific age and sex group being targeted in overpopulated areas. Typically more does need to be removed. By targeting adult does, maximum population reduction can be achieved quicker. This helps keep the herd to a size compatible with the carrying capacity of the habitat and within human tolerance level.

Are You A Property Owner?

If you are a property owner experiencing problems with whitetail deer and your property is in Northern Virginia area, SWM may be able to help.

Learn More

Are You A Property Developer?

As suburban development begins and proceeds deer activity is disrupted. Prudent developers will deal with the deer population before, during, and after development.

Learn More

Your report is building

Please be patient