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Vermont grapples with too many deer in some suburban areas

November 10, 2018

FILE - In this July 5, 2011 file photo, a deer looks up from grazing in a sun-drenched field in Barre, Vt. Vermont wildlife officials are trying to figure out how to ease the overcrowding of deer in 2018 in some urban and other areas of the state that is impacting deer health and damaging forests. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont wildlife officials are trying to figure out how to reduce an overabundance of deer in some suburban and other areas of the state. They say the overcrowding is impacting deer health, damaging forests and causing property owners to complain about the animals chomping down their landscaping.

Parts of the Champlain Valley from Burlington up through St. Albans in Franklin County are the biggest areas of concern, said Nick Fortin, deer biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

“We’re starting to see damage to young trees, forest regeneration. And also declining health of our deer like body weights,” he said. “They’re not unhealthy, they’re still healthy but they’re beginning to decline. Presumably that’s due to overabundance, too many deer.”

Communities around the country have grappled for years with too many deer in suburban areas by expanding archery hunting and in extreme cases relying on sharpshooters to do the work.

“A lot of times it’s not a one size fits all. It can be a combination of things,” said Steve Lightfoot, spokesman for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

“The issue we face mostly in these communities is you’ve got different viewpoints. Some folks, they love to see the deer and they feed them. And that creates a bigger issue because others don’t and they see their backyard plants getting browsed to near nothing and there’s also the issue with traffic safety. Deer and cars don’t mix too well,” he said.

Vermont has an estimated deer population of 155,000, likely the highest amount in a couple of decades as a result of several mild winters, fewer hunters and fewer areas to hunt.

The state hopes to control the suburban deer by expanding archery hunting.

“I think we have more than enough hunters to control the deer population and we will as we continue to lose them over the next decade,” Fortin said. “The challenge is that there are a lot places ... where hunters aren’t allowed to go.”

That certainly was the case on Friday, when a doe and fawn ended up in a woodworking shop in Morrisville.

WCAX-TV reports that Paul Green was working at the Douglas P. Blake Jr. workshop when a doe ran through the door, then crashed through a window to get back outside. A few minutes later, a fawn ran in and out, while the mother crashed into and out of another room in the building.

Office manager Kathy Stokes said when the doe finally raced off to a nearby highway bypass, it got hit by a dump truck and killed.

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