Deer Management

April 10, 2019

MSU Extension hosted a webinar in March, 2019 to inform crop producers about wildlife species that can impact field crop production and options for control.  In this video, Ashley Autenrieth, Deer Program Biologist with Michigan Department of Natural Resources, describes species under the DNR's jurisdiction (turkey, geese, deer) and explains how crop producers can manage deer to minimize crop loss.

Video Transcript

 - I'm gonna kind of give you guys an overview looking at the different options available to land owners specific mainly to crop damage from the state's prospective. I'm gonna talk like he said a little bit about geese, little bit about turkeys but then I'm probably really gonna stick to deer, for the rest of the time. So were gonna just start with life cycles and kind of population trends, talk a little bit about that, before I get into the actual permits that are available. So for geese, breeding begins typically at age three and as many people know typically between March, April or May, that is when they are laying eggs and nesting it's typically between five to six eggs. They only have one brood per year. In Michigan, it does appear that the population, does seem to be increasing and that is across most of Michigan that we are seeing that. When we're talking about peak damage times, the two most common ones are gonna be June. June is particularly bad because this is the time that geese tend to get into the fields, just as the crops are emerging so obviously they're at their most vulnerable. And so they can do a fairly significant, amount of damage in a short time. The other damage time is late summer and this is really because, this is when goslings are flighted, so obviously the family groups, are much more mobile at that point in time. So those are the two main times with geese that we tend to see the most amount of damage. Turkeys are actually capable of breeding at a year of age. Those studies do show that they tend to be, more successful in raising the poults, when they're a bit older but they are capable at one year of age of breeding, both males and females. Like geese, they lay their eggs in March, April or May. Typically it's between 11 to 12 eggs. Again they have typically one brood per year. So in Michigan, their populations appear to be increasing, for the most part but it is somewhat area dependent and so what I mean by that is that in areas with, severe winter conditions often times, we get turkey die offs. Apparently my screen wanted to close. Here we go. Okay. So it is area dependent and then of course in other areas we do tend to see, people feeding turkeys as well and so that can be, quite a common occurrence. Some people absolutely love it, some people don't but that can certainly make a difference, in their survival as well. Peak damage times, so this tends to occur in the fall but it's actually mostly opportunistic and so what I mean by that is, studies that have been done looking at wildlife damage actually show that, turkeys really don't do as much damage as people think that they do. What tends to occur is that, turkeys are a very visible species so if there is this wildlife animal that you're likely to look out in the field and see during the middle of the day, it's going to be turkeys. And so a lot of people associate that with them doing a lot of damage. But what studies have shown is that it's actually less visible species that are more than likely responsible for the damage but turkeys will take advantage of that damage. So for example, stalks of corn that are knocked over, turkeys will take great advantage in pulling the kernels, from those cobs of corn but they're often not the ones that actually knocked the stalks over. So that's essentially what studies have shown over the years in Michigan and Iowa, is another state that's done research on this. For deer, deer typically begin producing at one and a half years old, however actually a study in southern Michigan did show that down there deer can begin reproducing actually at six months of age. That's due more to better conditions in southern Michigan so not the winter impacts that we see up in the north and just more abundant resources. Deer can have singles, twins or triplets are all possible. Down in southern Michigan again, we see quite a bit more twins and triplets. Again this is more so due to favorable conditions down there and as you move further up north, you tend to see more singles than twins. Their population for the most part again, increasing it appears to be but it's area dependent so as I've been saying with the trend of deer, as you move farther north you get, areas of lower populations due to severe winter conditions and just poor resources in those areas. But across much of southern Michigan, there's very little to actually, keep deer populations in check so in general they tend to be increasing. Peak damage times for dear, it's typically throughout the summer but it can be crop dependent and so if you think about the fall, a potato harvest, a lot of damage can occur at that time but the same with the spring as for example strawberry fields are coming up. So deer can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time but again that peak damage that we typically see, is gonna be in the summer. So when we talk about mitigation options, we generally put those into two categories, non-lethal and lethal. For non-lethal when I refer to that and this is basically if you think about it for all, geese, turkeys and deer, very similar in terms of what's in these categories. So when we talk about non-lethal, we're talking about harassment. This would be noise makers, pyrotechnics, bird bangers are some other ones. And then barriers such as flagging and fencing. And then we have other deterrents, things like liquid fence or human hair, bars of soap. And then in our lethal category we have hunting which is always highly encouraged, for all three of these species. And then we actually, we have permits available as well, for turkey and geese, these would be out of season permits. When we talk about deer we have both, special in season permits as well as out of season permits, for them as well. And I did wanna note here too that, when we talk about our lethal methods and things of that nature, studies have really found that, pairing non-lethal and lethal methods together, often shows the most success, in terms of deterring and mitigating damage. And so, what I mean by that is, if you're issued permits for deer damage, we highly recommend if you can fencing but also using harassment as well and even some deterrents. The more you can do, the better success you tend to have. Usually just one of the options isn't enough. So what are the types of permits available? So for geese, this is actually a permit, (mumbles) US Fish and Wildlife Services. And so there are quite a few restrictions with this one, for example, you are only allowed two geese per day with a total of no more than eight overall. Only shotguns using size four and larger with non-toxic shots such as steel shot and the use of lead shot is prohibited. Shooting hours are from, half hour before sunrise until sunset. And of course we always want our people to be aware of safety zones. When it comes to these permits as well, no calling or baiting is allowed. And all carcasses must be buried or disposed of in a landfill. So you'll start to see some differences between, each of these species and the different permits and like I said, when I get into deer, there's quite a bit of difference with these. With turkeys, so this is controlled by the state and so with turkey permits we do, highly encourage in season hunting but we do have out of season kill permits, available for turkeys and so people who are interested in those, would wanna contact their local biologist and I do have information for that at the end of this. So now we're gonna get into deer. This is, deer is pretty much the rest of the time. So the first permit I'm gonna talk about, are deer damage shooting permits. And his is one that is the out of season shooting permit so the timing of this is actually written in statute, it may only be used outside of a regular deer season. And the most common time for these to be used, is June to August, no surprise there again that's that peak damage time. The purpose of these, excuse me, this is a free permit and it's to assist with immediate concerns of damage occurring, we do not consider this hunting. So really for this is the amount of damage is, being caused is to the level significant enough that it's actually causing an economic loss. We do not put a number on this, we do not go out and assess, it's 25% or anything like that, no, we basically go and assess is there damage occurring? And if so we typically will issue those permits. With this permit, it is typically antlerless only. We do require that all carcasses are utilized and that of course the person follows, the hunting hours given on the permit and so I say hunting hours but again that's typically, half hour before sunrise until sunset. On this one, 15 shooters are allowed to be listed and then you have to follow all the rules that might be listed on that permit. So okay I'm gonna move on to the next one but, so this is the out of season shooting one, now we're gonna move to the in season permit. These are called-- - [Man] Ashley. - Yeah. - [Man] Before you move on just because we might have a question here or there. Can you back up to the last slide? So, I have one question and then I also see there's one in the Q&A so everyone who's on this afternoon, feel free to again type those questions into the Q&A. So one question that I have received is who is allowed to shoot and since we're down on the Indiana border, I've gotten comments that well we're not allowed to, have people that we know, either neighbors or relatives or whoever from Indiana, come up and shoot. So are there any stipulations put on who might be on the list? - Yeah so that's a great question so in terms of who can be on the list, I said really the only qualification for that, is that you are able to, have a hunting license in Michigan so basically you're not prohibited from doing that, basically that means you don't have any, reason you've been restricted, legal wise from purchasing a license and of course that you can also, possess and own a firearm is the other one. So other than those qualifications, that list of 15 shooters, you do have to submit the names so that is something that's, kept typically at each local office and that's more so for local law enforcement to know okay, Jack Turner was out there and he's on the list here and that makes sense with what I have here. So other than that, we don't have stringent rules as to who can be on there and who can't. And I will add too, if you fill up your list of 15 shooters and say your daughter is coming home for the weekend and she'd like to help and participate, you can typically call the local office and get someone switched out. So if you need to names can be switched out. - [Man] Okay, thanks. - Yep, was there another? I can't, oh there we go okay the Q&A. Did you want-- - Yeah I'm reading through it. It seems like they're not applying to our webinar for today so I'm gonna let you continue. - Perfect alright, well stop me if you get any others. So next we'll move on to our, Deer Management Assistance Permits. So these are the in season permits and the idea behind these so whereas before the out of season shooting ones, were for the immediate damage that was occurring and again that's due to an economic loss. This is more so for population control, on individual properties. So some people have asked us why do you have these, when it's during the hunting season and people can get antlerless licenses anyway? So it's kind of a two fold reason, so the first being that not all deer management units, have enough antlerless licenses available, for those who want to utilize it, for something like this. So if you, especially farther up north where there aren't as many deer licenses and often they sell out, this makes it possible for an individual land owner to get additional permits that would not have otherwise been available. And the other reason that we have this is that again it's this idea of this population control on individual properties. So when we set quotas and things of that nature, we are doing so looking at things on a much larger scale. Whereas this really brings it down to an individual property level and so it's not meant to deal with damage that's occurring at that moment it's really meant for looking into the future and saying okay if I remove X amount of deer that will hopefully remove X amount of damage that could occur next year. So again the qualifications for this, are damages occurring but not at the same level as for deer damage permits. The rules for this one, antlerless only on this as well typically, must follow the normal hunting hours, must follow the rules of that particular season. Again must utilize the carcass, that's pretty much across the board and then must follow all the rules listed on the permit. So of course with any permit there's always exceptions and so with some of these we do have exceptions under special circumstances and so one of them is called a DMAP Firearm Exception for the Archery Season. And so this is, it allows for the use of a firearm, during the archery season on private properties. And this is really for the properties that can demonstrate that archery has been, ineffective at curbing basically, the deer numbers on that property that the damage is occurring on. So that's a statewide rule and so we do have, rules in place for that in terms of, inspections and basically what it takes to qualify for that. The other one is an Antler Deer Exception. So we do have those in place for both the, out of season shooting permits and for the deer management assistance permits. And those, as you can imagine, it's more related to Orchard and Vineyard situations in which robbing is occurring and damaging the areas and so, those exceptions are available. - [Man] So Ashley I have a question for you. - Okay. - [Man] This person said we've had deer damage in a field, for a couple years now and haven't done anything yet, getting with DNR et Cetera. Will anticipate again this season, new to this and just double checking, in addition to the application, would someone from the DNR have to come out and see damage before the permit is issued? - So typically if you are a brand new applicant yes we do try and come out to not only check, to see if there is damage but also to just begin establishing a relationship so many of our farmers, this is, it's typical every year they get permits from us and so we do develop relationships with them and so we like to of course put a face to the name and things of that nature and the same for others so yes if you're brand new we do typically, like to come out and do an inspection, check the property of course. The other reason too is we do have to make sure that when issuing permits that there are no safety concerns as well, since in most cases firearms will be used. So yes, typically we will come and do an inspection. Okay so for those of you wondering who to contact, for any of these permits, really where you want to start is your local biologist. And so we do have this map online and it's color coded to let you know what biologist covers what area and so the best way to get to that is, and the list is located there there's a link for this map and you can click on any of those colors and it, takes you basically to a link that says who the biologist is that covers those counties. So you'd want to get in touch with them and they would get you all the information you would need and likely it would be them, a technician or an assistant that works for wildlife division that would come out and meet you and start the process, for getting those permits. And that is all I have. - [Man] Alright great thank you Ashley.