SANDESTIN, Fla. – Put some of the top whitetail deer biologists, managers, researchers and enthusiasts together with a little sand, sun and probably a boatload of seafood, and you’ll have the 2012 Southeast Deer Study Group conference in your sights.
By Alan Clemons
On Monday and Tuesday, biologists, land managers, researchers, students and a few other folks will be at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for the group’s annual conference. The SEDSG conference is held after deer seasons end and features some of the top minds in whitetail biology and research. Industry representatives are here, too, along with college students who will be part of the next generation of whitetail and habitat managers.
Sandestin’s a beautiful resort. After several months of winter (mild, at that) there’s no doubt everyone’s glad to be within at least eyesight and earshot of the Gulf of Mexico’s lolling surf. The conference is hosted by state wildlife agencies. This year’s confab is hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (www.myfwc.com).
Each year’s conference has a different theme around which presentations are made and discussion is offered. According to the SEDSG site the topic this year is “Shifting Paradigms: Are Predators Changing the Dynamics of Managing Deer in the Southeast?”
Predation upon whitetail deer, especially fawns, has been studied and debated more robustly the last few years. With liberalized seasons and bag limits for does, along with population management plans that include killing more does, hunters and biologists have been taking a harder look at the impact.
SEDSG explains its conference theme this way: “In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the role predators play in regards to managing deer in the Southeast. As was demonstrated at the Texas meeting in 2010, more and more deer populations are being managed intensively. With increasing intensity comes increased expectations and the intrinsic value of each individual deer is increased. The loss of deer to predators may depress deer populations below desired levels in some portions of the Southeast, while in other high-density areas, predator impacts may be beneficial to deer managers because they may assist in thinning out the herd in areas where deer populations need to be decreased. Learning more about the predators’ role in the management of the deer in the Southeast will be critical for deer managers in the 21st Century.”
As we’ve reported many times in Deer & Deer Hunting over the years, popping a few coyotes or bobcats makes hunters feel good and does eliminate them from the area (see Dan Schmidt’s “Are Coyotes Killing Your Deer?” in the September 2008 issue). Long-term trapping is a more effective management tool, and predator management definitely is or should be part of any wildlife and deer management strategy. Additionally, other predators including raccoons, skunks, armadillos and opossums that may prey on turkeys – which many deer hunters also pursue or manage for – should be included in a predation management strategy.
SEDSGs will focus on whitetails and predators, though, and some interesting observations should arise. We’ll be on hand for the sessions and report on the findings, along with other topics, in the coming months.
Do you manage for predators within your deer or land strategy? If so, let us know what you do and your results, or whether you believe predation plays a heavy role on the whitetail population in your area. Enter your thoughts by replying to this post in the area below …