Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 12

Creature Feature

Oh Deer
Once nearly gone from the Blue Ridge, white-tailed deer are now overly plentiful.
Or are they?
by Nancy Henderson
Stumble across any local newspaper article about whitetailed deer and you're likely to read a headline such as
"Munching deer changing region's forests" or "Deer on
the move create highway hazard" or even "Too many
deer destroy their own habitat." So are these nimble
herbivores really running rampant in the Southeast?
Yes and no, says Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist
for the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Dept.
of Natural Resources. It all depends on where you live.
Before European explorers settled the Blue Ridge,
white-tailed deer had two primary, non-human predators: the eastern cougar and the red wolf. Widespread,
unregulated hunting for food and the commercial fur
trade quickly depleted the populations of all three.
Then, in the 1800s, the deer lost much of their natural habitat when farmers cleared forests to grow crops,
worsening the decline. Killmaster notes that, except for
a few "relic" populations on hunting preserves and other private properties, "deer were largely extirpated from
most Southeastern states."
Along with the 20th century came a new way of
12 BlueRidgeCountry.com

thinking and a move "away from the wildlife exploitation era in the U.S. and into the wildlife conservation
and restoration era." By the 1920s, game wardens were
enforcing new restrictions on hunting and fishing. The
profession of "wildlife biologist" was born. And forward-thinking conservationists, like Arthur Woody, a
forest service ranger who acquired five deer from North
Carolina's Pisgah National Forest and another three
abandoned by a traveling carnival and turned them
loose in north Georgia, started restocking the region. A
federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition provided
the bulk of the funding for restoration efforts across the
Southeast between 1928 and 1975, when wildlife biologists reintroduced 4,000 deer in Georgia alone.
Then the scales tipped. "I liken it to building a fire,"
says Killmaster. "You ignite small areas all around the
state, and each of those small areas that were stocked
were growing and growing and growing. And then by
the mid-1980s all of those little brush fires grew together and the population exploded. From 1975 to the early
1990s we saw an exponential growth in the deer popu-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016

Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 43
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 50
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover4
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