First day was a whimper, not a bang

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:04

Milford - The combination of two hard winters and more predators in the forest translated to a smaller opening day, deer season harvest, Peter Pinchot said Monday. Pinchot was working at a voluntary weigh station outside Milford, trying to gather data to estimate the health of the deer herd. By late afternoon, only 15 deer had been weighed. “There are fewer deer in the forest,” he concluded. While this summer produced a good crop of acorns for feed, Pinchot said a growing coyote and black bear population are natural predators of the deer. Bears are especially tough on the fawn population in the spring when they come out of hibernation. “The meat is high protein and there is no risk factor in getting it,” he said. The result is fewer adult deer.“There’s been a gradual decline (in the deer population) over the past two years,” he added. While the state Game Commission surveys and estimates the herd statewide, they don’t estimate county by county. Statewide, the Game Commission estimated there were about 1.5 million deer in Pennsylvania in 2000, up about 300,000 from 1990. The Milford station is joint project of the Milford Experimental Forest, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Quality Deer Management Association. The station checks weight, gets statistics on antler characteristics and the fertility and lactation of does. The Game Commission, interested in the overall harvest, does not have check stations. “They don’t gather this kind of information,” Pinchot said. “It’s not about trophies.” Pinchot, who has been among the leaders of the open-space movement in Pike, said the information gathered from deer tells a lot about their habitat as well.