Christmas Decorating For Deer Safety

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Dec. 3, 2014

As the Christmas season nears, and decorations begin to adorn houses, yards and trees, homeowners are being reminded to decorate with wildlife safety in mind, so deer and elk don’t become entangled in candy canes and holiday lighting! You’ll also read about an unusual hunting violation occurring in Idaho this fall, and much more!

Colorado Residents Told Decorate With Deer in Mind
It’s the time of year when big-game animals including mule deer, elk and moose, may be looking for romance in the mountains of Colorado. In doing so, it seems a few of them in populated areas always seem to get their headgear hopelessly entangled in volleyball nets or Christmas decorations. Outdoor holiday decorations and structures, such as Christmas lights or trampolines, can cause problems for antlered animals.

“Deer, elk and moose often find themselves tangled in material or stuck in pools, skate parks, etc.” said Jennifer Churchill, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Although some may find these interactions ‘cute’ or think that the animal is having fun, these situations can be very stressful to the animal. Coloradans should do all they can to prevent our wildlife from conflict with man made obstructions.”

Absher's ONH 2 12-3-14CPW urges homeowners to look for items that could cause problems, such as clotheslines, trampolines, low-hanging wires, swing sets, tomato cages, plastic fencing, chicken wire, bicycles, toys, etc. They should be removed if possible, or flagged with long strands of bright surveyor’s tape that might help to keep deer away.

Decoration recommendations include:

  • Avoid draping lights over shrubs and bushes less than 5-feet high.
  • Trees with trunk diameters of 2- to 6 inches are most likely to be rubbed by bucks and bulls, so only string lights on larger diameter trees.
  • Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long strand so that if animals become entangled they will have less cord to deal with
  • Avoid stringing lights “clothesline” style across open areas.
  • Firmly attach lights to tree limbs, gutters or fence posts.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Hunting Violation!
While on routine patrol this fall, Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officers came across three individuals who were attempting to use a combination of modern technologies to gain an unfair advantage in pursuit of wild game.

On October 18, Conservation Officers Tim Klucken and Josh Leal responded to reports of a powered parachute flying over the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area. On the way to the WMA, officers could hear someone giving location instructions about some deer on the FRS radio. The officers were able to make contact with Jake Tanner and Neil Wood, who were carrying shotguns and admitted they had been communicating with the person in the powered parachute about locating deer. It also turned out that Tanner lacked a deer tag.

Upon further investigation, officers determined the powered parachute pilot, Braxton Tomlinson, was trying to locate deer hiding in the reeds of the WMA marsh and communicate their location by radio to Tanner and Woods on the ground.

Use of aircraft to locate wildlife and communicating the information to someone on the ground is against Idaho Code. The three pleaded guilty in Jefferson County Court and were fined $500 with $400 suspended, plus court costs, sentenced to 10 days in jail, suspended. They were also sentenced then to one year unsupervised probation and revocation of hunting privileges for one year.

Suppressors OK’d For Hunting in Florida
In a November decision, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to repeal the 57-year-old prohibition on the use of firearm suppressors for taking deer, gray squirrels, rabbits, wild turkeys, quail, and crows.

Following the passage of the new regulation, the Commission then voted unanimously to authorize an Executive Order to allow the measure to take effect immediately. Minutes later, Executive Order # EO 14-32 was signed, making hunting with suppressors for all animals in the state legal, effective immediately.

The new regulation amends 68A-12.002 General Methods of Taking Game; Prohibitions by striking “silencer equipped” from the language.

With the enactment of the new regulation, Florida became the 33rd state to allow hunters to use legally possessed suppressors in the field for all game animals. Earlier this year, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana all enacted similar pro-suppressor hunting reform.

CWD Found in Two New Wyoming Hunt Areas
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance program has found CWD in a new elk hunt area and a new deer hunt area. CWD is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk and moose.

Staff at the department’s wildlife disease laboratory in Laramie confirmed a doe mule deer and a cow elk were CWD positive. The deer was from deer hunt area 123, northeast of Lovell. The elk was from elk hunt area 108, which is southwest of Rawlins.

Both of the new hunt areas are bordered by or overlap hunt areas where the disease was found previously. Deer hunt area 123 borders deer hunt area 122 and CWD was found there in 2007 and elk hunt area 108 overlaps deer hunt area 84, where CWD was documented about a month ago.

“We take CWD seriously and that is the reason we have a surveillance program. Though there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to people, we recommend people not eat deer, elk or moose that test positive for CWD,” said Wildlife Division deputy, Scott Edberg. “We continue to conduct vaccine research and evaluate options to try and prevent the spread of CWD.”

Quote of the Week
“To brag a little, to lose well, to crow gently if in luck…to pay up, to own up, to shut up if beaten…are the virtues of a good sportsman.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, (1809-1894)

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at [email protected]


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