USDA sharpshooters help provide safe, effective solution to deer issue

15 Sep 2011 | PFC Nik Phongsisattanak

In previous weeks, The Globe addressed the issues created with high deer populations in urban areas, to include problems such as deer and vehicle collisions, vegetation damage, from deer browsing, to landscape and gardens, and tick-borne illnesses.

Last week, The Globe covered the topic of how Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s hunting program can and has helped manage the deer. In this week’s article, base officials conclude that hunting alone will not be an effective solution to reducing deer in urban areas.
Wildlife Services, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and MCB Camp Lejeune personnel agree that the number of deer and the amount of damage observed justifies implementing a new avenue for management action.

The Unites States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services was requested by MCB Camp Lejeune to assist with dealing the urban deer issue. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune personnel, USDA’s Wildlife Services and NCWRC staff met and agreed upon a Deer Management Plan, which will include using USDA Wildlife Services sharpshooters.

Base officials have obtained a deer depredation permit from NCWRC to allow the sharpshooters to begin shooting deer within the next few months. Bucks will not be shot and only antlerless deer will be taken.

The sharpshooters will begin eliminating deer by operating 10 hours a night for four days a week, once a month, according to the Deer Management Plan. The sharpshooters will use high-powered rifles, night vision equipment, forward-looking infrared units and spotlights to help illuminate the deer, at which point, shots will be taken.

“Harvesting the deer is important, but the safety of people is the Commanding Officer’s top priority – which is why we’ve hired qualified professionals to help remove the deer,” said Korenek.

The sharpshooters will fire from elevated positions such as stationary stands or the roof of a pick-up truck, and the maximum shooting distance will not exceed 100 yards to ensure that a missed shot does not stray off.

During a deer culling project in Chester, Pa., police Lt. Bernard D’Amour, who oversaw the culling said he witnessed the culling team of two USDA employees take down 71 deer with only 71 shots fired with not one shot missing its intended target.

The USDA NRA certified sharpshooters shoot both day and night and have to shoot three consecutive shots within a one-inch target at 100 yards. They intend to kill the deer through head and neck shots to ensure humane and rapid death.

“This is the only humane way of doing things,” said Korenek. “The deer harvested will also provide data that helps us understand things such as the diet and health of the deer.”
During the whole course of the Deer Management Plan, the USDA will routinely process the venison, at a nearby meat processing plant. As an added benefit, the venison will be packaged and delivered to soup kitchens and homeless shelters in Onslow, Lenoir, Carteret and Craven Counties.

“Hunting is the preferred way to manage the deer population,” said Korenek. “But, with construction going on and other changes being made to the hunting program, many areas have been temporarily or permanently closed to hunting. We had no other choice.”

For any questions or concerns about the deer issue aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, please call 451-7235.