Throughout the natural history of America, the encroachment of civilization has been responsible for the extinction, or near extinction, of various wildlife species, including the passenger pigeon, buffalo, grizzly bear and elk. Now it’s come to whitetail country in the form of posh subdivisions.
Especially in the past 20 years, there has been a massive encroachment of whitetail habitat by developers who cater to upper income commuters who work in the city but want the peace and quiet of the country. Entire forest tracts have been bulldozed and well- landscaped cottages soon replaced areas where whitetail deer once browsed.
So how did the deer fare? Quite well, thank you! Deer that were temporarily displaced during construction reurned to their now-manicured former haunts and found a delightful array of nutritious plants and browse. But to the homeowners’ chagrin, that new deer food happened to be expensive rhododendrums, lilac bushes, flowers and vegetables.
For many rural homeowners, their property had become a fortress with a ten foot high fence to keep the deer menace from nipping every piece of their landscape down to the ground. Yelling, noise makers and dogs did little to chase the deer away once the animals realized that no harm would come to them.
Instead of cutting down deer numbers, many large rural subdivisions saw dramatic deer increases. One large Pennsylvania subdivision where deer density had been about 20 deer per square mile before development, saw that number increase tenfold to 200 deer per square mile.
People who were adamantly against any form of hunting in the past, suddenly sought aid from state wildlife agencies, but since most of their subdivisions were private deeded boroughs, the state had no jurisdiction or authority within those boundaries.
Amazingly, beleaguered residents were forced to seek help from hunting clubs and law enforcement agencies to establish private hunting seasons that were well regulated and tightly controlled.