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Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

Deer over population is a growing problem in NYS. The DEC has announced a new plan for deer managment for the coming years to 2016 including an expanded bow hunting season.

I’m not sure on what range the deer and antelope were playing when Gene Autry and Roy Rogers popularized  the song ‘Home on the Range’   Wherever it was, I think it has expanded considerably.  Now they are playing in my backyard, and probably yours, as well as in our parks, farmlands and environmental sanctuaries and open space areas. 

I’m not sure they are ‘playing’ either; more like searching for hard to find food given their mushrooming population. They are beautiful, and a pleasure to watch, but sadly, in their struggle to survive, they are denuding our forest floors of young saplings and eliminating the reproduction of its trees.  As older trees die off, no new trees will be replacing them. 

According to the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, there is a population of about one million white-tailed deer in New York State. Gordon Batcheller, head of the NYSDEC’s Bureau of Wildlife, says about 230,000 were killed by hunters and 60,000 to 80,000 were killed on highways.  The DEC has had a Deer Management plan for decades with a goal of balancing deer with their habitat, human land uses and recreational interests. After seeking public comment throughout  2011 at more than 20 public meetings and conducting surveys of hunters, the DEC developed  the Management Plan for White-Tailed Deer in New York state for 2012 – 2016.  It is predicated on hunting being the most effective way of managing deer.  This plan can be viewed at their website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/deerplan2012.pdf.

Among the changes to the old plan is an expansion of the bow-hunting season – starting about 5 weeks earlier in early to mid-October of 2012.  To address the fact that the number of hunters has been declining and the average age of hunters has been rising, the DEC is scheduling a special bow hunting weekend for teenagers to help recruit more young people to hunting. The new Deer Management Plan also addresses alternative buck harvesting strategies and fertility control of deer. The DEC Deer Management Program provides some very interesting and compelling reading and is worth a look.

By the way, Antelope is a term that refers to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Where did Gene Autry and Roy Rogers ever run into them playing?

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Jim February 19, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Yes, Wikipedia, gives the description you gave for an antelope, however, in the American West, there is a unique deer-like animal, called the prong-horned antelope, which is technically not a true antelope, but is probably the animal that Gene Autry is singing about. An interesting fact about these critters is that the Pronghorn is the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, running in 20-foot bounds at up to 60 miles per hour. Unlike the Cheetah, speedburner of the African plains, the Pronghorn can run for hours at quite a fast pace. So if you're living on a ranch somewhere out in western Nebraska or New Mexico, etc. you can probably enjoy the visual delight of deer and antelope playing from the comfort of your own home. Entirely unique on this planet, the Pronghorn's scientific name, Antilocapra america the deer-like Pronghorn is neither antelope nor goat -- it is the sole surviving member of an ancient family dating back 20 million years. The Pronghorn is the only animal in the world with branched horns (not antlers) and the only animal in the world to shed its horns, as if they were antlers. The Pronghorn, like sheep and goats, has a gall bladder, and like giraffes, lacks dewclaws. If that weren't enough, the Pronghorn is the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, running in 20-foot bounds at up to 60 miles per hour. Unlike the Cheetah, speedburner of the African plains, the Pronghorn can run for hours at quite a fast pace.

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