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Columbian black-tailed deer and deer hunting on Whidbey

I recently received a letter from the University of Montana, Missoula.

The Boone and Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program of the College of Forestry and Conservation of The University of Montana (Missoula) is helping the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife “Better understand the relationship between Columbian black-tailed deer and humans on Whidbey Island.” The study is under-written by Robert P. Wingard, Boone and Crockett Fellow; Paul R. Krausman, Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation and Certified Wildlife Biologist and Ruth Milner, District Wildlife Biologist of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The responses will also be partly used by Robert Wingard for his thesis for a graduate degree.

This survey involves twenty-two questions based upon the opinions of Islanders in order to assist the Department in deer management. One of the queries is about collisions, for example. Some advice: when you stop for a deer crossing the road, wait before you continue driving. Fawns are usually following right behind their mother. If you are new to our exquisite isle, don’t lose patience if you see a traffic back-up and no blue and red flashing lights. People are usually stopping for a family of deer.

How many times a day, for example do you see deer? I look for them in their favorite grazing spots in the Oak Harbor area, but you can see them all over Whidbey. They can be found near shopping centers, within deer caution sign areas and of course, in the wild. They are also a must see for the tourists that visit the Island. If you are not a hunter, it is hard not to be quite taken by these lovely and stately animals.

Other basic questions range from your age to where you live on the island, how long you have been a resident; the size of your property and if you are a hunter. More questions involve the acceptability of the deer population and the transmission of disease to humans. Questions seventeen and nineteen are the lengthiest; the former has seven choices and the latter has nine. They deal with properties outside the city limits and why an owner does not allow hunting on its land and if one owns more than ten acres of land, rate one’s willingness to allow deer hunting on their property.

I believe it is critical for every resident to respond to this questionnaire. The answers are confidential and used for no other purpose than the study. We are so fortunate to live on Whidbey; show your conservation concerns by providing answers to these questions.