White-tailed Deer Management Project Update

The BHI Conservancy is gearing up for the upcoming white-tailed deer project that will take place from January 6-12, 2014. The BHI Conservancy will be capturing and administering immunocontraceptive vaccines to female deer during the week, and anticipates vaccinating between twenty and thirty individuals. Each day, the BHI Conservancy will update the Village and Public Safety regarding the upcoming evening’s activities. For the first three days of the project, BHI Conservancy staff and partners will drive around the island from dusk until dawn, focusing on areas with known deer activity. The second half of the week will be focused on six bait sites that have been established across the island. Deer will be spotlighted with a powerful flash light and a quiet, CO2-powered dart gun will be used to remotely deliver a tranquilizer drug. Once deer have been darted, it will take approximately four to six minutes for the drug to take effect, and typically, deer will stay within 200 meters of the darting location. All darts contain radio transmitters that will enable BHI Conservancy staff to locate deer following darting, ensuring that no deer are lost. The BHI Conservancy team will work quickly to take body measurements and blood samples and administer the vaccine, before applying ear tags and a radio collar. A reversal drug will then be administered to counteract the anesthesia. Typically this takes effect immediately. Daily updates on project activities will be provided to the community on the BHI Conservancy website: www.bhic.org.

If you are on the island during the week of the deer project, please be aware that the BHI Conservancy will be using spotlights to locate and identify female deer. The safety of people, deer, pets, and property is a priority, and no darting will be taken without full consideration of the surrounding area. Staff may need to use private property to follow darted deer, conduct health assessments, and administer the vaccines. Staff will work quickly to minimize the amount of time that each deer is under anesthetic. Property owners should be prepared to see individuals with dart guns on golf carts during the project week. Spotlights could shine briefly on homes as deer are tracked, and deer may be darted and assessed on private property. These activities should be brief, and the BHI Conservancy will work hard to minimize disturbance to property owners.

Please bring any concerns or questions before or during the activities to the BHI Conservancy. Please feel free to contact the BHI Conservancy’s Director of Conservation, Nicki Dardinger, at /Blog/97483/White-tailed-Deer-Management-Project-Update or (910) 457-0089 ext. 12.

As the first community in North Carolina to receive permission to implement a non-lethal deer management program, Bald Head Island has the opportunity to showcase an innovative and effective alternative to more common lethal management programs, aligning with the island’s mission to live in harmony with nature. The BHI Conservancy is looking forward to implementing this project and is grateful to the community and all project partners for their support.

-December Island Report, Nicki Dardinger

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