COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's Division of Wildlife is monitoring deer around the state for reasons including health and public safety as deer-gun season opens this week.
Officials with the division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say studying a sampling of deer can help them make assumptions about the health and age of the deer population. They say that translates into better management of the herd through proper setting of hunting limits and ultimately benefits everyone, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Karen Norris, a biologist and spokeswoman with the Division of Wildlife, is one of dozens of state employees traveling to deer-processing stations around the state for the opening of deer-gun season Monday.
"Our goal isn't just to make it better for hunting," Norris said.
She says herd management helps the public in many ways. Too many deer mean more vehicle crashes, so there's a science to appropriately culling. Deer also can cause extensive crop damage, which can lead to higher prices at the grocery store, officials said.
But no one wants to reduce the herd too drastically.
"Whether you are the guy with a camera photographing wildlife, or someone who likes to see the white-tailed deer outside your back door, we want the deer there for enjoyment, too," Norris said.
Division employees will have examined hundreds of deer at more than 80 processing stations by the end of the deer-gun season that runs through Dec. 8. They will also have monitored for disease in an effort to protect the herd and Ohio's captive-deer farms and other livestock, said Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife.
Deer are monitored for black-legged ticks and for diseases including brucellosis, an infectious disease that can be transferred to livestock.
State wildlife officials no longer estimate the numbers of white-tailed deer in Ohio, but they say the herd was estimated at more than 700,000 a few years ago.