Natural & Cultural Stewardship

Deer on the Domain

Fri, 04 Oct 2013 17:23:00 CDT  — by: Vincent Leray, C'13, Sustainability Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

deerThere are many deer on Sewanee's campus and outlying domain - so many, in fact, that they pose both ecological and economic problems.

Evidence of such a large deer population is apparent in the rigid browselines, missing wildflowers, and ravaged gardens.  Additionally, 107 lease holders complained of damages attributed to deer last year, totaling over $31,000. 

deer1‌In 2011, a Sewanee deer census run by Domain Manager Nate Wilson found approximately 146 deer/sq. mile, with a sex-ratio of seven doe per buck.  Since then, the deer population has been reduced by about 20% and the sex-ratio has been knocked back to 5.5 doe per buck.  However, the state of TN recommends a population density of only 25deer/sq. mile for Sewanee's habitat type. Sewanee's annual deer cull, in which faculty, staff, students, and community members participate, has been the driving force behind these reductions.  The harvest of does is well incentivized to help reduce the sex-ratio and all of the deer meat goes to hunters or willing community members.

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