Study: Wild Cats Cause Disease in Deer

cat

This is an underreported story, but potentially a bombshell.

According to The Wildlife Society, free-roaming domestic cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals each year

The indirect impacts of cats gone wild on larger wildlife are less obvious, but one of the greatest emerging threats from feral cats is infection with Toxoplasma gondii.

A study published in EcoHealth found that feral cats, through their feces, are likely driving infections in whitetails in northeastern Ohio. The study’s authors collected deer samples from a Cleveland park, as well as cat samples from the area. Nearly 60% of the deer and 52% of the feral cats tested positive for T. gondii. Older deer and deer in urban environments were more likely to be infected, which suggests transmission from extended environmental exposure.

If these findings from Ohio prove to be more widespread, there are serious implications for people as well as deer. Experts say widespread environmental contamination increases the likelihood of human infection, which has been linked to schizophrenia and can lead to miscarriages, blindness, memory loss, and death.

Also very concerning: People that consume undercooked venison from infected deer can also acquire T. gondii and the subsequent disease, toxoplasmosis.

The Wildlife Society actively supports the humane removal of feral cats from native ecosystems.

Should hunters kill free-roaming cats too? We shoot feral hogs that negatively impact native wildlife habitat, and other predators. What about feral cats? Tricky. I’m not saying go out and start shooting every cat you see, but like any predator in the wild they do need to be controlled.

Only in Alaska: Girl Shoots Grizzly, Goes To Prom

alaska bear prom

This spring on prom Saturday, most kids were having pre-event dinners and get-togethers with family and friends. But 15-year-old Cassidy Kramer of Kotzebue had different plans. Led by her father, Lance, Cassidy and her 10-year-old brother hopped on snow machines and went bear hunting in the mountains along the Noatak River.

Lance told KTUU Anchorage Channel 2 that predator control is important to local families, with moose populations declining in the area’s Game Management Unit 23. “It’s important to go out and get bears in the springtime,” Lance said. “We always try to get a spring bear every year.”

Two hours or so into the hunt, Cassidy got her chance. She took aim, fired and hit a bear. When it stopped rolling down a mountainside, she finished it with a kill shot.

After dressing and skinning the bear, Cassidy roared home on her machine, took a quick shower, slipped into her pink dress and made the party with time to spare.

“It was her first bear and her first prom,” Cassidy’s mother said.

Final note: Cassidy’s father says that in accordance with Eskimo custom, Cassidy plans to donate her first bear to someone who needs its meat and hide. “She’s going to give it to her grandmother,” Lance said.

Only in the great state of Alaska.

(Source: KTUU Anchorage Channel 2)

New Science: Deer Eat Eggs, Baby Birds

quail eggsFor years here in VA we have been blaming critters like raccoons, skunks and opossums for for preying on quail nests and contributing to the decline of wild birds here, but could another nest predator be to blame?

Whitetail deer!

Nola.com: Pam Pietz, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota, set up miniature video cameras that ran 24 hours a day to document the fate of grassland songbird nests. She was surprised to find deer raided as many nests as badgers, and more than weasels or red foxes.

I can see a deer munching songbird or quail eggs if it happens across them, but Pietz’s research found they will also eat tiny unborn birds in a nest!

Biologists say that whitetails probably don’t go looking for nests to raid, but if they stumble across a nest full of eggs or babies they consume them and move on. And It does not appear to happen enough to be a major factor in the decline of wild quail or other bird populations.

The world of the whitetail sure is fascinating.

Hunter Shoots Coyote That Attacked Doe!

NE adam coyoteThis from our friend Adam in Nebraska:

Today, I was reminded why I hunt predators.

As soon as my buddy Justin hit the caller, a doe whipped her head up from her bed 50 yards in front of me on the other side of the river. Thirty seconds in, as she’s analyzing the sound, she turns to look behind her.

Out of nowhere, a coyote leaps into the air and pounces on top of her. It latched onto the back of her neck and she stood and started to buck and kick. The coyote lost its hold and the doe ran into the middle of the river. The coyote chased her and stood on the bank yipping at her, where he got a 50-grain surprise from me.

Hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen while hunting. Only wish I could’ve caught it on video, as it was so surreal to see, and doubt I’ll ever see anything like it again.

We didn’t get any bobcats won again. But we didn’t get skunked, and we saved a few deer and calves in the process.–Adam

Shed Hunting: If You Find A Dead Buck

Shed hunters across America are starting to roam the woods. In addition to finding antlers, a few of you will find deer that died within the last several months from natural causes or were shot and lost by hunters last season.

Ken found this first one in VA the other day.

carcass 1

Kelly found this one in South Dakota last month.

carcass 2

This last carcass, found by one of the Drury team members, somewhere in the Midwest, is mysterious. They had spotted this buck alive and well on January 9, 2015, but found his remains just weeks later. How had the deer died—natural causes, coyotes, or maybe poached?

carcass 3

Deer skulls/racks are sad finds, but they make good shed-hunting trophies if you know the rules.

In some states, like Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois, possession of a skull with antlers attached requires a salvage tag from the state. With a skull and antlers that are obviously months-old and dried out or even bleached, this does not make sense to me, but if it’s the law you need to know it. The last thing you want is to come back home with a skull with big antlers, post a picture of your great find on Facebook or Twitter, and promptly get a call or visit from a state CO asking if you have the proper salvage permit.

Be sure to check your state’s regulations.