Controlling W.Va. Deer Population

Many West Virginia residents could save the state Division of Natural Resources some time during the next few weeks. DNR workers will be conducting a survey, by using spotlights to count deer along some rural roads in 41 counties, to get a better idea of population densities of the animals.

That’s easy: In some areas, including parts of the Northern Panhandle, there are hordes of deer.

DNR officials need estimates of more precision than that, of course, so the night-time counting is a good idea. We will be very surprised if it does not disclose deer populations too dense for the animals’ own good, not to mention for farmers, in some areas.

The next question is what to do about that. State officials – and some cities, through limited “urban hunting” programs – are attempting to curb the state’s deer population. Whether planned actions will be enough remains to be seen.

At one time, natural predators kept deer in check. That ended generations ago. Again, for the good of the deer themselves, the state may have to find ways to deal decisively with what appears to have been a major population explosion.