National Conservation Training Center counting deer

September 20, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — If the deer that roam the 532 acres at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center stayed put, they'd be easier to count.

"They migrate on and off the property," said Phil Pannill, the training center's land manager. "Deer are part of NCTC's natural systems."

It's his job to count the deer every year to see how many should be thinned out.

This year's controlled deer hunt begins Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 for archery hunters. Those using shotguns with rifle slugs will be able to hunt Nov. 26, and Dec. 3 and 10, and those using muzzle loaders will get their turn Dec. 27, along with youths using shotguns, Pannill said.

The hunts will occur mornings and afternoons on Saturdays only.  Accommodations will be made for hunters with disabilities.

The hunt is open to licensed West Virginia hunters and out-of-state hunters with a West Virginia license.

The deadline for hunting applications was Aug. 31.

This year, 184 hunters applied for permits. Of that total, 92 percent who applied were West Virginians; 3 percent were from Virginia and Maryland; 1 percent from Pennsylvania; and one-half percent from Washington, D.C., Pannill said.

About 120 hunters will participate in the 2011 hunt. Pannill said 16 hunters go out at a time on each shift. They use deer stands installed by NCTC employees.

West Virginia hunting regulations apply. The annual hunt harvests about 30 deer.

"We manage the deer so we can manage our local ecosystem," said Sarah Gannon-Nagle, spokeswoman for NCTC.

The center has been bringing in deer hunters since 2003.

Pannill said employees learn the size of the herd by going out nights in November with spotlights.

"The deer follow the same routes," he said.

The spotlight surveys turn up from 60 to 80 deer on a given night, but surveyors don't know if they are seeing the same deer night after night.

"As stewards of NCTC's 532 acres, we welcome the opportunity to work with our conservation partners in the hunting community and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources," NCTC Director Jay Slack said.

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