News: Deer population create problems aboard base
Story by Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Thousands of acres of land, from dense forests to open plains, provide an ideal habitat for wildlife to thrive. Native animals such as white-tailed deer are not only stable but rapidly growing in populations aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Increased deer populations may sound positive from a general view, but a detailed look reveals many adverse effects around urban locations.
Martin Korenek, a wildlife manager with Land and Wildlife Resources Section, Environmental Management Division aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, said deer are naturally territorial, but when their territories expand to areas used or occupied by people, it creates problems such as deer and vehicle collisions, an increase of tick and tick-borne illnesses and vegetation damage. Another factor that helped the deer population grow was the increase in construction, which restricted hunting in many areas of mainside, reducing the number of deer harvested, added Korenek.
There have been more than 120 documented deer-vehicle collisions on MCB Camp Lejeune since 2009. The deer have been observed grazing on landscaping vegetation on developed urban areas, which include office complexes, recreational sites and residential areas. The damaged area consists of approximately 500 acres of urban lands, resulting in thousands of dollars spent by both the installation and patrons on vehicle repairs and landscape restoration.
In addition to the cost of collateral damage, deer are also hosts for parasites such as ticks. A concern brought on by high deer densities in urban areas is the transmission of tick-borne illnesses which can have serious consequences for humans. In 2009, there were 35 cases of tick-borne illnesses documented and treated on MCB Camp Lejeune. Twenty-four of those cases were Lyme disease and 11 were Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2010, there were 39 cases of Lyme disease and six cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“Deer are a big part of the base,” said Korenek. “They’re part of the local wildlife. Deer provide sport [as well as food] for the people hunting them on the base, but when they’re around humans, it can create problems. If [service members] have kids that like to play outside on the yard, they don’t want to have to worry about their kids getting bit by ticks. It’s important to have deer, but we have to monitor and control their numbers so they don’t create problems for people.”
Base personnel advise patrons to watch out for deer while driving at night because they are more active at that time, and to check for ticks after outdoor activities, especially if people are around wooded areas.
For any questions or concerns about the wildlife aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, please call 451-7238.