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Snowstorm allows for HCA helicopter survey of valley deer

Mother nature has provided enough snow cover to allow the Hamilton Conservation Authority to proceed with a planned aerial survey of deer in the Dundas Valley, Iroquoia Heights and adjacent areas.

Terrestrial ecologist Lesley McDonnell said the Feb. 12 helicopter deer count by the Ministry of Natural Resources is expected to take six hours and cover areas last surveyed in 2009.

Back then, the survey counted 505 deer in the valley, or nearly 300 more than the ministry considers ecologically desirable. A further 102 were spotted at Iroquoia Heights – 90 more than desirable.

“It’s a complete replication of the survey done in 2009,” McDonnell said.

The count comes following the end of the second official native deer hunt in the Dundas Valley, which took fewer than 40 deer, or less than half a limit of 80 set by a protocol agreement reached with the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority.

Haudenosaunee representatives are scheduled to discuss the latest hunt and potential changes at the authority board of directors’ March 7 meeting.

McDonnell said the ministry took a year to compile a report on the 2009 survey, but she hopes the authority will have preliminary numbers for the March meeting.

This week’s aerial survey is one of a number of recommendations by a deer management committee in September 2011 in response to concerns about an overpopulation of deer at Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area.

For more information, visit http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/deer-management-advisory-committee

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