Jekyll deer safe for now
The Brunswick News
By Donna Stillinger
January 22, 2014

The population of white tail deer on Jekyll Island is safe — for now.

The Jekyll Island Authority Tuesday unanimously agreed to conduct an additional deer impact study before voting on possible population control.

After reviewing survey results and other information, Bob Krueger, chairman of the JIA Historic Preservation/Conservation Committee, said the conservation committee would like to conduct another specific study to check the impact the deer are having on the maritime forest and native plant life. The study could also examine how much nutrition deer are getting from plants.

JIA Conservation Director Ben Carswell said he and the conservation committee will be taking the next four to six months to map out a plan for finding an educational partner to conduct the study.

“We are looking for the right partner — a graduate student or university — who can conduct a feasible study. We will talk a lot internally about the project and work on a budget to hopefully have this funded in our 2016 fiscal year,” Carswell said.

The authority staff said last summer the deer population is larger than the barrier island can support. Deer supporters say the counts conducted were not accurate and there are not as many deer as conservationists claim.

The JIA staff report recommended that a USDA/ Georgia Department of Natural Resources agency be hired to thin the herd in 2014. Until the results of the study are received and gone over, there will be no population control of the deer on the island, officials promised the roomful of residents attending the meeting.

“The important thing to take away from (Tuesday’s) decision is that it allows the committee time to vet prospective researchers, to compare what we have done so far with the researchers’ plans and figure out where the gap is,” Carswell said.

Completion of a proper study could take four to six years, depending on the type of research partner selected, officials said.

Reporter Donna Stillinger writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at or at 265-8320, ext. 321.