Editorial - Authority should act on problem soon
Deer on Jekyll are running out of time

The Brunswick News

November 21, 2011

The Jekyll Island Authority asked the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to study the deer situation on the island and to report back to it with its findings. It did as instructed and informed members of the authority last Monday what they already knew: With no natural enemies, there are too many deer on Jekyll. There are more, in fact, than the island can actually support.

The recommendation of the state agency was a given. If there are too many deer, then some have to go. Period.

There's no getting around that biological fact. Resources are stressed and can no longer sufficiently sustain every Bambi on the island. The deer, as will happen, are now consuming vegetation they would not normally eat. The mammal's survival instincts are kicking in and leading it to alternate food sources.

Eventually, though, even that will disappear, forcing the deer to scrounge around for yet other nourishment - a food source that will prove unsuitable for the nutritional needs of the animals. That will lead to unhealthy deer, to disease, sickness, suffering and, ultimately, death. It also can expose residents and tourists to all kinds of potential health risks, like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

This is the picture that biologists drew for the Jekyll Island Authority. Its response: it will think about it.

That's not prudent, nor is it the humane thing to do, to allow an overpopulated species to suffer needlessly. Something must be done.

The authority has only three legitimate options: ignore the problem and let the deer starve and die off; catch and move a large slice of the population to another area of the state; or adopt a strategy to begin whittling the numbers down, like permitting bow hunting in certain areas.

The Jekyll Island Authority does not have to wait for a conservation director or conservation plan to do what it already knows must be done. Deer have decimated their resources. They are running out of food. They are running out of time.

Don't take too long to think about it. Healthy deer are pleasing to the eyes. Famished deer are not.