State Park wildlife should be viewed but not touched

aadeer1The interaction between humans and wildlife in Texas’ state parks is an encounter that should be done with respect. 
 
Although people see deer out in the open as a beautiful sight, the visitors are guests in the home of the wildlife. Deer, hogs, and birds are three animals that are commonly seen. 
 
Ryan Schoeneberg, TPWD deer disease/urban deer program specialist, believes that visitors and the wildlife can coexist. 
 
“Deer are very adaptive,” Schoeneberg said. “But if people see them, they should treat them as if they were a wild animal.”
 
Many of the deer in state parks are not as scared of people but that doesn’t mean visitors should approach them. Schoeneberg says that 99 percent of the fawns that are left alone have a parent close by. 
 
Schoeneberg recommends visitors don’t touch fawns lying down because putting a human scent on a young deer can make it easier for predators.
 
In some parks, deer are overpopulated and need to be controlled. Texas Parks and Wildlife conducts surveys in state parks to get an idea of how many deer live in the area. By documenting how much first-choice and second-choice plants are eaten in a certain time frame, TPWD gets an idea of how many deer live in the area. In cases where too many deer occupy a park, the park can choose to close then assign areas to local hunters to hunt the overpopulated deer. There are programs like the Trap, Transport, and Translocate program that will remove deer from private lands if they are not wanted. 
 
TPWD has tried to crack down on any additional assistance to get the park’s wildlife habituated. Speed limits in state parks are very slow and, recently, a bird-feeder ban was put into some state parks. Visitors may not set up bird feeders to attract local birds. 
 
“The problem comes when the bird gets used to being fed and then they don’t migrate when they are supposed to,” said Brian Daniels, TPWD resource specialist. 
 
Daniels recommends visitors keep their distance if they see animals and remember if they are looking to relax and camp, the wildlife in the area is doing the same thing. 

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