What’s Up, SeaDoc?

Posted by Sandi

We’re fortunate to have many conservation-oriented organizations in the San Juan Islands dedicated to understanding, preserving and restoring our ecosystems. One of the most important is the SeaDoc Society, based on Orcas Island.

The SeaDoc Society, Orcas IslandSeaDoc sponsors a very cool Marine Science Lecture Series on Orcas in the fall/winter. I’ve been to many of these and highly recommend them. Get there early as they’re usually packed! It starts with cookies and refreshments, followed by a slide presentation with a scientist, then Q&A. It’s a fun educational event for all ages. Click here for the schedule. The next one is December 11th and focuses on potential local impacts of Climate Change.

SeaDoc is now posting videos of these informative presentations on their website. The October lecture was fascinating and one well worth watching: Indirect Effects of Humans on Native Species and Ecosystems.

Black-Tailed Deer on Orcas Island

Foxglove and Daisies, both non-natives, thrive here because they’re not on the deer diet.

The biggest takeaway for me was that our deer population, which is 10 times larger than it was when we had apex predators on the island, is responsible for large declines in native plant variety and therefore songbirds — two of my loves. Professor Peter Arcese, the lecturer from University of British Columbia, says responsible stewardship is the only way to reduce the deer population so that the ecosystem can begin to recover.

Stewardship is a nice word for hunting, which I’ve been adamantly opposed to. However, this lecture really opened my eyes as to the impact of letting the deer population run wild. Our current hunting law, though, permits up to two deer to be “taken” per hunter per year. Venison anyone?

3 Comments

Filed under Community, Nature

3 responses to “What’s Up, SeaDoc?

  1. Biologist

    Thanks for posting about deer over-population. Its not just plant diversity that suffers, but native birds and indeed, the deer suffer as well because they’re hungry, and forced to browse what they would not normally eat. I support responsible hunting as a means to establish ecological balance on Orcas. The hunting season needs to be extended and the limit needs to increase.

  2. The biggest problem with the island is most if not all the land is Privately owned. As a WA licensed hunter, the process of hunting becomes a huge burden to hunt on the islands unless you already know people that live on the island. I would love to hunt on the islands but the thought of having to go door to door and ask for permission on each possible location of deer becomes over whelming. I am not lazy, I just wish it was easier to hunt on the islands. Deer season shows that it runs until December 31st on the Game management unit 410 that’s the islands for archery for any deer – source http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01383/wdfw01383.pdf

    Page 20 late Archery season

    So they have extended the season for bow hunters such as myself.
    I stumbled across your blog searching for spots to hunt on orcas island.

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