White-tailed deer cause an estimated 50,000 car crashes in Virginia each year, do millions of dollars in damage to farm crops, trees and gardens.
Under ideal conditions, the deer population can double every year. The state counts on hunters to help keep the number of deer in check, and officials are now looking at other ways to promote healthy living with deer.
There are an estimated 30 million white-tailed deer in this country – 100 times more than a century ago, and in states like Virginia, predators that used to control their populations are gone.
That leaves humans to manage herds of deer and the Commonwealth is trying to come up with a new plan to do that.
Native Americans and early settlers depended on deer to supply them with meat and clothing, so there was probably not much objection to hunting them, but in the 20th century, as many Americans moved to cities, another force shaped our perception of deer – Walt Disney.
Pine forests were once common in this part of the world -- from New Jersey to Florida and west to Texas. It was a rich environment for a small and smart little woodpecker that is now endangered.
When settlers first arrived in what is now the American southeast, they found 90 million acres of mature pines – the perfect material for home and ship construction – and something that had to come down so the newcomers could farm. Today, only 3% of that ecosystem remains.
The Festival of the Photograph is underway in Charlottesville with a preview of one of the most dramatic projects undertaken by National Geographic. Three residents of Albemarle County spent 18 months recording the lives of lions in the Serengeti and came within inches of the big cats and made surprising discoveries.