Officials try to solve major deer decline in Stairsteps August 22, 2010 Florida

The population density of the white-tailed deer in the Stairsteps unit's zones 3 and 4 has been in decline going back to 2001..The totals were estimated at 642 in zone 4. In 2007, the population was at 176....the Big Cypress preserve.... ``... we are really concerned about the numbers and need to find a solution. I fear that the lands will be closed permanently,'' said Bill Juliachs, president of the Miami chapter of the Safari Club International.

``The cougars have started to kill off each other. My concern is that, at this rate, the cougars will have killed the entire herd,'' Juliachs said. ``In 2005, Miccosukee Tribe warned that the panther's numbers had been under-estimated and efforts should be taken to control the population.''

Panthers require 100 pounds of meat weekly and a female adult with kittens requires up to 200 pounds.

The National Parks Service was not available for comment, and many of the hunters criticized the way the lands have been managed, with a focus on preservation rather than conservation.

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