Deer Management and Our Forests
Deer management is an important issue in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the white-tailed deer is undoubtedly one of the most influential species of wildlife in Pennsylvania. Deer provide the greatest wildlife value to the citizens of this state as watchable wildlife, a huntable resource, and venison for countless families. Much of Pennsylvania's rural, cultural heritage is closely linked to this species. Management of white-tailed deer on the State Forest lands has a profound impact on many aspects of the stewardship of these lands.
The large number of deer in the state has significantly changed our forests over the last 50 years, particularly in our most heavily forested areas. In some forests, the diversity of plant species that grew there for centuries has been replaced by a few species that deer do not prefer to eat. Deer overbrowsing has been identified as the primary factor in the failure of many of these areas to regenerate many forest plant species, both woody and herbaceous. To ensure the health of deer and our forests, herds must be kept in balance with their habitat.
According to the PA DCNR publication, "Healthy Forests- Healthy Deer" (http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/publications/Health_Forests_Deer.pdf), the health of both deer and the forests is closely tied together. Deer feed primarily on "browse," the tender shoots and buds of young trees and plants. They also depend on a lush forest understory to hide from predators and protect their young. When deer are out of balance with their habitat, they can very quickly degrade the forest environment for themselves and other plants and animals. However, with the right balance, both the deer and the forest thrive.
According to PA DCNR, many factors influence the health of the forest, including invasive insect and plant species, acid precipitation, changing weather patterns, soil quality and competing vegetation. The complex interaction among these factors, in addition to the local deer populations, greatly influences the forest's capacity to renew itself and respond to more balanced deer populations. Both research and operational experience, however, continue to demonstrate that deer are a large part of the equation, and that balancing deer populations is key to establishing a healthy, biologically diverse forest.
On Thursday, April 22nd, Rick Watts with the Quality Deer Management Association will speak about deer management and what this means to our forests at Penn State Mont Alto. The meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. at Penn State Mont Alto in the auditorium of the General Studies Building. The meeting is being sponsored by the Cumberland Woodland Owners' Association. The meeting is open to the public. You do not have to be a member of the association and there is no cost to attend.
The Quality Deer Management Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting sustainable, high-quality, white-tailed deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences through education, research, and management in partnership with hunters, landowners, natural resource professionals, and the public. Quality Deer Management is a management philosophy/practice that unites landowners, hunters, and managers in a common goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social, and legal constraints.
The Cumberland Woodland Owners Association is an organization of forestland owners and others interested in forestry issues in south central Pennsylvania. The mission of the association is to provide information, education and an exchange of ideas to its members and others about the methods and benefits of proper forest management. The association emphasizes the awareness and implementation of best forestry management practices to sustain the forest and meet each landowner's objectives including recreational, economic and forest conservation values. For more information about the Cumberland Woodland Owners Association and the April 22nd meeting, contact Fred Peabody at 717/776-3565 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).