Preventing deer damage
to young trees
This web article explains
the best management practices related to reducing deer browse
in regenerating stands.
is showing that white tailed deer populations of more than 14
deer per square mile can have a harmful impact on forest health.
Many areas of New York have 16 to 40 deer per square mile. This
impact is commonly seen in the lack of diverse seedlings and young
trees in many forests. If your forest has an open understory,
chances are it is actually in a path of decline, rather than vigorous
Deer damage cannot
be repaired easily. All forest owners should prevent and reduce
deer damage to maple, ash, hickory, walnut, oak, and other seedlings.
Deer have a lower preference for some species, like beech and
black cherry. This means that over time, the composition of tree
species in forests may shift to just a few different kinds of
trees, rather than the natural diversity that existed before deer
became overpopulated in New York in the last 30 years.
practices for reducing deer damage in woodlands
Monitor for deer
damage of seedlings.
Inspect your woodlot for deformed seedlings, evidence of browse,
deer trails, and excessive buck rubs. These are signs that deer
are likely overpopulated and are impacting forest resources. Some
forest owners have joined forces, combining adjacent acreage to
develop a larger forestry cooperative to monitor deer damage.
Allow access for
Landowners who open their property for deer hunting with permission
rarely incur a higher level of liability. New York's General Obligations
Law (Sect. 9-103) protects landowners from recreation-based liability
under a particular condition: the person is not paying you to
access the property. This includes the hunters you give permission
to hunt deer on your property. Because of this protection, recreational
liability lawsuits against rural landowners from hunters are uncommon.
If you communicate with hunters who may use your property and
agree on limitations, if any, you will be taking an important
step toward maintaining the regeneration capacity of your forest.
seedlings with fencing or fallen trees.
Fallen trees and fencing form barriers to deer, yet allow seedlings
to grow vigorously. Avoid the temptation to "clean up"
the woodland floor of branches and wind throws. Ice storm damage
and trees intentionally felled to protect seedlings are especially
helpful in this regard. By obstructing even small areas of deer
browsing, woodlot diversity will improve. Consider a silvicultural
treatment, like a seed tree cut or clear cut, to improve regeneration.
with deer control programs.
The NYS Department
of Environmental Conservation has many programs available to landowners
and hunters to encourage a healthy deer population, balanced with
sustainable forest regeneration. Attend public meetings about
deer control to learn what is available in your area regarding
doe permits, nuisance permits, quality deer management programs,
and other incentives to keep deer in check.