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Discussion Starter #1
DCNR told everybody in Pennsylvania that the deer were destroying the forest because we have way too many.
Here is proof they are right! (sarcasm)





Here is the fence that was put up in the State forest to keep the "herds" of deer out!



Kind of wierd that I didn't see any deer today.
 

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And your point is? I am really at a loss as to what you are trying to prove, or show. That is a prepared site to give the seedling a head start with less competition fom unwanted plants, hence the herbicide. Take a picture next fall and post it to see the difference.
 

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JohnS Please dont introduce facts into a armchair biologist non-factual rant......It really takes all the fun out of it....Jeeze
 

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It wouldn't matter if there were herds of deer or not. It takes very few deer too keep emerging growth mowed down in a decent sized area. I loved trapping deer up in he big woods. We would encounter people all the time that old us we were wasting our time. The look on their faces was priceless we would show them all the active collars on the deer in th area. Just because you didnt see them, doesn't mean they aren't there
 

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Its certain some advice is never taken.

I wonder who's been harvesting those DMAP deer? Somebody keeps getting those permits for fictitious deer on state forest lands. Maybe those people know something.
 

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In the summer of 2002, dozens of us HPA members went on a habitat tour on the SF that adjoins the Grand Canyon (up the West Rim Trail). Pretty much an all day event and very educational.

The first area we spent time at, was a fenced exclosure that had very good regen inside the fenced area. Most of it had been close to a clear cut several years previously (several mature trees had been left in place to foster desirable regen, so it wasn't a total clear cut). Parts of it resemebled a jungle, as the growth was very dense in some areas, depending on what was prospering there.

Outside the fence, clear evidence of severe browsing on the same vintage cut that wasn't fenced. Every oak stump was devoid of sprouts, any other regen was also browsed into oblivion. So there were enough deer there to show the difference in what occured inside the fence and what went on, outside.

My favorite comments on such exclosures, are the ones saying "Sure the outside was browsed-off, the deer couldn't get to the inside".



Yet some still deny the adverse effects deer can have on forest regen, ridicule deer exclosures and the reasons they exist in some areas.

The next stop on the tour, was an area farther north that had once been fenced, but no longer was. Desirable species had been able to mature enough, that deer cold no longer affect them, then the fence was removed. Good mast production and many other benefits from regen that was allowed to grow, rather than be eaten into oblivion.

Many of us figured out the "why" parts of such measures long ago and why it also became necessary to bring down deer numbers at the turn of the decade in many areas of PA.

Others? Not so much. But I reckon if your personal bottom line is limited to always seeing "enough" deer each fall, then ya probably don't spend much time worrying about anything else other than that? No worries about a sustainable habitat to ensure good wildlife numbers for years to come, just "gimme what I want right now".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
John S said:
And your point is? I am really at a loss as to what you are trying to prove, or show. That is a prepared site to give the seedling a head start with less competition fom unwanted plants, hence the herbicide. Take a picture next fall and post it to see the difference.
Well John, I'm not sure on what side of the deer debate your on, but if you subscribe to the PA Outdoor News and read the letters to the editor section that has "deer are an endangered species" letter in every issue, I'm not that extreme. I'm all for proper deer management and a healthy herd. I also think the antler restrictions were the best thing they implimented. As for the fence, The Gallitzin State Forest has been clearcutting 10 acre sections and fencing it off for at least 16 years and I've seen the dense vegitation as a result. But, they increased the DMAP allocation here again this year and I'm just not noticing an increase in the numbers of deer to show a reason for it. I know I won't see the huge numbers I use to se like my first year of hunting in 1978 and saw 70 doe on the first day of buck season. I do realize deer do have an adverse affect on the forest but, geez oh man, I had a trail cam out for 3 weeks and all I have are bear, coon, coyote and fisher pictures! I'm happy as a trapper but not as a deer hunter. Oh, wait, I did have a picture of 2 deer, that was the herd I was referring to. In the long run, I hope it does bring back the snowshoe hare population that once was here.
 

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The PA Outdoor News is a joke. The biased commentaries are good for a laugh and that's about it
 

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They work for there purpose. I first seen one installed about 5 years ago a few miles from my cabin. Wondered what the heck is this. Now 5 years later they actually paid a local to remove the fence you wouldnt believe it was the same place. All kind of vegetation growing for many specis. I think it was a great idea of looking ahead and at the broad picture.
 

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DennyF said:
The first area we spent time at, was a fenced exclosure that had very good regen inside the fenced area. Most of it had been close to a clear cut several years previously (several mature trees had been left in place to foster desirable regen, so it wasn't a total clear cut). Parts of it resemebled a jungle, as the growth was very dense in some areas, depending on what was prospering there.

Outside the fence, clear evidence of severe browsing on the same vintage cut that wasn't fenced. Every oak stump was devoid of sprouts, any other regen was also browsed into oblivion. So there were enough deer there to show the difference in what occured inside the fence and what went on, outside.

My favorite comments on such exclosures, are the ones saying "Sure the outside was browsed-off, the deer couldn't get to the inside".
Comparing the immediate outside area of the enclosure to the area inside it is not a valid scientific experiment because the presence of the fence modifies the habitat into a non-natural state.

The protected area is devoid of deer, so NO natural browsing that would occur in the presence of an appropriate size deer herd will happen.

As such, an artificial "salad bar" is created and eventually will attract deer to it in an attempt to browse. When they cannot, they likely would begin to browse at the point of most convenience, which is right outside the fence they were attracted to. In effect, it's just a giant food plot or bait-with-roots.

As it was stated earlier, the purpose of the fence it to give desirable species an advantageous head start. Not only with the artificial exclusion of all deer, but also with the deployment of herbicides. Left to nature alone, the condition would never be zero deer and chemical herbicides, would they?

So the comparison of an area in an environment that is artificially controlled by humans to an area immediately outside of it that is controlled by nature is an invalid comparison.

Not saying such fences don't have their place and a purpose. But the purpose is not and cannot be an unbiased scientific comparison.
 

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Proper studies of deer exclosures aren't just a comparision between one side of the fence and the other side of the fence. There are several different ways these studies are done. Some, as you suggest, compare areas completely free of deer browse with areas where deer are present, but others measure the effects of deer browse at varied deer densities.

Based on the abstract, this looks like a particularly good study, unfortunately I have not found a free version of the full article yet: Tilghman 1989
 

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The following is based on non-scientific research conducted by an old Nimrod who can't remember where he put his car keys..

I think few people realize that deer are eating machines. They will eat anything when food becomes scarce. A dozen deer can strip everything within reach in a 10 acre woodlot within a month. In other words, a deer can eat about an acre of reachable browse within a month.

A density of 50 deer per square mile gives each deer about 12 acres to browse. Easy to see how they can not only destroy the habitat and completely stop regeneration but run out of food in the late winter months and die or be too weak to carry fawns.

I live on the agricultural rich eastern shore of MD. Lots of crops to get the deer fat for winter. But, even with all that ag food, virtually every woodlot in this area has a very evident browse line. And even here in the mild winter climate of the Eastern Shore of MD, we periodically see winter mortality.

Deer are prolific. They can quickly overwhelm the availability of the forest to feed them. Think for a minute what would happen if you put three deer (one buck and two does) in a 10 acre pen. They would be fine for the first year, but then after the two does had twin fawns in the spring there are now 7 deer in the pen. By next year there are possibly 15-20 deer. We now have more deer in the pen than Mother Nature can feed and a pen that looks like a dirt ball field.

Deer are a very tough management problem when land access is restricted and hunters spend more time on internet forums than in the woods..


Using a different metric, science says a healthy forest can produce about 300 pounds of browse per acre. A mature deer can eat about 12-15 pounds of browse a day. Thus, a deer can eat all the browse in an acre of forest in about 20-25 days. Since the browse includes new shoots (regeneration) coming up on the forest floor, the amount of new browse being produced can quickly be reduced to zero.

Now, there probably is a real forest specialist reading this forum who can adjust my numbers, but I think the analogy is close to the truth.

Best regards, Glenn
 

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DFA, the point you are missing is when habitat is in bad condition even a moderate or appropriate size deer herd will prevent seedlings from growing. Once the trees inside the exclosure have grown beyond the ability of an appropriate deer herds to reach high enough to destroy the habitat again the exclosures are remove. The exclosures serve a purpose and the results speak for themselves. The research is pretty much over and we are at application stage.
 

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Was scares me is the uneducated masses now have a platform to pervey their nonsense. I.e. the internet. It is refreshing to see the majority of people still do have some common sense.
 

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So the comparison of an area in an environment that is artificially controlled by humans to an area immediately outside of it that is controlled by nature is an invalid comparison.
Not actually. Without the fence, the entire area of the clear cut would quickly look just like the outside area did. The number of deer being the determing factor in how long it takes to eat desirable chow into oblivion.

And that is the point missed by those using the "salad bar" analogy, which btw, has no actual scientific validity.

Deer eat every day. They are not "unaturally" attracted to what's inside the fence. They just eat what they can get at and don't eat what they cannot get at. Whether it's inside of a fence, or now too high to reach (because it was once inside of a fence and got to mature to that point).
 

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just imagine how well the forests would do if there were not anymore deer to eat up all the vegetation!
i think theres too much kool-aid being drunk on both sides of them "exclosures"
 

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Here in the east where the deer population is just unfathomably high, the big problem we're seeing is deer selecting for invasive plants. Invasives have a leg up on native vegetation here anyway, with the highly fragmented landscape and lots of edge habitats, but since deer don't eat things like Garlic Mustard, Multiflora Rose, Oriental Bittersweet, Japanese Honeysuckle, and a host of other plants from other continents, that's pretty much all that grows here. Look out your window going down the road and probably 80% of the living plants you see aren't supposed to be here.
 

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John S said:
DFA, the point you are missing is when habitat is in bad condition even a moderate or appropriate size deer herd will prevent seedlings from growing. Once the trees inside the exclosure have grown beyond the ability of an appropriate deer herds to reach high enough to destroy the habitat again the exclosures are remove. The exclosures serve a purpose and the results speak for themselves. The research is pretty much over and we are at application stage.
I said as much that the fences have a purpose, just that it is not a valid to compare an uncontrolled (nature) environment to one that is located directly beside it but changed by the use of an exclusion fence to control deer feeding and herbicides to control the growth of undesirable species of plants.

And, by definition, an "appropriate" deer herd would not "destroy" their habitat, they would be in balance with it. In a totally balanced habitat, the deer are not extinct, thus some browsing and some regeneration would occur everywhere, would it not?

I thought that was a premise of the whole deer debate, that for a long time the habitat was allowed to have too many deer on it due to lack of natural predators and hunting kills, and in order to help jump-start the recovery, such exclusion zones are created. That the habitat is so badly damaged in some places that it cannot even sustain an appropriate sized herd for the size of the habitat, hence the need to artificially help the habitat recover faster to a more natural point of balance. That is a good thing.

And it is indeed a salad bar. If a concentration of food in one location does not attract deer, then food plots are a total waste of time, and the notion of crop damage is untrue. Would any farmer agree with that? Animals will congregate where the easiest meal is found, a soybean field, a food plot planted by hunters or conservationists, or an exclusion zone designed to maximize habitat recovery. Because there is an attractant to draw them there (in the form of abundant, lush young forest) but then they cannot get at the food, it is more likely that the area immediately surrounding the attractant is more heavily browsed than a uncontrolled area a mile away that is subject only to the natural patterns of deer browsing. If the herd is not in balance or the habitat in poor condition, that natural browsing could still be too much.

The exclusion of nearly all natural browsing in balance with the habitat size and composition, plus the application of herbicides, is an artificial condition. How is it not? It is intended to maximize the regeneration and growth of the forest species, not represent nature untouched by man. Not saying in any way this is wrong or not needed. Inside and outside of the fence was never intended to represent two forms of natural conditions. A natural condition is NOT zero deer and herbicides.

Just saying that comparing the inside of the fence to the immediate area outside is not a valid comparison.
 

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The vegetation situation is such an unnatural disaster resulting from decades of artificially high deer numbers that it takes "artificial" conditions to fix it.
Those of you who poke fun at the problem certainly don't have a clue about it and that is why you don't get respect.
The deer have indeed destroyed the forest ecosystem over much of PA. What is so funny about that?
 
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