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Though this might be of interest to some.

Wildlife biologists often speak about "balancing" the deer herd. What does this mean? How many of us really know just exactly what it is they are trying to accomplish, how to go about it, or how to know when we have gotten there? Penn State Cooperative Extension is offering several programs this spring on deer and habitat management -- balancing the herd.

Deer populations larger than the habitat can support pose serious problems for homeowners, agricultural producers, woodland owners, and the public. Safety is one issue affecting many people -- from Lyme disease to deer-vehicle collisions. A recent Maryland survey found that 1 out of 6 citizens knows someone who hit a deer with a car. Deer browsing reduces farm crop yields, damages landscape plantings, and reduces forest plant diversity. Managing deer populations so they are in balance with the available habitat is essential.

Research has repeatedly documented deer impacts on tree regeneration and forest herbaceous plant diversity. The ability of a forest to support deer is a function of both deer density and forage availability. By selectively browsing preferred palatable plants, deer influence tree seedling numbers, species composition, and seedling height growth. Because deer are free to move, it is important to consider their management at a landscape level and to understand how concentrated preferential feeding can shift plant communities. As deer feed on one species, another species that is not preferred can become increasingly common. Research findings indicate that when deer numbers exceed what the land is capable of supporting, deer can severely impact the forest’s ability to regenerate itself following natural or man-made disturbances.

Landscape level forage availability relates directly to the ability to support a healthy deer population. When deer populations are out of balance with available habitat, preferred forage species decline and subsequent foraging is even more detrimental to preferred plant species. Preferred plants continue to decline in abundance and may even be locally eliminated from the landscape. In regions where over-browsing for decades has severely depleted food species, even very few deer have major impact and the habitat can only support very few animals. In landscapes with little preferred forage, deer numbers in balance with available habitat must be kept low. To sustainably increase the number of healthy deer the habitat can support, landscape forage availability must increase. It is possible to increase desirable forage through management activities such as controlling undesirable vegetation and harvesting trees.

When deer numbers are out of balance with their habitat, look for obvious browse lines, evidence of severe browsing on non-preferred species such as American beech, striped maple, and black cherry, and forest understories dominated by species deer avoid (e.g., hayscented fern, striped maple, American beech, hophornbeam, mountain laurel, blueberry, spicebush). Across Pennsylvania it is relatively easy to recognize areas where the deer-habitat balance has been upset for years: non preferred plant species, such as hayscented fern, cover the forest floor. Many Pennsylvanians have never seen a healthy forest understory. Can these habitats recover over time? How do we move them from undesirable species to create better deer habitat? What kinds of management decisions will lead to the best solutions? Resource managers have some of the knowledge and tools necessary to improve conditions, but sometimes the answers are evasive.

Web seminars and hands-on workshops offered this spring by Penn State Educators and partners will answer some of your questions. The first webinar entitled "Regenerating Hardwood Forests; Managing Competition, Deer, and Light," is on February 9 at noon and 7 p.m. The second webinar, entitled "Deer Habitat Management," is on March 9 at noon and 7 p.m. For webinar details or to register to participate, visit:

Penn State will also offer several hands-on workshops entitled "Deer Density and Carrying Capacity Workshops." These workshops are open to landowners, hunters, and anyone interested in learning more about deer and their habitat. During the session participants learn how to evaluate a given habitat, how its condition relates to deer biology, density, and carrying capacity. For a listing of dates and locations for these workshops, visit the Renewable Natural Resources Extension webpage at:, and click on the "Calendar" Quick Link on the right hand side of the page.

The Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program provides publications on a variety of topics related to woodland management. For a list of free publications, call 800 234 9473 (toll free), send an email to [email protected], or write to Forest Stewardship Program, Forest Resources Extension, The Pennsylvania State University, 416 Forest Resources Building, University Park, PA 16802. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and USDA Forest Service, in Partnership with Penn State's Forest Resource Extension, sponsor the Forest Stewardship Program in Pennsylvania.

Written by: Dave Jackson, Extension Forester

Phone: 814-355-4897

Email: [email protected]


Event Calendar

Central PA (Blair, Centre, Clinton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, and Union Counties)

Wednesday and Thursday, February 4 and 5. Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture: Harvesting in the Back Forty: Agroforestry in the Mid Atlantic and Beyond. Penn Stater Conference Hotel, State College (Centre County). Registration $140; limited to the first 30 participants. Visit for more information and to register.

Saturday, February 27. Central Region Forest Landowners Conference: What Every Forest Landowner Needs to Know, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m, Penn State School of Forest Resources Building, University Park. Registration is $20 per person. Please register by February 19. Contact Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension – Centre County, 814-355-4897 or [email protected].

Saturday, March 13. Blair Forest Landowners Conference, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Altoona Ramada. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $10 (includes lunch). General conference questions: contact Mark Maser, 814-472-1865. Registration to Norma Smith, 814-695-3298, RR 2 Box 223, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.

Tuesday, March 23. Pennsylvania Tree Farm Program: Tree Farm Inspector Certification Training, 6 – 9 p.m., Forest Ressources Building, Room 105, University Park (Centre). Pre-registration required. Contact Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension – Centre Coounty, 814-355-4897 or [email protected].

Sunday, March 28. Perry/Juniata Woodland Owners Association: Tree Farm, the Forest Stewardship Program, and Cost-Share Programs, 2 p.m., Tuscarora State Forest Office Building, Rte 274, Blain. Contact Don Kline, 717-536-3191.

Saturday, April 3. Deer Density and Carrying Capacity Workshop, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Brush Mountain Sportsmanâ’s Association, Pinecroft (Blair). Registration $15 (includes lunch). Please pre-register by contacting Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension – Centre County, 814-355-4897 or [email protected].


Northeast PA (Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Monroe, Northumberland, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties)

Saturday, February 27. Women and their Woods: Farm Bill Opportunities for Landowners, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., PPL Environmeental Learning Center. Register by contacting the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, 570-226-3164 or [email protected]. Snow date – March 6.

Saturday, March 6. Northeast Woodland Owners Conference: Economic Benefits from Your Woodland, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Penn College of Technology, Williamsport. Registration is $30 per person or $50 for couple from the same property. Contact Bob Hansen, [email protected], 570-724-9120.

Saturday, March 13. Forestry Tax and Estate Planning Issues for Landowners, 9 a.m. – Noon., PPL Environmentall Learning Center. Register by contacting the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, 570-226-3164 or [email protected]. Snow date – March 20.

Tuesday, April 6. Deer Density and Carrying Capacity Workshop, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Fin, Fur, and Feather Tradiing Post, Haneyville (Lycoming). Registration $15 (includes lunch). To pre-register, contact Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension – Centre Coounty, 814-355-4897 or [email protected].

Saturday, May 1. Women and their Woods: Wooded Wetlands, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Milford, PA. Register by contacting the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, 570-226-3164 or [email protected].


Northwest PA (Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren Counties)

Saturday, January 30. Erie Landowner Conference, Penn State Behrend, Erie. Cost is $20 per person; $15 for each additional person/guest. Contact the Warren County Extension Office at 814-563-9388 for more information or to register.

Saturday, February 20. Clarion Forest Landowner Conference, St. Michaels’ Church, Fryburg. Cost is $15 per person. Contact the Clarion County Extension Office at 814-223-9028 for more information or to register.


Southeast PA (Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York Counties)

Thursday, February 11. Cumberland Woodland Owners Association: Quality Deer Management and Forests, 7 p.m., Cumberland County Extension Office, Room PS-1. Contact Fred Peabody, 717-776-3565.

Thursday, March 11. Cumberland Woodland Owners Association: Forest Regeneration and the Future of the Forest, 7 p.m., Franklin County Extension Office. Contact Fred Peabody, 717-776-3565.

Thursday, April 8. Cumberland Woodland Owners Association: Field Tour of Native Plants at Spring Haven, 6:30 p.m. Contact Fred Peabody, 717-776-3565.

Wednesday, May 19. Cumberland Woodland Owners Association: Reineman Sanctuary Field Trip, 7 p.m. Contact Fred Peabody, 717-776-3565.


Southwest PA (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties)

Saturday, March 6. Woodland Owners of the Southern Alleghenies Regional Forest Landowners Conference: Forest Stewardship and Invasives, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Breezewood Fire Hall,, Breezewood (Bedford). Contact Ben Tresselt, 814-652-9150 or [email protected], for more details.

Saturday, March 13. Western Pennsylvania Landowner Conference, Penn State Beaver, Monaca. Cost is $20 per person. Contact the Forest County Extension office at 814-755-3544 for more details or to register.



To participate in one of these online seminars, you must be registered and have a “Friend of Penn State� user ID and password. Visit the website to register, see the list of upcoming seminars with descriptions, and to view recordings of previously held seminars. Seminars are held the second Tuesday of every month at noon and 7 p.m. Participants need to have a high speed internet connection and speakers to attend.

Second Tuesday of the Month Series

Tuesday, February 9. Regenerating Hardwood Forests: Managing Competing Plants, Deer, and Light. Presentation by David Jackson, Forest Resources Extension Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Noon and 7 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9. Deer Habitat Management. Presentation by Tim Pierson, Forest Resources Extension Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Noon and 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 13. Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania. Presentation by Steven B. Jacobs, Urban Entomologist, Penn State Department of Entomology, Noon and 7 p.m.
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