Upcoming Science & Math Colloquium
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Time: 12:00 -12:50 pm
Place: South End Dining Room
Speaker:Alejandro A. Royo and Susan L. Stout
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Irvine, Pennsylvania
Title: Unraveling the Gordian Knot of Deer Management
Abstract: Throughout the 20th century, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) browsing threatened the sustainability of forest management throughout Pennsylvania. Beginning in 2000, we partnered with land managers and hunters to test a new approach that adaptively managed deer and forest habitat within a 30,000 hectare forested area known as the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative (KQDC). Our goals were to simultaneously improve deer herd quality and forest habitat health. We utilized novel programs offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission including antler restrictions, concurrent deer seasons, and increased antlerless allocations to intensify deer harvests. For over a decade, we implemented an aggressive and coordinated habitat management program, conducted intensive monitoring of deer populations and understory vegetation conditions, and engaged in a comprehensive program of hunter outreach. Over the first decade, deer densities within KQDC declined by 50%. The application of novel hunting policies and reductions in deer densities resulted in greater average deer weight and improved antler characteristics. As deer densities declined there was a concomitant decrease in browse impact on woody seedlings, a sharply diminished need to fence regeneration harvests, and significant improvements in herbaceous indicators of deer impact. Results from the study have influenced policy and practice in Pennsylvania and beyond.