As anyone who farms, has a garden or landscapes with expensive shrubs and flowers knows, too many deer browsing on the flora can quickly decimate a shockingly large percentage of it while leaving behind less desirable growth, usually of little value to people, deer or other wildlife. Many people probably don’t consider that this can also occur in our natural wild flora environments, such as our forests.
Now because of deer over-depredation to forestlands, the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation plans to issue special Deer Management Assistance Program permits (DMAP) so additional deer may be harvested from problematic state forests (SF) where overabundant deer densities are destroying the flora. One such area is the Beaver Meadow SF here in Chenango County. Deer taken under the DMAP permits will be in addition to those harvested under regular licenses and DMP permits.
In its report, the Division of Lands and Forests, Region 7 office in Sherburne said: “In scientific research, deer are understood to be a ‘keystone herbivore,’ because they exert both direct and indirect effects in forest ecosystems. An example of a direct effect from deer browsing would be the elimination of preferred plants due to over browsing. Preferential browsing leads to a decrease in plant diversity and an increase in the abundance of unpalatable species. Without the recruitment of new trees and shrubs, the understory layer is eventually reduced to a small collection of undesirable species including, fern, striped maple, and American beech. Over time, these species can take over a forest understory and prevent other more desirable species from growing. This situation is common on State forest land in our region.