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Re: E-M:/ Hartwick Pines threatened by deer

Enviro-Mich message from Barbara Jean Madsen <bjmadsen@umich.edu>


Certainly, if all other things remain equal, an increase in the number of
wolves and/or cougars (if there actually are any reproducing cougars out
there) should reduce the size of the deer herd.  I don't know how many
predators are needed.

Probably just as great if not a greater factor in the overabundance of
deer is the kind of forest management practiced; we now have many more
times the acreage of early-successional forest that deer like than were
present at the time of settlement.  Some of this land is actively managed
to encourage the production of deer, because hunting is such a huge
business in Michigan.  At the same time, many hunters concentrate on
getting large bucks, instead of taking does.  This kind of hunting does
very little, if anything, to control the population, and is in fact the
opposite of the effect of natural predators.  People tend to go after the
biggest, healthiest individuals; natural predators take the weakest.

Regardless of the financial interests of the hunting community, when whole
tree species (as well as other plant species) are being consumed to
extinction over large areas, there are too many deer.  And if we are now
going to refer land-management decisions to drinkers in bars, we're in
real trouble.

--Barb Madsen

On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 Jermohl@aol.com wrote:

> Deer have an impact on forests, sometimes a large impact, no argument there
> from me. As far as Hartwick Pines, the hardwood is several decades old so the
> deer impact on the pine stand converting to hardwood is irrelevant. But how
> many deer are too many? Everyone is an expert on this question. There is the
> social aspect and biological aspect. If you are feeling adventurous do the
> following. Go into any bar in the U.P. except maybe hipster bars in Marquette or
> farmer bars in Menominee County and start talking in a loud voice to your partner
> or anyone who will listen about how there are too many deer. See how many
> friends you make. Then go to any other bar except the hipster bars, but the farmer
> ones are ok now. Start talking about how there are too many wolves. See how
> many friends you make there. If you don't spend much time in rural upper
> Michigan, you might be surprised at which bar makes you the most friends.
> Jerry Mohlman
> Barbara and Tim,
> Will the recent increases in wolf and cougar populations help the situation?
> Or, if deer are at twice their pre-European population, only when wolves and
> cougars get to twice their pre-European populations?  In the meantime, need
> to increase hunting?
> --Eric Piehl
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net On Behalf Of Barbara Jean Madsen
> Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 1:00 PM
> To: Tim Flynn
> Cc: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> Subject: Re: E-M:/ Hartwick Pines State Park Hosts Maple Syrup Day
> Tim makes some excellent points here.
> With regard to the effects of deer, the overpopulation of deer in especially
> the eastern UP is resulting in an almost complete lack of regeneration of
> northern white-cedar.  All the white cedar swamps and upland stands have
> incredibly complete browse lines; there is absolutely nothing below 5 or 6
> feet off the ground.  In some places the deer are so desperate that they
> have been eating grossly unpalatable species like Scots pine with the same
> intensity.  This loss of reproduction endangers the habitat over large areas
> in northern Michigan, including habitat for birds and many rare plants.  It
> also makes restoration or reconstruction of white cedar swamps extremely
> expensive and difficult, if not impossible.  This is one of the aspects of
> land management that must be addressed soon in a meaningful way if we are
> not to suffer complete loss of thousands of acres of extremely important
> habitat.
> --Barb Madsen

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