In looking over the minutes of the April NRC meeting I see an interesting item on the agenda, #2 below.
This item would hopefully be a discussion on the effects of the DNR's deer population goals and the effect of that target population on Michigan's native fauna and flora.
12:15 p.m. NRC POLICY COMMITTEE ON WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES
Lansing Center, Room 202
1. National Fish Habitat Initiative – Update
2. Forest Impacts from Deer
3. Wildlife Regulations
At least that is my interpretation of the DNR's mission statement,
"committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations." ,
and their deer management policy,
<< General Policy >>
The Department's goal is to manage the deer herd using management practices based on scientific research to:
1. Maintain healthy animals and keep the deer population within limits dictated by the carrying capacity of the range and by its effect on native plant communities, agricultural, horticultural, and silvicultural crops and public safety.
2. Maintain an active public information program designed to acquaint the public with the methods of deer management and the conditions needed to maintain a healthy, vigorous herd.
The Department shall develop procedures to implement this policy.
and their Operations Management Guidance manual (the closest thing that have to a forest plan, by the way maybe someone in DNR can update us on when we will see a draft of new State Forest Plan due to be finished in June?),
" 4.1.1 - Principle 1. Sustainable Ecosystem-based Management
Sub-Principle 1.3 - Maintenance of Biotic Productivity
Where over-population of mammalian herbivores is present, detrimental impacts upon natural and
artificial forest regeneration can be significant. Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis), white cedar (Thuja
occidentalis), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), and Canada yew (Taxus canadensis) are preferred
browse species that decrease in abundance when subjected to light to moderate deer browsing
(Stoeckeler et al., 1957). Studies indicate that species ric hness of tree seedlings begins to decline at
deer densities of 4 deer/km2, and that species richness and abundance of shrubs and herbaceous
vegetation declines between 4 and 8 deer/km2 (Tilghman, 1989; deCalesta, 1992). Changes in the
species composition of forests can occur as a result of selective browsing, with displacement of
conifers (hemlock, white cedar and Canada yew) by hardwoods (Frelich and Lorimer, 1985; Alverson
et al., 1988). In 1985 Frelich and Lorimer estimated that if no action was taken to control browsing in
portions of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park where it is currently the major dominant
species, hemlock will become only a minor component of the forest in less than 150 years. Tilghman
(1989), deCalesta (1994), and Healy (1997) suggest that when the forest management objective is
sustaining biodiversity, the relative deer density should be one-third (or 4 deer/km2) of the relative
deer density associated with maximum sustained yield of deer for hunter harvest. "
In the minutes from the meeting, no mention is made about item #2, Forest impacts from deer. So I have some questions for the DNR/NRC:
1. Will the committee ever discuss impact of deer on other plants and animals?
2. Will they use newest peer reviewed scientific research in this discussion?
3. Will they monitor effects of deer browsing on plant communities, so we can adaptively change management programs to reflect what we learn?
4. What monitoring is in place today, that looks at deer impact on plants?, animals?
5. Will the NRC/DNR report to the public and to this list-serve on these questions?
It is clear, as least to me, that the new deer population goals, all areas well over 20 deer per square mile, are at odds with scientific research on impacts to native plant and animal communities of high deer densities. The goal is also at odds with the new operation management guidance created to lead the DNR on a sustainable path.
But will the DNR/NRC report to the public on the trade-offs inherent in the way they are managing the deer herd?
On Apr 5, 2006, at 3:59 PM, Rita Jack wrote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2006
Contact: Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014
Natural Resources Commission to Meet Thursday in Lansing
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hold its regular monthly meeting Thursday, April 6, at the Lansing Center located at 333 E. Michigan in Lansing. Two policy committees of the NRC will meet prior to the meeting of the Committee of the Whole.
At 10:30 a.m. in Room 202, the NRC Policy Committee on Technology, Information, Marketing and Education will meet to discuss the State Explorer program and programs in state parks and recreation areas. At 12:15 p.m., the Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries will meet in Room 202 to receive an update on the National Fish Habitat Initiative and to discuss several proposed wildlife regulation changes.
The Committee of the Whole will convene at 3 p.m. in the Governor's Room of the Lansing Center. Public appearances before the NRC will begin at 4:30 p.m. Persons wishing to address the NRC should see Teresa Gloden at the meeting to be placed on the agenda. The business portion of the meeting will commence after the public appearances are concluded.
To see the complete agenda of the NRC meeting, please visit the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on "Inside the DNR."
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.