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Scentless Spring: Ecosystems Under Siege by White-tailed Deer

A free lecture presented by Grow Native Massachusetts:
The overabundance of white-tailed deer is a growing problem. As a keystone species of forest ecosystems, they have a disproportionate impact on other species—wildflowers, tree seedlings, songbirds, and insects. Learn about the extensive damage caused by deer overpopulation on the Blue Hills Reservation and in other forests throughout our region. We can solve this by restoring the predation that once kept deer populations in check. Tom Rawinski is a US Forest Service botanist in Durham, NH.
For more information: http://www.grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts

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  • A former member
    A former member

    The presence of humans has already drastically altered nature, hardly any reason for us to intentionally harm more of nature or blame the victims.

    June 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    As far as the idea of it being 'insane' to manage nature, my take is that just by existing in the large numbers that we do and by having 'property', vehicles, roads (etc.), our species *is* managing nature. Our presence and also our active or passive decisions about how to live with the lands around us does affect the variety of species that live here currently and will continue to live here in New England. I'm not sure about the deer population in areas outside of the US, but I did find the examples about the mid-Atlantic states- and their potential implications for New England's future- to be compelling. I do want to read more about this issue and if anyone else does as well, here is a short piece I found that came out this spring: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/6316/20140311/excessive-deer-populations-inhibiting-native-forest-plant-survival.htm

    June 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have difficulty understanding how hunting would be the answer here. Nature takes care of itself if man gets out of the way. When hunters go for deer, they look for the strongest. This leaves the weaker more vulnerable members to procreate. Man has an overblown need to control nature, but by his own standards. If the deer population is truly out of balance, Nature will adjust. Survival of ghe fittest is a better answer than killing ghe strongest of ghe herd.

    June 12, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      I was also at the talk. It's not as though there is overpopulation of deer in every forest the world over. Right no we are seeing five times as many whales on Stellwagen Bank as last year. This is due to the presence of a species of fish they like to feed.

      June 14, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Should we begin whale hunting in order to protect the fish population? We're insane to think we can manage nature. I believe it is our responsibility to coexist consciously with nature and let nature take it's course.

      June 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks for commenting. I went to the talk and can try to give a short version of the speaker's p.o.v. on this topic. Basically, I think he would say that the deer population is out of balance precisely because man has had an overblown need to control nature (such as with suburbs, cities and roads everywhere creating fragmented landscapes for wildlife).
    Unfortunately, the idea that 'nature will adjust' in a time when there aren't many predators of deer means that there are many forests (particularly in NY and Pennsylvania) that are gradually becoming less and less forest-like due to new growth being wiped out by deer.
    So that is what is behind the logic of why the speaker was 'promoting' hunting. Hunting makes many uncomfortable (& many aspects of this are completely understandable to me). But, separate from the issue of 'good' or 'bad' hunting habits, those who hunt are playing the role of 'predator'. If natural systems were more in balance, other animal predators would.

    1 · June 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I understand your point of view on wanting to focus on human overpopulation, but biologists (and others) who are talking about reducing deer #'s are looking at different impacts than the ones you mention below. Deer are browsers so the kinds of ecosystem effects they can have are related to over-browsing habitat that others live and eat in (insects, birds, etc.)

    I volunteer at the natural history museum and one of the speakers we had in the last couple years was Jim Sterba, who has a book out called "Nature Wars" that looks at issues of human over-population affecting affecting other species. I haven't read his book but he spoke well on the topic.

    One thing I'm curious about with this talk is the idea of 'restoring predation'- it seems like there are a good number of urban & suburban coyotes in eastern MA (so I'm not sure what else they would want to realistically 'restore'!)

    June 4, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've heard this theory before. Read stories about geese supposedly destroying marshland in Maryland ("they have to be culled"), marauding boars who destroy potato patches (Italy) because they no longer have their natural feeding grounds, & so "must be hunted", etc. what on earth do the poor deer have to do with destroying the aroma of flowers-- so-- hunt them down? You'll have trouble finding them, there aren't very many left. Do deer eat songbirds and insects (see description)? Songbird absence has more to do with human overpopulation, not deer. Time to talk about the humans.

    3 · June 2, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Deer are very good eating....

    March 20, 2014

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