I’m absolutely delighted to be here among naturalist and conservation is it’s a wonderful opportunity for me I’ll be talking about deer and forests mostly there’s a lot of expertise in this room a lot of what I show you might not be new but maybe there’ll be some new and interesting things so in addition to you know monitoring deer impacts and traveling as I do I’m also very interested in the human dimensions of this issue so I always try to learn I gather stories like I used to collect plant specimens how many people in this room have contracted a tick-borne disease you might look around and get a sense of this all right how many of you are deer hunters fewer how many of you have struck a deer with your car okay now this one was for those deer hunters who raise their hands how many deer hunters have salvaged roadkill deer or even if you’re not a deer hunter I just thought I’d have some fun with that without further ado let’s see let’s put this in a broad perspective you know we just saw this great presentation about aquatic ecosystems and human influences on it well look what Rachel Carson says it’s good advice Nature has introduced great variety the man has displayed a passion for simplifying it he undoes the checks and balances and with the deer issue and so many of the other environmental problems we have this is the real problem and you know Rachel wrote Silent Spring white-tailed deer are having a very dramatic effect not so much on chestnut sighted Warblers but things like to–he’s word thrush is black and white Warblers rough grouse I wonder how she would feel today that we are in the midst of another silent strength you go to some of these conservation lands in Southold and you go out with ace birders like John SAP and you’ll hear all they used to be he’s here and wood thrushes so we’re in this this other Silent Spring also we are in what I call a scent list spring yeah as Tim mentioned you go to many of these forests and they’re missing flowers I mean you don’t expect many wild flowers and very acid heat these soils but on the rich pockets where there used to be flowers they’re gone so this is you know almost eastern US crisis of a cent las’ spring so Aldo Leopold you know he still guides us I think he wrote a thing is right and it tends to preserve the integrity stability and beauty of a biotic community it is wrong when it tends otherwise right and wrong natural resource managers conservation organizations this is the acid test of your work is your land healthy of course this sentence embodies the land ethic that Leopold developed and you know when I was an undergraduate at UMass my undergraduate advisor received his PhD into Leopold so my god we students we heard ad nauseam about Leopold we used to joke that we had to bow to Wisconsin every morning to pay homage and you know as an undergrad it didn’t quite sink in but by god you know it’s all come to be crystally clear to me I it’s a great great challenge we have to keep this foremost in our minds I asked my advisor once you know what was Aldo like and you’ll back then that wild like professor was smoking his big pipe you could smoke in colleges back then by the way and he looked at me said he was such a nice man then his next sentence he said it was so sad to witness the vicious attacks he into her because we’ve his views on deer management so back in 1943 after deer start to starve in Wisconsin Leopold convinced the state to have its first antlerless deer season and a record number of deer were killed but no such a backlash Leopold was shouted and they went back to you know protecting the mama dear building the deer herds so if Leopold had prevailed in 1943 we wouldn’t be in this pickle but you know there are powerful forces at work then there are still powerful forces at work now and finally a contemporary expert Gary alt used to work for the Pennsylvania Game Commission his quote is dear second only to humans and their influence on forest ecosystems you know

Gary gave about 150 talks across Pennsylvania mainly to hunting and sportsmen groups trying to get them more involved and taking a more active role in bringing balance to the deer herd like Leopold he was more so than Leopold I think he was threatened and ended up quitting his job but he was a great crusader for this trying to find a balance so that sets the stage with some of these folks and locally along Island there are still some heroes who are working hard on this you know mike Schaible john Sep res Wyler Steve Young and Jeff Standish you know they’re racking their brains out here at a place tall pines and Southold you know what to do they were trying to take this on with one hand tied behind their back there’s little outside money you can turn to because this issue is you know way too contentious and politically dangerous there’s statutes there’s laws on the book that limit what you can and cannot do with deer deer management the deer belong to all of us so it’s a really tough pickle but they are making progress there’s dialogue of course there’s a lot of newspaper stories about this and there’s consensus you know consensus is not unanimous yeah I consider if you get 51% of the town to vote for a certain action that’s a consensus so just some suggested reading dear land Nature Wars there’s some more technical thought wildlife in society the science of human dimensions and the last one is something I wrote it’s it’s online it’s a guide to do impact assessment and I’ll be working from that a lot today I’ll be showing lots of pretty pictures to hopefully keep you awake and interested these are the contents of that god I put together talk about fenced areas there one thing I never saw people write about or talk about that deer impacts are never uniform you can have one part of a forest where the deer are skittish with this lot of human activity and the vegetation will be much better developed than in the forest interiors say where the deer are more comfortable and have a greater impact here today gone tomorrow it’s really hard to say that a deer over abundant deer herd wiped out a plant species because if you look hard enough they’re still out there they’re tiny they may be a little refugia but the big point there is that those plants may still be present but they’ve lost their functional role in those ecosystems they no longer produce flowers that can nourish insect pollinators they don’t produce fruits they would nourish a wildlife etc they don’t provide the structure that’s so important for so many insects and other wildlife species so I meant you I was going to talk about deer and falls but a lot more also throwing in this idea of people us because we’re such a major force on this planet in hun Long Island you and the good old days wildlife biologist Delta Miss intersection foresters delt and this apart and never there to did meet in the middle and still today there’s some turf issues you know when I find myself creeping over here you know I get a little pushback from the wildlife crowd and I said wait no this is a part of my circle too so we all have to meet here in the middle which means we have to make this a multidisciplinary activity you know as a botanist I need to learn about wildlife biology as a wildlife biologist they need to learn to develop ways to monitor vegetation that’s cetera and you know every situation is I think the only constant here with is deer the white-tailed deer they are the same but you may be in you know different eco regions different plant communities and certainly the human aspect changes widely across the country so a lot of variables that go into ecosystem management so this is you know why we this what motivates us and again to reinforce the point if you don’t have the plant you don’t have the insect and you get cascading ecological effects so we know only just a minuscule bit about how this one stressor the white-tailed deer the keystone species how it is its effects are trickling down

right into probably nutrient altering nutrient regimes – I would think this is candid or Lilla you all folks down here probably have Turks cap Lily same deal deer love all members of the lilies just about so again wildlife belongs to all of us it doesn’t cost you anything to enjoy it or photograph it but if you want a harvest one for your personal consumption you need to buy a license and it’s a user pay user benefit relationship as many of you know it’s quite possible that deer provide more benefits than any other mammal at the same time they cause more harm and injuries so that’s the flip side of this the woman who hit anyone have an estimate of I’ve been curious if some states don’t track roadkill mortality it’s very hard some of them get scooped up a lot of them are underreported but in Connecticut they did a good study and they found that about 18,000 Road kills was their estimate per year and their hunter harvest is about 14,000 so more deer being killed and waste on the roads than harvested by hunters and put to good use you as a society looking at that it just makes me sick you know how would we at least half the number of Road kills to get it to 9,000 what would that take we would have to increase the hunting a lot more and that’s part of the problem New York State I heard an estimate recently from Paul Curtis about a hundred thousand deer per year get killed and mostly wasted so the white-tailed deer is prolific it’s smart it’s got great senses its adaptable for millions of years it’s had to evade predators including us for 11,000 years after glaciation Homo sapiens it is believed was the major predator of white-tailed deer Homo sapiens is the greatest predator this planet Nature has ever produced you know we can’t run down a gazelle and dispatch it with a bite in the neck we can’t swim underwater and catch fish in our teeth we can’t fly on the wing and echolocate insects but we have a mind that developed fire hook and line bow and arrow gunpowder natural poisons ingenious methods of prey deception all this has made us the planets greatest predator you nowadays a lot of our predation is done in factory slaughterhouses but you know leading up to this maybe we could be proud to say that we wiped out the Mastodon the cave bear the Irish elk look what we did accomplished in these recent thousand years so is this true all across especially Long Island Massachusetts Connecticut we’ve seen deer populations skyrocket in Connecticut at least is corresponding with a decline in open agricultural land and increase in forest land and coincidentally this is when the state’s assumed management responsibility for deer management so this is the rest of my talk basically young deer and plants dearie lots of plants in the woods they plants in your yards they eat them in cemeteries in agricultural fields which is not an insignificant problem here on Long Island I am learning oh my gosh sometimes we feed them right but you know they’ll also strip bark hemlock or witch hazel and I found a spot Rhode Island where they would tear up the ground to get the tubers of Indian cucumber root it took me two or three years to figure out why they were digging up the ground right deep sometimes they’ll eat mushrooms grow in logs and they actually eat like baby birds – there’s some obscure literature that they will eat nestlings so bucks they rub their antlers on saplings another form of damage a deer directly affect the growth of plants here’s a photograph of the lady slipper six days apart you can tell it’s the same plant by the hole in the leaf so this is my real tearjerker photo if any of you like orchids so chronic browsing there’s a term here that you’ll you’ll come across and you might want to look for this – it’s called a recalcitrant understory recalcitrant means stubborn and difficult to manage like some people I know but once this gets established this

fern understory it is there and it’s very difficult for anything else to get re-established so this is the legacy effect if all the deer were removed tomorrow from this forest it may take decades and decades for anything to be able to grow when within this dense fern understory now Pennsylvania understand there’s about a million acres of this they call it fern Park or fern savanna very tough stuff on Long Island we have another calcitriol species black huckleberry it’s not to preferred by the deer it takes advantage of the extra sunlight that develops when trees fall and no young saplings are coming in and once that’s established it’s very hard to deal with he can’t really get new trees established in there so the picture from Dutchess County but this is the so-called Hampton haircut right I don’t know about that a shot from southeastern Massachusetts a clear brows line on cedar deer exclosures you know I’ve been used a lot that quite illustrated this fence has been up probably close to 15 or 20 years and you know that’s least in the woods I remember but now it’s all bare and out there yes and deer do love poison ivy some people will say oh that’s good this particular spot was a three acre infestation of japanese stiltgrass found in Rhode Island and the Forester said oh my god what should we do because up till then people said sprayer get Boy Scouts to pull it but it didn’t address the root cause of the problem there’s a there’s a humungous deer herd up there in Scituate Rhode Island and the still grass was a symptom of that bigger problem so they took my advice and built a three acre fence around it and in three years – still grass was gone except along the little Woods Road so you have to work with nee-chan to define the stressors you know Phil see some little still grass is outside but it didn’t take long that was a fairly fertile site so I knew the rubus would spring up and the poison ivy worked like a charm also you be observant this is a stormwater retention Basin there’s lots of these on Long Island just behind a school in Andover we had students sixth graders measuring the trees inside outside of that fence or this fence around a fire tower who the greatest nectar bearing place that I come across a bristly sarsaparilla and pink dog babe if any of you like insects butterflies made of bees you find these plants and they just suck in them the pollinators of course outside this fence they make the plants maybe there they have no functional role then you can look for these little refugia inaccessible ledges I say in like publication that deer are not mountain goats although they can get you know up your patio steps they can be very adept in getting on steep zones but you can see how the while sarsaparilla was protected on that slope there also the limbs of fallen trees can give you good clues because they’ll protect an area for a number of years it’s a barrier for the deer to move in and you look at that you say oh my god you know those things of flowering under those branches there’s a word I had to invent called her big oak line a Cline is a type of gradient I was saying these gradients in the intensity of herbivory so if you begin at a lightning feature like a road or a parking lot or a trailhead where the deer are skittish you don’t see much deer impact but with distance away you see more and more impact so yeah I use the picture to illustrate how frightening you know 100 high-school students could be two deer I also had to talk about rabbits you know they they only grow so tall but when the snow is deep you could find browsed a miss you know three or four feet tall rabbits what they’ll do is I’ve taken thousands of pictures of rabbits they will snip off a stem you’re standing as high as I can bring it to the ground and then eat the whole thing so it’s different than a deer that will just snip off the ends of these things the rabbit will break off a snip off a branch bring it down and silently not till it’s all gone so you know deer have preferences just like us they do not like mile a minute

right Steve Young they do not like Inc berry some of these plants of poisonous or have thorns they generally don’t like ferns or pitch pine is a low preference species when you find impacts on low preference species that’s a pretty good sign that the deer are having a negative impact on the forest you know American beech has been described as a relatively low preference plant and that’s one reason why I find it so useful and others have you know if the beach is being suppressed it’s a sure sign that the more preferred tree saplings are being suppressed your one thing I’ve done many different areas we monitor the growth response of beach sprouts so if a deer management program is successful that should be the first indicator because they’ve got all this energy the parent tree just pumping energy up to this little sapling their shade tolerant so they can grow you know 19 inches a year so it’s a great thing to study here I just Illustrated that you know you take the measurements in early spring they grow taller by late summer by the next spring they’re short then they grow up so there’s some browsing taking place during the winter if you just mentioned this once a year you wouldn’t see this up-and-down phenomenon and then you have to interpret those graphs and this is the same site you know are they getting shorter here and getting taller here it could be it could be the variation in this one area because of more human traffic in one area the beaches grow taller we set up some plots at Masonic Preserve and you know I show this to people where we’ve been monitoring the beach sprouts and their static growth they’re not doing anything I said well at Masonic they can grow ten oops ten inches a year on average these are like 50 stems each so this is a result of intensive hunting at mushara Mick Preserve coupled with some low noose or nuisance permit depredation permit shooting that took place in the town so it was very encouraging that’s your first indicator a simple metric are they getting taller or shorter alright so some preferred plants you know lady slippers people the Mon the loss of them by Burnham’s flowering dogwood is facing double trouble and track nose is killing the bigger ones and eating the little ones and you know there are some exotic plants the deer love and winged euonymus or burning bush is one of them they’ll also eat bittersweet and privet as many of you know so the deer are having an impact on invasive plants too in a by suppressing them some plants like garlic mustard japanese stiltgrass deer hardly touched those so those increased dramatically hobble bursts any of you who’ve hiked in the Adirondacks this is the dominant understory in the Allegheny uplands where I looked at an area none of the plants flower over thousands of acres when you find a little patch of it they’re knee-high or shorter because this is deer candy the deer love this so at this one 5,000 acre forest which was the first in New York to receive deer management assistance program analyst tags called dmap tags private landowners could get these to help you reduce deer impacts in this property but this was the first state force in New York that gave that received these tags so the state gave the tags to themselves so hunters would stop by the office use a tag for a week and the goal was to try to get forest regeneration back on track because the flora stirs were not having any luck you know this is in the wood basket of New York station tango County the beautiful Allegheny uplands so we’ve been monitoring that for five years and looking at this one species yes it’s highly preferred what are the data showing after five years well you tell me again this is that same up-and-down thing okay late summer early spring late summer early spring late summer early spring late summer at least with this one indicators it’s not much indication to to see any release from deer browse pressure white Trillium you know this is also deer candy I think out in central and western New York it’s harder to deal with herbaceous plants because as soon as the rough the deer are starting to eat them so when we set up a monitoring program in 2009 this was May 7th an

average of 10 per hundred square meter circular plot so I say I’m gonna be a good scientist so I’m coming back May 7th exactly the next year so there’s May 7th they were down in two and a half and I said oh my god at this rate they’ll be gone in a couple years I came back the next year oh they’re up again yeah then it was obvious to me I should have been obvious earlier spring came very early in 2010 so by May 7th those plants were already up you know 10 days longer than they were up the previous year so it just shows you some of the problems of monitoring herbaceous plants we looked at them about a week apart and they went from 8 to 4 from 14 to 7 it just shows how dramatically an over a short window of time some of these herbaceous plants are being wiped out but we we are detecting when I think we all would agree is it’s this increasing trend for reasons we don’t quite understand because we don’t have the harvest data for that one specific spot we know it’s hunted so it works both ways it’s not a cut and dry it’s all interpretive when you have these data sets you know you just have to convince folks all right just a little tour of some of the places I visited deer impacts Plum Island that beautiful uh Solomon steel plant there’s virtually no deer there because they have to be removed to prevent the potential transmission of diseases like hoof and mouth from the animal disease lab to the mainland so you see the plants like this in full stature a lot of greenery that you don’t see now much of elsewhere on Long Island we didn’t get a single dot Oh deer tick or a single lone Star tick when we were there we did one person had one dog tick from walking around again it was like a different planet Ruth Oliver Conservation Area hammered and the people who live near these places for 20 or 30 years they’re so disgusted they get it they want they remember these forests when they were pleasant had flowers at Birds which are like preserved we were worried about forest disintegration you know this was hurricane sandy damage but there’s no new trees taking their place and a big storm is going to wipe out these trees and unless we can depress the deer herd these will become black huckleberry heathlands the grace estate 500 acres its hunted totally hammered another picture of this is of sandier soil site so you don’t see huckleberry up the Hudson Valley Harriman State Park is a place I visited and it’s over 20,000 acres you know it’s New York City’s outdoor hiking natural Wonderland and you go there there’s no kiosk talking about deer impacts but the forest there is crumbly you could drive a car through those words those are beech sprout two six inches tall forests impacted by deer have no resilience to disturbance so if a fire comes that’s going to accelerate the disintegration of the forest they can’t spring back and you know how many trees per acre does it take to call it a forest and when is that no longer a forest and I’m very very concerned about this as was dick Mitchell 18 years ago he wrote this about Harriman he explored it all over found terrible impacts eighteen years ago you think anything’s been done no there’s a lot of willful blindness and people turning a blind eye to this problem just too contentious too controversial there’s no pots of money to tap into it’s politically risky eighteen years after Mitchell wrote that nothing Binghamton University they’re trying to do their best they’ve got a density but I think it was 136 deer per square mile they know that because they flew the University and counted them with infrared photography they’re all about to do a sharp shooting event a couple years ago and then the university president thought it was too controversial and nixed it so the university professors are mounting all kinds of evidence to try to get them to do something because this is their outdoor classrooms this forest the natural is right on the BU campus and students are there every day looking at forest ecology stuff botany stuff and they’re in a cesspool of a natural area and they need to fix it but you know there’s resistance and no big pots of

money just one other place many of you been to Montezuma refuge just about all national wildlife refuges are hunted including Wertheim nearby very severe impacts locally on this refuge you know elsewhere you know a couple miles away the force may be health care so there we study anything that can be studied in this case spicebush you can look at you know if we were to remeasure this one you last year this used to be alive now it’s shrunk down so we just look at height and sometimes we have fun it’s a nice cooperative effort between the state and the feds and New York Audubon lime hollow Center for environment and culture in Cortland Peter garety is the assistant director there he’s got a cool they get so many children through their nature programs and peter has hooked them up into vegetation monitoring so the citizen science holds a lot of hope I think in this whole endeavor because the whole communities get behind it when kids are involved so another term that didn’t exist I had to invent eco environmental gentrification you can think of it going back hundreds of years in North America when we tamed the wilderness we shot the wolves and cougars we gentrified it and in the 20th century when so many of these little conservation lands were protected ah ha ha great conservation achievement well now let’s get rid of the unsavory characters no hunting no hunting because hunters kill animals and they threaten human health and safety right so get the hunters out so we we gentrified all these natural lands by excluding the major predators but the unintended consequence is that we thought we’d be safer without bullets and arrows flying through the air we’re not we’re getting tick-borne diseases we’re hitting do or that with our cars our wildlife safer that we’re not shooting them with bullets and arrows no there’s biotic homogeneous ation and it’s as I said they’ve become what’s a terms D going ecological slums he coined so the again the other big factors of urban sprawl you know a little bit about that here in Long Island you know 50 years difference there wasn’t this road there wasn’t this development and in Massachusetts where this picture was taken you have to be 500 feet from a house in order to hunt or 150 feet from a road so all of a sudden that deer have all this Refuge land where no one can can get them white-tailed deer overabundance has various definitions I like the last word and is a consensus determination that negative impacts outweigh positive and that’s exactly what happens at some of these town meetings like in South holds when the public show up and the town supervisor determines that yes there is a consensus that these negative impacts that way we don’t want it we want the positive benefits to far outweigh these negative impacts so tom Rudy talked wrote a paper I did by six criteria cap too many deer is the vegetation hammered the deer and poor condition are they infected with parasites are they transmitting them with people is there significant economic losses and finally are people at greater risk from vehicle collisions this woman who got injured she was under seventeen she did survive it was a horrible mess so I’m encouraged julie walked in she’s center stage there and her tick bites folks from East Hampton as I said we are making progress we are right we’re gaining more understanding about this complex issue and there are good people on the ground making a difference I love deer hunters this kid is my son that’s his first deer at at age 14 hunters have an important role to play but they can’t be so greedy just try to understand that for the good of all if we can reduce the herds to a certain level I mean hunters have never had it this good this is like off-the-charts hunters expect to shoot 810 deer at their boat this is abnormal you know weak hunters can live with the reduced herd lay donors play a big role and traditional hunting doesn’t always reduce deer herds this was a paper published in 2013 these new jersey hunters threw everything they could at the deer then they flew over and counted the deer and it’s they couldn’t get it below about 40 i which

traditional hunting could so if you want to solve the problem first need insight and i hope you gained a little bit more of that today you need empathy for the deer themselves that gets sick that get tragically killed on roads for the people the farmers children who get Lyme disease action you know if you have it’s great empathy that compels you to act and we are seeing more of that in fact right here at the Brookhaven National Lab there was a culling highly successful this winter and perseverance so it doesn’t matter what values want to preserve or enhance deer having negative impacts on all of them and professionals from many fields many of you in this audience great candidates for this need to get involved because this would require a lot of integrative thinking to get creative solutions so thank you very much I think we have time for one question you please go to the mic I’d be interested in your thoughts on smilax as a recalcitrant species considering that it’s photosynthetic thorny stems survive perfectly fine after the deer completely defoliate them and we have these seemingly monoculture under stories of smilax in some areas I think that would certainly fit the bill as one at beshallach once it’s totally established it’s just a jungle and the deer can’t even walk in there when it’s short and young it’s a preferred plant so it springs the lid to multiflora rose which also has 30 defense a real small multiflora rose deer love it but once it gets bigger and it gets a thorny armature it becomes quite resistant but that’s a good question and it’s okay thank you okay we are now at our break so yeah