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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Like the YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON INITIATIVE in the Rocky Mountain West which seeks to create large protected wild habitat with continuous wildlife safety corridors linking those habitats, the HARVARD FOREST WILDLANDS AND WOODLANDS PARADIGM is laser focused on protecting 70% of New England's remaining forests in a matrix of both working forests(Woodlands) and forever wild forests(Wildlands)...................Our friend and head of the HARVARD FOREST, David Foster is tirelessly collaborating with land trusts, industry and private landowners to make this vision a reality over the next 50 years

W&W at a Glance
Wildlands and Woodlands calls for conservation of 70% of New England as forests—while we still have this spectacular chance. W&W celebrates the many committed people conserving land today.

And offers new ways to collaborate to double the pace of conservation.
Together we will sustain the forested and natural landscapes that in turn sustain us. 

From: Meril, Rick
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:26 AM
To: 'Foster, David'; Harvard Forest
Subject: RE: Wildlands and Woodlands

David………… and your colleagues and partner groups are to be commended for "walking the walk" and not just "talking the talk"……………I always think about fantastic it would be for some of  successful hi-tech entrepreneurs(Facebook/Google/Amazon, etc, etc) to do a "Roxanne Quimby" and donate $50 to $100 million a piece to get land preservation accomplished in a connected, one fell swoop move…………………All of the Tech guys verbalize their concern for the environment,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,where is their "walk the walk" on the foundation pinning of biodiversity,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,land preservation?

Best to you David……………….


From: Foster, David
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:07 AM
To: Meril, Rick
Subject: Wildlands and Woodlands


Hope all is well with you.  And, thanks very much for your recent support of W&W.  I was just up in Orono, Maine  for a PhD thesis exam where the student had analyzed the history of land protection in the three northern New England states.  He estimates that if efforts continues as they have for the last two decades that the W&W goal of 70% of the landscape conserved will be reached in 85 years (as opposed to the 50 projected in W&W).  But, if we can make the same kind of increase in land protection that we have three times in history we will reach the goal in 45 years.  Wonderful to see folks working with a vision as a goal.

Best, David

David R. Foster   978.724.3302
Director, Harvard Forest, Harvard University
324 N. Main Street   Petersham, MA 01366

How might the New England landscape change in 50 years, and what consequences might follow for people and the environment?

A groundbreaking study released in mid-December, led by the Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution, examined four possible scenarios for the future of the Massachusetts landscape depending on land-use decisions we make today. The researchers' most significant finding indicates that recent forest loss trends, if they continue unabated, will undermine land conservation gains, damage water quality throughout the state, and limit the ability of the landscape to protect against climate change. 

The results of the study are summarized in a new report, Changes to the Land: Four Scenarios for the Future of the Massachusetts Landscape. In the study, Harvard Forest and Smithsonian scientists brought together a diverse group of eight natural resource professionals to develop four plausible land-use futures, and used sophisticated computer models to conduct a 50-year, acre-by-acre analysis of how each alternative would affect the valuable ecosystem benefits currently provided by the Commonwealth's forested landscape.

The four landscape scenarios developed and analyzed for Massachusetts are Recent Trends, Opportunistic Growth, Regional Self-Reliance, and Forests as Infrastructure. The scenarios reflect different amounts and intensities of land development, timber harvesting, farmland expansion, and forest conservation.

Scenarios are not predictions but they can showcase important ways that our land use decisions today can have tremendous consequences for the world we live in tomorrow.

One central finding of the study is that the Forests as Infrastructure Scenario, which 1) increases the pace of conservation, 2) focuses on far more clustered development, and 3) expands sustainable forestry, ranks the highest overall in terms of protecting the many water, climate, wildlife, flood control, and other benefits provided to people and nature by our forested landscapes. 

As noted by lead author Jonathan Thompson, Senior Ecologist at Harvard Forest, "What we found is that land-use decisions have immediate and dramatic impacts on many of the forest benefits people depend on…The results of the study show that sprawl, coupled with a permanent loss of forest cover in Massachusetts, create an urgent need to address land-use choices."

Given the major transitions the Commonwealth is facing today—not only in forest cover but also in state leadership and public policy—it is important to consider the policy implications of this study. The Executive Summary includes a short Policy Addendum that highlights key areas where Massachusetts can help conserve nature's vital benefits through 1) recommitting to land conservation, 2) redoubling land use policy and planning, and 3) promoting sustainable forestry. 

The researchers have received National Science Foundation funding to extend the study throughout the rest of New England over the coming decade. 

The Republican legacy of conservation reaches as far back as Abraham Lincoln, who in 1864 enacted legislation protecting the land that would become Yosemite National Park...............Teddy Roosevelt set aside more land for National Parks(beginning with Yellowstone) than any President in our history............ It was Dwight Eisenhower who established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed many of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation in place today(Clean Water/Clean Air/Endangered Species Acts)............Unfortunately, the Republicans who understand that protecting our planet is good for all creatures and long term economic prosperity have had to change their name from REPUBLICANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION to CONSERVAMERICA because their credibility and ability to get things done has been undermined by the climate science denial party of Romney, Santorum and Limbaugh whose mantra is "f---k the environment, tree huggers are pussies and not real Americans"...........With it's new name, will CONSERVAMERICA be able to alter the Republican party culture, where denial of climate science, endangered species and land protection has become another litmus test for the Republican definition of being a "real American"??????????????

Republican Environmental Group Drops 'Republican' From Its Name

WASHINGTON -- After 16 years of trying to marry their party's support for drilling and climate change denial with environmental protection, Republicans for Environmental Protection is dropping the word "Republican" from its name.
The group's new name, ConservAmerica, is designed to "explain the connection between conservatism and conservation" and underscore the group's ethic of stewardship.
"Our mission is staying exactly the same," said David Jenkins, the group's vice president for government affairs. "It's more of an emphasis issue, switching from the emphasis being on Republican -- not that we're separating ourselves from that at all. It's just putting the emphasis more on connecting conservation and conservative, which are born of the same root."
The Republican legacy of conservation reaches as far back as Abraham Lincoln, who in 1864 enacted legislation protecting the land that would become Yosemite National Park. It was Dwight Eisenhower who established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed many of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation in place today.

Since then Republicans have declared war on the EPA, with top GOP presidential candidates at odds even with the Tea Party in their promises to strip the agency of federal funding. After examining more than 150 votes aimed at stripping environmental protections last year, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, declared, "This is, without doubt, the most anti-environmental Congress in history."

Yet, to hear Jenkins speak, the party hasn't changed all that much. He blames talk radio and "the left" for mischaracterizing his party."Someone needs to be standing up there and saying, 'Hold it, this is not what conservatism is about,'" he said. "It's always been really about conservation and stewardship and that's been sort of the glue that holds all the other tenets of conservatism together. So we wanted to be making that point."
Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, isn't buying it.
"Under either name ... they face a fundamental challenge that the pro-conservation party of Roosevelt, Nixon, Schwarzenegger and McCain has become the climate science denial party of Romney, Santorum and Limbaugh," he told Politico."Changing its name is unlikely to alter the Republican party culture, where denial of climate science has become another litmus test," he added, while praising the group for its dedication to conservation.—a shame this is(Blogger Rick)

While ConservAmerica may take a bit more time to explain than the self-evident "Republicans for Environmental Protection," Jenkins says the new name is much more user-friendly with respect to social media and public outreach.
"'Republicans for Environmental Protection' is a mouthful," Jenkins said.
The group will keep its green elephant mascot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In addition to PROJECT COYOTE's outstanding advocacy work in getting Communities to institute managment plans that foster Human/Coyote co-existence, COYOTESMARTS out of Providence, Rhode Island is doing it's own good deed on the East Coast............This Organization's information campaign led Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth to enact “no-feeding” ordinances, critical to mitigating and preventing Coyote habituation to humans

CoyoteSmarts campaign aims 

to inform public on how to best

 ‘coexist’ with coyotes

In November 2010, a young coyote was trapped near
 the Middletown Police Department and then collared
with a GPS tracking system. The trap was padded not
 to injure the animal.
 350  30 +10  0  0  7
A new campaign — CoyoteSmarts — is being launched to better inform Rhode Islanders how to coexist with the canine predators.
Why teach people about coyotes?
“They’re here to stay,” says Christie Smith, one of the campaign organizers.
Coyotes first returned to the state in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the past 10 to 20 years that their numbers grew to levels that began to concern the public. Since then, they are commonly seen and heard and pet disappearances have been blamed on them.
To inform the public how best to manage the population, several environmental and wildlife groups have partnered to create a website ( and to give talks to school and community groups.
The initiative will begin by focusing on Aquidneck Island, where coyotes have been more prevalent. Their arrival inspired the start of The Narragansett Bay Coyote Study, which since 2004 has been monitoring the movement and locations of coyotes to better understand their breeding and feeding behaviors.
The information led Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth to enact “no-feeding” ordinances to address what the study identified as a serious problem.
“We have to ensure there’s no easy pickings for them,” said Smith, including leaving pet food bowls outdoors or intentionally putting food out for the wild animals. “You have to make your property not friendly for them.”
Smith serves as executive director of Middletown’s Potter League for Animals, which has taken a lead role in coyote awareness as the island’s largest shelter for cats and dogs.
The league has teamed up to create CoyoteSmarts with the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the Aquidneck Land Trust, the Norman Bird Sanctuary and The Conservation Agency (which runs the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study).
Smith said there has been no notable uptick in coyote problems — nor any attacks on humans — but the groups were able to land grant money to better inform the public how to deal with a predator that has clearly settled here for good.
The money for CoyoteSmarts comes from the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rhode Island Foundation.
“What we hope to achieve is a two-pronged approach, applied uniformly throughout the island, that includes non-lethal methods for controlling coyote populations, combined with lethal means as needed to deal with problem individuals,” Smith said. “We believe it is possible for coyotes and people to coexist, but only in the context of an informed citizenry, sound public policy, and the ability and willingness to share information.”
On Twitter: @RichSalit

Sadie Parr of WOLF AWARENESS calling on all of us to oppose the proposed Britisn Columbia Wolf Management plan

From: sadie parr <>
Date: Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 3:28 PM
Subject: Call to Action : "Stop killing. Start conserving."

Hello supporters of wild wolves, healthy ecosystems, and biodiversity!  PLEASE SHARE THIS WIDELY!  A New Management Plan was released for BC wolves April 17th which we CANNOT allow the government to get comfortable with.  Wolves need your help NOW more than ever to ensure that they have a vibrant and natural future in British Columbia.  Please take a moment this Earth Day to let the BC government know how you feel about the new management plan.  TOGETHER we can create CHANGE.  Write now!
Urge the BC Government to STOP KILLING and START  CONSERVING wolves under the New Wolf Management Plan                   
WOLVES have no voice in this, they are counting on YOURS!   66% of respondents were AGAINST the
original draft plan, why has the government not listened to our concerns?  Do not let politics trump ecology or ethics.   
      CONCERNS with the proposed BC wolf management plan and process:
  • Plan condones the killing of wolves for recreation and/or amusement purposes.
  • Proposed plan does not include objectives to establish protected areas for the long-term conservation of wolves (or other large carnivores).
  • Plan contains a grossly exaggerated view of wolf impacts on the livestock industry, which is not based on accurate data and has no accountability.
  • Plan is not using the best available wildlife science, ignoring relevant knowledge that contradicts much of the plan, ignoring the importance of social relationships shared by wolves in place of maintaining a mere existence/presence on the landscape.
  • Plan does not recognize the intrinsic value of wolves.
  • Plan includes hunting and trapping practices, which are out of sync with claims of ethics or fair chase (eg. use of bait, use of neck snares, use of mechanised vehicles).
  • Plan does not take into account wolf deaths other than regulated hunting/trapping, disregarding cumulative impacts of government wolf control actions for caribou and/or livestock, wolf deaths on human transportation routes, loss of habitat, etc.  Plan allows major hunting/trapping of wolves, which can  triggers social disharmony affecting quality of life and ecological role.
      APPEALS to decision makers regarding the BC wolf conservation and management plan:
  • Incorporate IUCN Wolf Specialist Group recommendations from Manifesto on Wolf Conservation.
  • Include designated areas for real and permanent protection for multiple wolf packs to ensure future social stability and unique genetic identity. (i.e. specifically designated large carnivore conservation areas).[i],[ii]  
  • Recognize the importance of the family unit to wolf conservation. 
  • Recognize the intrinsic value of wolvesi,ii
  • Return to former requirements of species licences, bag limits, quotas, shorter restricted seasons, and mandatory reporting. 
  • Ban the use of bait, neck snares and mechanized vehicles to align with fair chase and ethics. 
  • Administer education programs for the livestock industry about methods of prevention to reduce depredation events and foster coexistencei,ii.
  • Evaluate and respond to cumulative impacts/threats on wolves.
Please contact the following decision makers, consider including these points in your correspondence as well as your own.  Demand better for wolves, and better for British Columbia's wild and natural legacy.

Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson
                email:     phone: 250-387-6240     fax: 250-387-1040
                Mailing address: PO Box 9049,  Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC  V8W 9E2

                BC Premier Christy Clark
                email:     phone: 250-387-1715     fax: 250-387-0087
                Mailing address: PO Box 9041,  Stn Prov Govt,  Victoria, BC  V8W 9E1

                Opposition NDP forest critic Norm Macdonald - email:

                Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver- email:

When sending letters or emails to decision makers request a "Read Receipt", and please cc.     
I am pleased to introduce my involvement and future with  Wolf Awareness Inc. ,  a charitable foundation dedicated to wolf conservation through research and outreach. 
Your support is needed!
Most sincerely, Sadie Parr

BC government uses pretty words like sustainable to justify wolf killings.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - British Columbia, April 20, 2014:  Wolves.  Few species on the planet elicit such intense emotions and efforts to "control".  Only in recent decades have we begun to understand the profound and dynamic ecological influences and economic benefits large carnivores such as wolves contribute to the planetIs government management of these iconic species keeping up? ...see attached April 20th Media Release to read more....

Sadie Parr
Wolf Awareness Inc.
250.272.HOWL (4695)

"Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf".    -Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like a Mountain.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Minnesota showing some smarts and concern for it's forests as it launches a three year study of it's Deer Herd................Study after study shows that browsing by overabundant deer herds is crushing the biodiversity of northern and eastern forests........... The threat they pose, say some forest ecologists, is greater than climate change......Between 1997 and 2006, Minnesota’s whitetail population soared from an estimated 733,000 to more than 1.1 million, prompting an outcry from foresters and ecologists that deer were wiping out the understory in the woods........... The Minn.Department of Natural Resources responded by lowering deer density goals in many areas between 2005 and 2007............... Increasing the legal take, especially for female deer, reduced the herd size...............My question is this: Why has Minnesota since taking over management of Wolves gone to such great lengths to halve their population when they are natures deer eaters,,,,,,,,,,,,,especially knowing that despite recent severe winters, the northcentral and central regions of the state have a "forest crushing" 20 to 25 per square mile??????

This Article from
The full Article, with any associated images and

 links can be viewed here.
Minnesota launches
 deer vs. trees debate
Tony Kennedy, Star Tribune

Minnesota’s deer czar, Leslie McInenly, knows that for
 a lot of hunters there can never be enough deer.“It’s
 like me and chocolate,’’ she said.

But as the state launches a three-year process to 
reset its deer population — the first in nearly a 
decade — deer hunters won’t be the only ones
 at the table. There also will be white, red and
 jack pines, orchids and other wildflowers and 
all the species that depend on them.

The likely increased numbers of Minnesota’s
 favorite game animal will come at the peril of
 the state’s beloved pine trees and the native
 plants, insects and animals that live below
 them on the forest floor. 

The state’s deer population exploded starting
 in the late 1990s, and, due largely to recent
harsh winters, has since declined somewhat.
But study after study shows that browsing by
 overabundant deer herds is crushing the
 biodiversity of northern and eastern forests.
 The threat they pose, say some forest ecologists,
is greater than climate change.

In areas around Bemidji and Park Rapids, forest
experts are projecting sizable loss of jack pine
stands — partly because deer eat the new growth.
 With jack pine, red pine and the majestic white
 pine, any meaningful regeneration is now dependent
 on planting by hand or aerial seeding on prepared
 sites. Anti-browsing protections for the tiny trees
 and the cost of replanting stands that get wiped
out by deer have made the process less successful
 and more expensive.

It’s a problem seen throughout the United States.
“We’ve already got more deer than the land can
 support,” said Gary Alt, a wildlife biologist now
based in California who reduced Pennsylvania’s
 deer population to curtail the destruction of plant
life that was harming that state’s $7 billion forest
 industry.“If anything, it’s getting worse,” said Brian
 Palik, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest
Service in Grand Rapids.
Between 1997 and 2006, Minnesota’s whitetai
l population soared from an estimated 733,000
 to more than 1.1 million, prompting an outcry
 from foresters and ecologists that deer were
wiping out the understory in the woods. The
Department of Natural Resources responded b
y lowering deer density goals in many areas
 between 2005 and 2007. Increasing the legal
 take, especially for female deer, reduced the
 herd size, as planned. 

But recent harsh winters have crashed the
 population in some areas, leading to an outcry
 from hunters who complained at recent
“listening sessions” that deer are too scarce.
The 2013 hunting season produced a harvest
of 172,000 deer, the lowest in 15 years.“As a
 general consensus, people I talk to think the
 numbers are about half of what they were,”
said Mike Staggemeyer, who hunts on private
 land south of La Crescent. “I would like to see
 a few more deer.’’

Deer populations across Minnesota vary according to
 habitat and are managed differently from area to area.
Current density levels range from a high of 25 to 30 deer
 per square mile in the extreme southeast to only 3 to 5
per square mile in the far west. In much of central and
north-­central Minnesota, where most deer are harvested,
 numbers hover around 20 to 25 per square mile.

Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer
Hunters Association, said doubling the number would not
 be too much in some areas. Most hunters believe the
 state went “quite a ways” too far in lowering the population
 the last time around, he said.“We are definitely at a low
ebb,’’ Johnson said.

The latest rejiggering has started with a look at
southeastern Minnesota, where a hunter-dominated
 citizen advisory team has called for increases in more
 than half of the region. The 21-member team, 18 of
whom are deer hunters, did not propose any decreases.
 Its recommendations have been posted by the DNR
for public reaction.

As Minnesota wades into the three-year process,
 McInenly said she expects to hear more from
foresters, ecologists and timber companies as
 the evaluation moves northward. Farmers who
suffer crop damage from deer and motorists who
 cross paths with them also will weigh in. And the
 DNR has its own costly fight against chronic
wasting disease to consider as it changes
density goals.

In the Arrowhead region, timber mill operator
Jack Rajala has a different perspective on how
 many deer are enough. After years of fighting
deer, he’s finally seeing low-enough numbers
where browsing isn’t a problem for his young
 trees. Since the 1980s deer have eaten 1 million
 young white pines on his property even though
the numbers in his part of the state are lower than
 many other areas. He learned to protect new
 seedlings with bud caps — paper scraps
stapled to the trees’ leading growth stems.
Even with lower densities, capping the seedlings
 is a necessity for about the first five years, until
 they are beyond deers’ reach. “If you bring the
herd back up, it will hurt the conifers,’’ said
 Rajala, who wrote the 1998 book “Bringing
 Back the White Pine.’’

Mark White, a forest biologist for the Nature
Conservancy, said he’s demonstrated what a
 deer-free forest can look like by fencing them out
 of a large plot of woods on the North Shore. Inside
is thick, lush plant life and healthy young trees. Outside,
 the forest floor is sparsely vegetated, with few trees.
“It’s so well studied, there’s really no debate,’’ said
White, who asserts that too many deer — not climate
change — pose the biggest threat to forests in
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and farther east.

Rajala and other forest experts believe that the
 preferences of Minnesota’s 500,000 deer
hunters — who annually pay $19.6 million to
 the state in license revenue — will continue
 to trump ecological concerns. The low end of
 acceptability for hunters is still at a level that
changes forests for the worse, they say.“We
 are at that point,’’ said Mike Locke, a longtime
 DNR forester based in Bemidji. “If you want a
 lot of deer you are not going to have a lot of
 jack pine or white pine.’’

Locke was part of a 2006 state SWAT team,
including wildlife managers, that studied why
 state forest land in a large triangular region
 including Backus, Bemidji and Park Rapids
 wasn’t meeting its goals to regenerate trees
. Deer, drought and diseased seedlings were
 the main culprits and one recommendation the
 team agreed on was to keep local deer
populations “at levels that will ensure pine
species can regenerate and grow, ’’ Locke said.
But the deer numbers didn’t change. Pine
regeneration “seems to be a minor factor’’
in setting deer population goals, he said.
 Deer densities of 10 animals per square
 mile — a level foresters can work around
 without too much spending on seedling
protection and replanting — is not
 acceptable to hunters.

“It’s pretty clear that nobody is really going
 to politically stand up and say we are going
 to decrease the number of deer that are out
there,’’ Locke said.
Gary Alt, the biologist who was appointed
by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to decrease
 deer herds, said the story is similar in nearly
every big deer hunting state. Hunters overprotect
 female deer to increase fawn production,
multiplying their chances of shooting a buck.
 As the herd increases, they get used to seeing
 a lot of deer and then revolt when game managers
 try to lower populations.

“They pay the bills, so [states] keep them happy,’’
 said Alt, who experienced death threats in
Pennsylvania and wore body armor to public
Alt said he foresees a time when deer
populations become so unbalanced that
some states will authorize commercial
culling for food, supplanting hunters as a
 herd management tool.

Johnson of the Deer Hunters Association
 said foresters sometimes exaggerate
depredation by deer, ignoring other factors
 that stifle new trees. He said most hunters
 don’t see a need for densities to be as
 high as they were during peak population in
 the mid-2000s, when there were 50 deer per
square mile in some areas. But “something in
 between’’ would be fair to hunters and protective
 of the ecosystem, he said.

Lowering deer densities wouldn’t necessarily
 solve the browsing problem either, Locke said,
 because even small groups of deer have
 “hammered’’ large pine plantings. Many
foresters believe that seedlings from commercial
nurseries are extra tasty to deer because they
 contain more nutrients than trees that grow
 from seeds cast from aircraft.

There is also a considerable cost to taxpayers
in protecting forests from hungry deer. In the
 nine years that ended in fiscal 2012, the DNR
 spent about $2.75 million on bud-capping and
spraying repellent on seedlings. National forests
 in the state also spend money annually on
 deterrents. Palik said a contractor recently
 submitted a bid to bud-cap pine seedlings
 on a 500-acre site at a cost of $185 per acre
, or $92,500 per year.

DNR wildlife and forestry officials from Locke’s
 area revisited the deer debate last year,
producing a draft report on how to manage
pine regeneration and deer populations in
 the northwest part of the state. The report
 noted that there are fewer hunters now and
 more land has been put off limits to hunting
 due to development or leasing — factors
 that diminish deer hunting as a tool to keep
herds in check.

The draft report projected that by 2025 there
could be a steep decline in the area’s jack pine
 cover based on losses of 15,000 to 16,000
acres that occurred between 1990 and 2006.

For the environment, selective browsing by deer
 also means a reduction in other trees and plants,
 including red oak, certain lillies, orchids and other
 plant species, said Lee Frelich, University of
Minnesota forest biologist. The overall effect is a
 cascading drop-off in certain insects, less habita
 for animals, fewer songbirds, less grouse and
pheasant and the disappearance of various berries
 Frelich said.

“Deer are contributing to the shifting composition
 of the forest,’’ said Frelich, who has studied the
 deer-related loss of new-growth hemlock trees
 in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper

McInenly said deer hunters in Minnesota understand
 the need to keep the herd in check. Hunters went
along with the deer reduction in 2005-2007 when
foresters and ecologists were more vocal about
browsing damage, she said. And it’s the DNR’s
job to balance competing interests, especially
 when it comes to the “upper thresholds’’ for
protecting healthy ecosystems, she said.
But the DNR can’t ignore the social reality of
deer hunting and “certainly’’ listens to hunters,
 McInenly said.

For now, indications point toward a managed
 increase in the deer population, but no one
knows what that number will be.“We are trying
to find the sweet spot, but I don’t think you ever
 land on the sweet spot,’’ McInenly said.

Tony Kennedy • 612-673-4213