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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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Saturday, December 31, 2016

On this fine New Years day we discuss melanism-----"Melanism is a development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism"..........."It is thought that this adaptation gives animals a competitive advantage in survival and reproduction as they become better camouflaged in their environment"..........."It perhaps also helps up the odds of success for those carnivores that hunt their prey at night"..................And just last weekend, on Christmas day in New Brunswick, Canada near Henry Lake, the 12th recorded melanistic(black) Bobcat was snared in a hunters trap.............Every melanistic Bobcat that has been discovered in North America haas either come out of New Brunswick or Florida,,,,,,,,,,,,Biologists are not able to explain this phenomena as of this time

Appearance of black bobcats in New Brunswick puzzles biologist

Black Bobcat Snared in N.B., Only 12th Ever Recorded in North America

No apparent ecological or environmental reason the cat should be more 

prevalent in Florida and N.B.

By Shane Fowler, CBC Posted: Dec 29, 2016 

A New Brunswick biologist says he can't explain why New Brunswick appears to be one of just two places in the world where pure black bobcats have been found.
Last Sunday, a melanistic bobcat was found dead in a trapper's snare near Cocagne, the third such animal ever found in New Brunswick.

Florida is the only other place the rare felines have been reported. 
"The obvious question is why Florida and New Brunswick?" Donald McAlpine, the research curator and head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum, wrote in an email.    
"I don't have a good answer for that. I can't see any ecological or environmental reason it should be more prevalent in Florida and New Brunswick over other jurisdictions." 
McAlpine says it may simply be that melanistic cats are not being observed and recorded in other areas. 
"Another possibility is the random appearance and persistence of this genetic mutation in the two localities," McAlpine said.
"My guess is that melanistic bobcats probably have appeared elsewhere from time to time but have not been reported, for whatever reason." 
Melanistic animals have a genetic trait that causes their skin pigment to be expressed completely black. It is regarded as the opposite of albinism, where pigment is not expressed at all and animals appear completely white. 
McAlpine confirmed Thursday that the bobcat snared on Christmas Day was the third such animal ever found in New Brunswick.
A paper he co-authored in 1995 with Jay Tischendorf, "A Melanistic Bobcat from Outside Florida," stated the only other case of melanism found in a Canadian bobcat was in a male juvenile trapped in November 1983.

But another animal found in Gaspereau Forks was obtained by the New Brunswick Museum in 2013. McAlpine confirmed that nothing had been published about the 2013 animal. 
"This second record is represented by a specimen (skin, skeleton, dried tissue, frozen tissue) in the [museum] collection," wrote McAlpine. 
Only 10 other melanistic bobcats have been reported, all in Florida. 
Trapper Oswald McFadden told CBC News he is considering giving the animal to the New Brunswick Museum. He has been offered cash and hunting trips for the body of the cat he found in the trap line he has maintained for the last decade. 
Regardless of McFadden's decision it seems at least part of the rare cat will make its way to the museum for research.  
"The [museum] would be very interested in the skin, ideally still attached to the carcass," wrote McAlpine, adding that a skinned carcass would still be turned over to the museum for research purposes. 

Melanism in the Felidae, with Special Reference to the Genus Lynx

 Restricted access
Marin County, florida melanistic Bobcat discovered in 1939

 First published online: 14 August 1941

Friday, December 30, 2016

Once ranging from Southern Calif across to Arkansas and Louisiana, we are today left with 80 to 100 Ocelots in South Texas...........On private ranch land known as the Yturria Conservation Easement, 4 Ocelot kittens were born in April...........Outside of this easement, there were three more mother Ocelots with kittens at the Laguna Ataxcosa National Wildlife Refuge.............Biologists have renewed optimism that if the wildlife culverts that are being discussed for the highways that run through this region are created, then the rare Ocelot might have a chance at long term persistence in the USA......

Rare Ocelot 

Kittens Caught 

on Camera

Biologists were overjoyed to find

 the healthy babies, 

including a “breathtaking” male 

cub in its den on

 a wildlife refuge.

Using GPS technology and camera traps, biologists
 were thrilled to find rare litters of ocelot kittens
 and a den site—the first found for the small wild
 cats in a South Texas refuge in nearly two decades.

Hilary Swarts, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish
 and Wildlife Service, says the kittens were spotted 
in April at two separate locations, though the news
 was released just last week.
The researchers detected four ocelot kittens on the
 owned ranch land that is protected in perpetuity as
 a home for wildlife.
“[At the easement], we detected three moms with 
litters, and one of those moms had twins, which is 
not typical and was incredibly exciting for us,”

And at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife
 south of the easement, camera traps revealed three
 more mother ocelots with healthy kittens. Seven 
known females currently live on the reserve.
“Our seventh female is the one where we actually
 found the den site and found the 400-gram—
less than a pound—little boy, who was
 breathtaking,” Swarts says.
According to the GPS collar data from the mom,
 the site was the second den used for the same 
“That is very typical,” Swarts says. “The mom 
will have the kitten in one spot and stay there
 for two or three weeks before moving them 
to another spot for two or three weeks.”
Theories as to why ocelots might move den
 sites include evading predators or avoiding 
infestation from fleas and ticks.


The news of these adorable kittens is 
welcome in South Texas, where biologists
 have identified about 50 of the wildcats by 
their coat patterns. A statewide estimate
 currently falls anywhere between 80 to 100
 total ocelots.

While the small cats roam throughout South and 
Central America, they are considered endangered
 in Texas. In the United States, ocelots used to range
 as far east as Arkansas and Louisiana, but today 
only a small subpopulation lives in the wild in the
 Lone Star State, and about 95 percent of their 
original habitat has been cleared, Swarts says. 
“That clearing means that some of those areas 
are fragmented from each other, so to get from
 one habitat to another, they have to pass
 through human nature,” Swarts says. 
“That leads to the other big threat: getting hit 
by cars.”
Genetic isolation, which leads to reduced 
genetic diversity, is also problematic for
 ocelots and brings its own set of issues, 
like reduced disease resistance.
Ultimately, though, Swarts is optimistic: 
“What was so great with seeing the burst
 of kittens this year—though from a 
statistical perspective, it is impossible
 to say whether there was a bumper crop
 or not—[is that] they’re doing their job, 
which is to produce more ocelots, and
 we have been making some good stride
s as far as reducing threats.”

Rare ocelot found in Arizona



Wildlife crossings in South 

Texas to help protect ocelots

The plan is for chain-link fencing along FM 106 and
 State Highway 100 in Willacy County to funnel 
ocelots to the underpasses, allowing them to bypass
 the highways safely.
This Nov. 18, 2016 photo, shows an underpass on FM 106, one of several being added to the highway near Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, that wildlife experts hope will reduce ocelot-vehicle collisions, the leading cause of ocelot deaths in South Texas. The underpass measures about 8 feet wide by 6 feet high. Note the two "rails" along the sides designed to allow the ocelots to walk through without getting their feet wet. (Rick Kelley/Valley Morning Star via AP)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

During this past Summer, severe drought from Maine right on down the Appalachian ridge into Georgia caused shrubs not to produce their usual quantity of seeds and berries..............This, combined with campers and hikers not taking proper precautions with the food they brought into the woods increased the number of incidents between Black Bears and people ..............."Scientists says it’s not in the DNA of black bears to go after humans"............... "They are omnivores that eat, among other things, skunk cabbage in the spring, berries in the summer, and tree mast in the fall"............ "When they eat meat, it might be a small deer or even a bear cub"............For how to act should you encounter a momma Black Bear with cubs or a lone male while hiking, never run, talk to the bear and act authoritative, back slowly away.............If the bear actually attacks(most often a bluff charge), fight back!!!,d.amc


Summer bad news for bears

DEC fielded an unusually high number of complaints about run-ins with bruins this year.
Bear encounters in New York's Adirnondacks backcountry and in residential areas were much more common than usual this summer.  Jim Stickles, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said there were about 150 bear complaints in DEC’s Region 5—which comprises about two-thirds of the Park—as of early September. As a result, the department euthanized a half-dozen bears in the region. There were only ninety complaints about bears in each of the prior two years.
In the backcountry, bears have stolen food from campsites and approached hikers on the trail; in residential areas, they have knocked over bird feeders and raided garbage cans. DEC has received complaints in Saranac Lake, Raquette Lake, Tupper Lake, Chestertown, Keene, Keene Valley, Speculator, Long Lake, Inlet, and Old Forge.

Scientists cite this summer’s hot, dry weather as a big reason for the high number of bear incidents. As a result of the weather, the bear’s natural food sources, such as berries, were in short supply. Also, the lack of rain drew more visitors to the Adirondacks, meaning more people were in bear habitat.
“We started off the year really dry. We didn’t have the snowmelt we normally do, and the berry crops, they just weren’t there this summer, at least not that I noticed, so there just wasn’t available food,” Stickles said.

Bears seldom attack people
Despite all of the black-bear incidents this year, including many close encounters in the woods and in residential areas, there were no reported injuries to people.
Historically, few people have been injured by bears in the Adirondacks, although many have come extremely close to them.
In 2015, a hiker got tangled up with a black bear in the southern Adirondacks and suffered life-threatening wounds but survived after a trip to the hospital. The hiker had been trying to save his dog from the bear.
A few years before that, a woman used a pocketknife to fend off a bear that she says stalked and ultimately approached her on the Northville-Placid Trail. She was not hurt.
The only known fatal bear attack in New York State occurred in 2002 when a young male bear killed an infant in the Catskills.
However, black bears have killed people in Algonquin Park in Canada, Glacier National Park in Montana, and other places. Fatal attacks are rare, but they do occur.
Some scientists says it’s not in the DNA of black bears to go after humans. They are omnivores that eat, among other things, skunk cabbage in the spring, berries in the summer, and tree mast in the fall. When they eat meat, it might be a small deer or even a bear cub.
When bears in the Adirondacks do injure humans, it’s usually because they are protecting their cubs or have come in contact with people while seeking food at a campsite or home.
“They are afraid of humans, and they aren’t really a predator,” said Michale Glennon, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist. “They are an opportunistic omnivore, so if they are attacking a human, it’s for a cause that I would consider an anomaly: either fear because someone has gotten between them and their cubs or made them feel scared for whatever reason.”
“Generally, they are not accustomed to being around humans and don’t want to be around humans,” Glennon continued. “They are opportunistic and will find food sources that humans leave, and we are in close contact with them under those types of circumstances; the chances for something bad happening are, of course, higher.”

Staying Safe around Bears

Ecologist George Wuerthner shared this article depicting President Obama's use of the ANTIQUITY ACT to set aside national monuments.......With the Bears Ears lands in southern Utah and the Gold Butte region in Nevada, Obama has created 29 National Monuments during his 8 years as President.......As with his predecessor, President George W., the huge majority of "land" set aside by Obama is acreage in the oceans abutting our 50 states

Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, Cristina Eisenberg is back with us today with the 2nd of her editorials on our environment and her perceptions of how the Trump Administration will engage with the many issues confronting our natural world...........On November 10 at her Boston Earthwatch Office, Cristina hosted a post election lunch attended by many of the millenials working in her office..............Their outlook on how their generation can correct the mistakes of their parents and grandparents and move toward a more sustainable eco-friendly future is an interesting read............Click on the link below to do so

Millennial Insights on Trump Era
 Science and Conservation
 Cristina Eisenberg
Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, Ecologist, and Book author 12/28/2016 


Millennials, Earthwatch Participants, and the Author on the Earthwatch 
Project Restoring Fire and Wolves to the Canadian Rockies

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Just under 11,000 Whitetail Deer were killed by New Hampshire hunters this season, spot on with the past 20 year average of 10,912...........This prompted Dan Bergeron, New Hampshire's Fish & Game deer biologist to make this recent statement---- "It has been another very good season overall in New Hampshire",,,,,,,,,“This season’s estimated total harvest ranks among the top 25 total harvests going back 95 years to 1922".............. "In fact, 21 of the top 25 years have taken place from 1995-2016 (during the last 22 years), and 9 of the top 10 years for adult buck harvests have taken place since 2000"................Let it be noted for the record that this annual human kill total only removes 10-11% of the estimated 100,000 Deer nibbling New Hampshire's forests........While this 100,000 Deer population equates to a supposed 12 deer per square mile(the top level of deer density considered to be "forest regenerating in New Hampshire at the time of European colonization), the majority of deer are in the southern half of the state where 30-100 deer per square mile exist today............As we have spoken about many times on this blog, forest regeneration is severely retarded when deer densities climb to 15 to 25 deer per square mile...........So even with New Hampshire's current carnivore suite of 5000 Eastern Coyotes, 5000 Black Bears and some 1000 to 1400 Bobcats and Fishers dining on deer fawns in the early Spring and weakened Winter stressed deer, the management of deer in the Granite State revolves around human hunter dictates and not the health of the New Hampshire woodlands..............And it is ironic that the New Hampshire Fish & Wildlife folks all but own up to this fact in their most recent 2015 WHITE TAIL ASSESSMENT paper saying that --"Since the extirpation of the Wolf(and Puma), northern deer populations are primarily influenced by hunting and winter severity"

NEW HAMPSHIRE Deer Season Harvest: Comparison by County

The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2016 hunting season was 10,702, down slightly (2%) from the 2015 final kill of 10,895. Based on this estimate, the 2016 total represents the 7th highest kill in the last 9 years and is very similar to the 20-year average of 10,912.  Deer hunting seasons are now closed in the state.

prior to AD1600, Indians hunted deer with bow

"With nearly 11,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been another very good season overall in New Hampshire,” said Dan Bergeron, the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s deer biologist. He noted that the physical condition of deer was good again this year, and that quite a few very large bucks were harvested throughout the state, including a 266-lb. buck taken in Success which made the top 10 list of biggest bucks ever harvested in the state (for all hunting methods).

 Bergeron also noted that “this season’s estimated total harvest ranks among the top 25 total harvests going back 95 years to 1922.  In fact, 21 of the top 25 years have taken place from 1995-2016 (during the last 22 years), and 9 of the top 10 years for adult buck harvests have taken place since 2000 (adult buck harvest numbers for 2016 have not yet been verified).

A summary of the actual kill by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) compared to previous years will be provided in the 2016 NH Wildlife Harvest Summary, available in March 2017.


 Historical Perspectives Deer population assessments from pre-colonial and colonial times are the epitome of qualitative information. As reported by Silver (1957), the best possible interpretation of early - 57 - records results in “absent”, “scarce”, “common” and “plentiful” as the most accurate descriptors available. It is necessary to use caution even in interpreting these terms however since “plentiful” likely meant a deer population averaging between 10 to 15 per square mile, not the 100+ per square mile seen in some populations (not New Hampshire).

Additionally, those estimates of 10- 15 deer per square mile applied to southern New Hampshire, not the mountains and further north where habitat, winter weather, and predation constraints were more intense.

Up until the mid 1800's Eastern Wolves and Deer in age-old

 Deer appear to have been considered plentiful in southern New Hampshire, at least up through 1700 when increasing settlement with its increased land clearing and deer harvest pressure resulted in population declines.

 By 1850, land clearing was about at its maximum and for much of the preceding 150 years deer hunting had been a year-round pastime if not occupation. By the late 1800’s deer were considered scarce.

At this time, improved management, law enforcement and farm abandonment all contributed to produce slow deer population increases until by 1950, they were once again considered plentiful.

Settlement in the north led to deer population increases due to the influence of several factors. “Perhaps the greatest influence in this direction was destruction of the wolves which the settlers prosecuted with great diligence.” Additionally, clearing of land for agriculture and timber harvest led to improvements in browse availability although these factors were thought to have had minimal impact.

 This increase in deer numbers occurred during the early 1800’s and appears to have peaked about 1830. The reappearance of the wolf and the notion that eliminating the deer would solve the wolf “problem” combined with lumber camp meat hunting and other forms of market hunting decreased deer numbers to the point of scarcity by the late 1800’s.

 As in the south, curtailment of over-harvest through management and enforcement resulted in population increases through the early 1900’s. Since the extirpation of the wolf, northern deer populations are primarily influenced by hunting and winter severity.

 Recent estimates from New Hampshire (which are derived from similar data using similar modeling methodology) are 12.3 deer per square mile of habitat (100,118 deer in 8,140 square miles of deer habitat). Current density estimates in Maine and New Hampshire are based on harvest data including the sex and age composition of the kill in addition to estimates of productivity and non-hunting mortality. Because of the reliance on harvest data however, populations can be under-estimated in areas with limited hunter access or in areas of very low hunter pressure. Moving south and west from New Hampshire, states with less severe winters, higher overall soil productivity, and in some cases limited ability to control populations, can see deer populations averaging 30-40 per square mile and locally in excess of 100 per square mile.

 In past planning efforts in Maine, maximum desired pre-hunt deer densities did not exceed 24 deer per square mile. This is also probably about the upper limit of long-term biological and cultural carrying capacity for deer in New Hampshire’s “best” deer habitat as well. Based on New Hampshire data, this density (24 deer per square mile) would equate to an adult buck kill of approximately 1.8 per square mile. Currently WMU M is the only unit at this level with an adult buck kill of 1.7 per square mile. However, other southeastern units are approaching this level

New Hampshire's Coyote
You may wake up to the sound of coyotes howling in the weeks to come, because February is the peak of the coyote-mating season. Come April, 4 to 8 pups will be born in a den concealed in a brushy slope or under a log pile. The male coyote hunts for the female, bringing her food, which she regurgitates to feed her young. About 70 percent of the pups will die before their first birthday. The eastern coyote is a relative newcomer to New Hampshire.

The first coyote was seen in Holderness in 1944. During the 1970s and 80s, coyotes spread throughout the state. Today, they are entrenched statewide in every available habitat from rural to urban. Studies by Dr. Robert Wayne of the University of California on tissue samples of New England coyotes found a great deal of wolf blood related to the gray wolf of Quebec. This is why our coyotes, weighing 48-60 pounds, are nearly twice the size of the western species. Coyotes come in an array of colors, from creamy to rust-colored to tawny gray. Their erect, pointed ears and bushy, drooping tails distinguish them from dogs

. Coyotes are opportunists and eat all sorts of things, depending on the time of year. In the summer, they eat fruits and berries, insects and small mammals like rabbits, squirrels and mice. They'll also eat dead animals and prey on deer slowed by deep snow. New Hampshire trappers have harvested an average of 379 coyotes each year over the past decade. The coyote is the only furbearer species that has a year-round open season for hunting and trapping in the state, but this hasn't reduced New Hampshire's coyote population. No wonder this crafty canid is called "wily coyote!" --Eric Orff, Wildife Biologist; and Dr. Judy Silverberg, Wildlife Educatortent

The black bear is the only bear species in New HampshirePopulation estimates range between 4,800 to 5,000 bears statewide. Regional beardensities across the state range between 0.1-1.0bears/square mile and average 0.5 bears/square mile


Bobcats are now functioning as apex predators, and as a result, their success may be an important indicator of overall ecosystem health,” Marian Litvaitis, professor of natural resources and the environment, said in a news release. “Recent population increases suggest that bobcats are adapting to a changing environment. Identifying the pathways of this success may provide insight into understanding how ecosystems can remain relatively intact as human population continues to expand.”

Litvaitis and doctoral student Rory Carroll are leading the study.

New Hampshire’s bobcat population has rebounded since it was protected from hunting in 1989. UNH researchers estimate there are as many as 1,400 bobcats in the state. - 

Historic and Current Statewide Deer Population The white-tailed deer population density in North America before European colonization was approximately 10 per square mile (McCabe and McCabe 1984)

HISTORICAL INFORMATION While population densities of white-tailed deer prior to European settlement are uncertain, it is generally accepted that they were much lower than current populations. Three distinct historical stages with regards to white-tailed deer populations can be delineated. The first stage, pre-European settlement prior to 1700, can be characterized by low deer densities. 

Deer populations were regulated by cyclical harsh winters (every 10-20 years) which resulted in elevated mortality. Predators inhibited deer populations from increasing significantly following severe winters. These predators included carnivores like wolves and mountain lions and the several million indigenous people that depended on deer for sustenance (Rooney 2001). These predators were only able to regulate white-tailed deer numbers at the low densities that occurred during this era (Eberhardt and Peterson, 1999). 

Finally, population growth was hampered by the depleted food resources made available by the composition and structure of the dense mature forests (Leopold, 1943; McCaffery 1976). 

Too Many Whitetails?

Around northern New England and upstate New York, many landowners, foresters, and wildlife enthusiasts have similarly conflicting feelings about deer. The million-dollar question is: how many deer are too many? Is it when the population density reaches a certain number, like 16 or 20 deer per square mile? Is it when hunters complain that the deer are too skinny and that there are no trophy bucks? Is it when the deer population exceeds the habitat’s carrying capacity? Or when environmental impacts, like loss of wildflowers, become noticeable?
It’s none of these things, says Thomas Rawinski, a botanist with the U.S. Forest Service in Durham, New Hampshire, and an expert on deer overabundance. While all are factors, the criterion that tops all others is the cultural carrying capacity: the number of deer that people are happy having around.
“Every person has a different life experience with deer,” says Rawinski. “They may be orchardists or farmers, or they may have had a vehicle collision or Lyme disease.” All of these influences must be included in the process of deciding how many deer there should be. “Wildlife is owned by everybody, so everybody needs to make the decision.”
Still, a recent public comment period revealed that the region’s foresters would like to see the deer population reduced to a quarter of what it is today. At the same time, hunters in the area are complaining that deer numbers are down; they’re advocating for more deer

Foresters often have a front-row view of the damage “too many” deer can cause to the landscape. Wildflowers, such as trillium and showy lady’s slippers, can be especially hard hit. “Each adult white-tailed deer eats about 2,000 pounds a year,” says Charlie Fiscella, New York State chapter president of the Quality Deer Management Association “That’s one ton. Go out with clippers and see how long it takes you to clip one ton. It’s hard to do that, especially when the habitat is marginal.”
The Nature Conservancy is just finishing up a study finding that deer are one of the top threats to a healthy forest in New York State, and that oak and maple seedlings are a deer’s favored food source. Since woodlot owners and foresters are also fond of oaks and maples, the deer’s impact is deeply felt. As these commercially valuable hardwood species start disappearing, forest composition can be skewed to favor birch, beech, and hophornbeam.
When deer pressure is overwhelming, you get no seedling regeneration at all. This allows invasive species to fill the void and dominate the ecosystem. As the invasives grow, the deer continue to eat native plants and avoid the invasives, thus giving the invasives a perpetual advantage.
Biologists do caution, however, that deer sometimes get too much blame for bad forest regeneration. In a forest with even-aged trees and an overstory that lets in no light, it may be the tree canopy that’s suppressing the seedling growth. One study found only subtle differences in a deer-free, full-canopy forest plot.
Jeff Ward, chief scientist of the forestry and horticulture section of The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, based in Windsor, Connecticut, has first-hand experience with deer-caused imbalances. “In one study area where there was a ‘high’ deer herd, there was a 100-acre patch that was almost pure Japanese barberry,” says Ward.
Cases when deer do eat invasive plants can be just as much a problem as when they don’t since eating seeds can help the invasives spread. “Several years ago, we gathered over 5,000 deer poops in a greenhouse to see what would grow from them,” said Scott Williams, a deer biologist at the Experiment Station. Thirty-two species of plant that germinated were not native to the state of Connecticut, including Carolina horsenettle, little hogweed, and lambsquarters. “Deer are able to transport hundreds of exotic plant seeds each day to new locations,” said Williams. “That’s one aspect of superabundant deer that people don’t consider.”
As forest composition changes, animals suffer, especially songbirds. The National Audubon Society reports that eastern wood pewees, indigo buntings, least flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, and cerulean warblers are negatively affected when deer populations exceed 20 deer per square mile. At 40 deer per square mile, an area starts to lose eastern phoebes and robins. Ground nesters, including ovenbirds, grouse, woodcock, whippoorwills, and wild turkeys, are vastly reduced.
Clearly, deer influence the environment, but they can also negatively affect our own health and safety. Deer play a role in the spread of Lyme disease, as well as the emerging diseases babesiosis (which has malaria-like symptoms) and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (which has symptoms similar to the flu). They also cause more-direct harm in accidents with vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 150 people are killed in these accidents nationwide each year, while thousands more are injured. Property damage from such collisions totals $1 billion.

These experimental Pennsylvania patch cuts were done inside an enclosed area with a controlled deer population. Both cuts are 11 years old. Above, the controlled deer population was 10 deer per square mile. Below, 64 per square mile. Note poor regeneration.Photos by Susan Stout/USFS.

Many experts point to 15 to 20 deer per square mile as the level at which the negative environmental impacts of deer can be seen