I - Deer

The negative impact of deer has been mentioned repeatedly, and is a significant problem throughout the region. Many older woodlands have become “cathedral forests”, so stripped of their shrub and ground flora that one can see considerable distances through the living columns of the aging canopy. Other forests that still retain some native diversity along roadsides, nurtured and protected by light and traffic, have interiors that are now dominated by invasive shrubs and ground covers. Rare is the woodland with any significant number of sapling oaks, hickory, or even tulip – a worrisome development as older trees die and are not replaced, the gaps created quickly filled with smothering carpets of alien weeds and “trash” trees. The diversity of native shrubs has been greatly reduced as they are replaced by aliens. A telling statistic is that 29% of the alien invasives are shrubs while shrubs make up only 6% of the native flora. As long as the deer population remains high, time and money spent planting native trees and introducing native plants, even with protection, is pointless. Efforts to drastically reduce the numbers of deer must be cooperative and widespread.