Management of Suburban White-tailed Deer in Fort Drum:
The Link Between Forest Regeneration and Critical Bat Habitat.
Presented by Martin Feehan. Co-authors Paul Curtis, Cornell University & Raymond Rainbolt, Fort Drum Natural Resources Program
Fort Drum is a US Army installation in upstate New York, just south of the Canadian border. It is home to several protected tree-roosting bat species including the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Several forested stands within the suburban cantonment area were designated for bat conservation following the outbreak of white-nose syndrome in local bat populations. The primary characteristics of these areas included the availability of forest edge with canopy trees, and minimizing the distance to water for foraging. In 2015, we began studying the white-tailed deer herd within the cantonment area. Our fawn survival research, and estimation of population abundance, clearly indicated high deer densities with the potential for rapid growth, particularly in the bat conservation areas. The impact of overabundant deer on forest regeneration in these areas was confirmed by Fort Drum staff using deer exclosures. Combined, these results required Fort Drum to shift toward intensive deer management to fulfill their legal obligation to preserve endangered bat habitat in perpetuity. Since 2018, the primary focus of our research has been on improving tactics for reducing deer abundance within the cantonment area. Efforts have included modifications to the long-term deer hunting program, culling by USDA-Wildlife Services staff, using GPS-collared deer to improve culling efficiency, invasive vegetation removal, and forest preservation with exclosures. This webinar is offered in partnership with the American Widlife Conservation Foundation (www.awcf1911.org)
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