2017-07-15 / Outdoors

Deer study continues in Potter County

Potter County is part of a long-term research project with far-reaching implications for forest management and deer hunting. It’s sparked by deepening concerns about poor forest regeneration and plant diversity.

Over-browsing by deer has been cited as the chief villain, but Penn State researchers are finding that the problem runs deeper. They’re partnering with the Game Commission and Forestry Bureau to further study regeneration on four sections in the Susquehannock, Bald Eagle, and Rothrock state forests.

Dr. Duane Diefenbach, inset, wildlife ecology professor, said the research will allow forest and game managers to assess the impacts of deer density, hunting patterns, competing vegetation, silvicultural treatments, seed sources and other factors.

“For decades, Pennsylvania has operated primarily on the idea that managing deer abundance will influence forest regeneration,” added Marc McDill, a forest management professor who is leading the study with Diefenbach. “But deer browsing has declined in some management units, and regeneration is not improving as quickly as expected.”

Some deer in the study areas have been marked with radio collars and ear tags. Hunters who shoot any of these marked deer are asked to call the toll-free number on the collar or tag. They are paid $100 for reporting an ear-tagged deer kill; rewards are not issued for radio-collared deer.

Deer hunters in the study areas are being surveyed after the hunting seasons to determine success rates and hunting patterns.

The Game Commission uses a measure of deer browsing impacts developed by the U.S. Forest Service. Penn State’s study is assessing its accuracy and applicability in the big-woods sections of Pennsylvania to pinpoint ways to better manage forests and deer populations.

Return to top