DEC asking for help monitoring seedlings to measure impact of deer browsing
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 5:45 am

Those who like to spend time in the woods in the fall and are interested in keeping those woods healthy might consider monitoring tree seedling growth to find out whether deer browsing is threatening the ability of the forest to sustain itself.

Deer populations in parts of the state are high enough to harm their habitat and the forest ecosystem. High deer densities can eliminate understory plants, and the future of the forest can be at risk if deer eat tree seedlings before they can grow up to replace trees that fall. Heavy shrub browsing and ground cover also destroy habitat for birds and other wildlife.

DEC has partnered with Cornell University to provide a way for forest owners and people concerned about forest health to assess and monitor the ecological impacts of deer. It involves marking some plants and measuring their height at the same time each year.

Spring is the best time to monitor wildflowers, the announcement says, but seedlings can be monitored in the fall. The method is called AVID, which stands for Assessing Vegetation Impacts from Deer, and the AVID website provides all the information needed to start monitoring.

For people who would like some hands-on training in using AVID, Cornell Cooperative Extension offers occasional half-day workshops that will be listed on their website when they’re scheduled.