Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

October 19, 2005


Attendees: Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Bob Dewing, Cliff Miles, Jerry Uhrig






Jerry said that the minutes for the last month's meeting should be up on the website soon.




Jerry proposed that we submit a budget request with funds to pay a competent wildlife biologist to evaluate our deer management program.





            September Culling Report


We are aware of at least two deer being culled so far, one buck and one doe.  There is supposed to be a monthly report, given presumably by NJ State Fish and Wildlife. But we haven't seen a copy yet.


            Deer Management Program


There will be hunting in the Tourne this winter.  Jerry received notice of this in the mail.  Shotgun hunting will take place on January 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7, 2006.  The affected sections of the Tourne will be closed to the public on those Tuesdays.  It is a controlled culling.  We questioned whether it would be from tree stands or whether the hunters would be on the ground.  Any questions call 973-829-8417.


            Deer Management Forum Report


Jerry and Lynn attended this workshop. Two presenters that stood out were Gary Alt and Bryon Shissler, both wildlife biologists with extensive experience in deer management. A full report on the workshop is attached to the end of these minutes.


            Spay-Vac failure


At the Deer Management forum workshop, Bryon Shissler informed us that the problem in Princeton was a bad batch of Spay-Vac.








Morris County Park Commission Seminar


Rob Jennings gave one of his excellent, well-attended talks on the problems of invasive exotic plant species and why native plants are important. There is a native plant garden at the Pyramid Mountain Visitors' Center.


            End of "Cut and Squirt" Season


The Cut and Squirt season of invasive removal is almost at the end.  This treatment works from late summer through early fall.  After that you can pull them out by the roots. But herbicide on the stumps is no longer effective.


            Invasives Strategizing


Bob suggested that a good project for the Environmental Club at the High School would be to start a program to control invasive plant species on school property. Some of the invasives to be targeted would be multiflora rose, Japanese stiltgrass, ailanthus, and, of course, garlic mustard. Martha will contact Patty McElduff, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the high school, and suggest this idea to her. 


            Devil's walking stick


Cliff brought 2 samples of leaves, one is a Devil’s Walking Stick sample. The other is unknown but similar; however, it has no thorns.


            Weed Wrenches


Jerry reported that there are now 4 weed wrenches available for use removing invasives in our woodlands, one of each size.


            Garlic Mustard


Garlic Mustard is out of control in many areas in town, including Halsey Fredrick Park. December is a good month to begin treating the large patches with herbicide.




Pine Shoot Beetle


Cliff handed out a USDA Alert on this problem. This beetle is a native of Europe, which was discovered in 1992 in Cleveland, Ohio and has since spread throughout the northeast. It attacks new shoots of pine trees and also breeds under bark at the base of stressed pine trees. Many northeastern states have widespread populations of these beetles. At this point there have been limited numbers of them found in surveillance traps in New Jersey. For more information, visit the website http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/pineshoot.html.



Other Topics or Discussion


            Tourne Rockaway River Access


The county park commission is studying the possibility of allowing some of the area at the Tourne Park Rockaway River Access to revert to meadowlands. The plan is to alter the mowing schedule and observe the changes in species and habitat. The Park Biologist, Rob Jennings, is looking for volunteers to gather data in the study. Jerry has volunteered. It is expected that we will have an interest in some of the data as well as the techniques for gathering and organizing the data.


            New Trees at Playfields


Jerry mentioned that there are trees being planted down between the two new playfields in Halsey Frederick Park using funds left over from a Trails Committee grant. The Shade Tree Commission did the planning. It is encouraging to see that they did not use any invasive species.


            Clean-up Demonstration


Bob suggested that it might be useful to our long-term planning to have a demonstration of the tree cleanup procedure he described at the Woodlands meeting in March (see March 2005 minutes). He will take the initiative on this.






October 1, 2005


Seminar:  Deer In Your Backyard - How To Deal With the Challenges of

 Overabundant Deer In Your Community


The Ecosystem Management Project and 65 organizations, including Pennsylvania Audubon, the Nature Conservancy and Pinchot Institute for Conservation, sponsored a series of seminars around the state of Pennsylvania. We believe their findings for the state of Pennsylvania apply as well to New Jersey.


The speakers were very well qualified both by education and long experience in wildlife management. Some of the information they presented at the seminar was based on the Report of the Deer Management Forum. This is a 340 page document, Managing White-tailed Deer in Forest Habitat From an Ecosystem Perspective: Pennsylvania Case Study, by Robert E. Latham et al.,  (may be downloaded on the Audubon website pa.audubon.org). This is a thorough and substantial scientific report authored by wildlife, plant and conservation biologists and policy experts on deer management. Ten experienced scientists and managers reviewed the report.  The report includes extensive information on forest conditions, threats, deer impacts, forest recovery research, and deer exclosures, as well as details of how deer might be managed from an ecosystem perspective.


Look at the impacts.

Dr. Gary Alt, former Supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission Deer Management Section, explained that the deer herd must be balanced with the habitat. The leading cause of a reduced deer herd is loss of habitat. The greatest mistake in wildlife management is trying to raise more deer than the land can sustain. Vocal members of the hunting community like to see a lot of deer. Instead we should look at the habitat to make decisions about the deer herd.


We need broad-based funding of wildlife management

The present system for wildlife management by the Game Commission is broken. Over-abundant deer are ruining forests and farms.  The whole ecosystem is crashing.  Decisions are now made in the interests of the 8 percent of the population that are hunters because hunters foot the whole bill.  To fix the problem we need broad-based stable funding from all the people.


Deer management influences the quality of our life.


Wildlife management decisions should be made by agricultural, environmental, and community interests, not just hunters.

The structure needs to be changed at the state level.  Stakeholders are not represented. Only hunters sit on the Game Commission in Pennsylvania.


Deer have harmed many people. The agricultural industry is badly hurt by the deer browse of their crops. Nurseries are impacted when gardeners give up gardening and when employees contract lyme disease.  People are advised that going into the woods is a high risk for lyme disease.  Deer are the primary host of the blacklegged tick and there is a correlation between the number of cases of lyme disease and the number of deer. Last year at least 12 people in Pennsylvania were killed in highway deer accidents.  People are giving up gardening. Dr. Alt summarized the situation: “I do not believe that deer management should strive to maintain irresponsibly high deer populations to facilitate hunters’ enjoyment at the cost of habitat quality, other wildlife species, or human health and safety.”


The only method that works is human directed culling of the herd explained Bryon Shissler, wildlife biologist and President of Natural Resource Consultants. Sterilization is strictly a research program.  It is not allowed without a research partner.  The failure of the expensive and difficult sterilization program in Princeton was caused in part by a bad batch of Spay-Vac.



Bow hunting is not regarded as an effective control.

There are no examples anywhere in the country where bowhunters have reduced the herd to the level sustainable by the habitat.


Mr. Shissler said that if recreational hunters are used to cull the herd, certain precautions are advisable.  The hunters should be selected based on skill, attitude and commitment to your goals.  Each should be interviewed.  They should have continual access to the area.  The community should seek to develop a core group of hunters that return year after year. The program should be monitored.


Changes are needed at the state level.

Wildlife management now rests on a species-specific approach.  We need to focus on managing deer from an ecosystem perspective. There is scientific consensus that maximum sustained yield (MSY) deer management has allowed deer to have significant negative impacts on natural resources.


Decisions must be made based on science and focused on the quality of the habitat.


States with a successful controlled hunting program view this as a deer control program, not as a recreational activity. Bryon Shissler recommended some changes in hunting regulations.  Antlerless tags should be given at no cost directly to the community or landowner.  Exchange of tags between hunters should be permitted.  Baiting should be allowed. New Jersey is ahead of Pennsylvania on this. Mr. Shissler also recommended a decentralized program where permits are given directly to landowners.  In other words, we need many changes.


“It’s the habitat, stupid.”

Tim Schaeffer, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Audubon, said that most people don’t recognize what a healthy woods looks like. He described the effect of habitat destruction on songbirds and said that Pennsylvania ranked number one for cases of lyme disease. Deer are the main carrier. Farmers who experience crop failures due to deer browse have pressure to sell land.


The system will not change until we get a groundswell from the grass roots. We need a political solution.


Main points to write to the governor and legislators:

1.   Provide diverse, stable funding for wildlife management.

2.   All wildlife and stakeholders need to be represented

3.   Use science to make decisions based on indicators in the field.

4.   Tell them your own personal story.



We need a fresh approach.

Other speakers discussed the suffering caused by deer to the nursery industry and the farmers. Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff spoke about the plight of farmers.  He also advised that there were two confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease in West Virginia that week.   Another speaker said not to blame the Game Commission. They were created in a different era for different needs, at a time when there was a shortage of game. They are applying old tools to a new problem. They are not equipped to solve the problem.


We took a field trip to a deer exclosure

Promised Land deer exclosure revealed much recovery of vegetation where trees allowed sunlight to penetrate the forest floor.  Recovery was less in shady areas.  Outside the exclosure there was a dense mat of ferns and mature trees with virtually no other understory. The report discusses research at many other exclosures throughout the country. Recovery after fencing depends on the length of time of severe browsing, amount of sunlight, the plant species located there, whether herbicides are applied, and other factors.


We hope our notes from the seminar will be helpful to you in understanding the seriousness and impacts of the deer explosion and what we might do about it.  Please call us if you wish to discuss this problem.


Lynn and Jerry Uhrig

One Sunset Road

Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046

973-335-0878  LynnG8@aol.com  juhrig@att.net