Posted By Ol' Tin Cup, 4 years ago
We often hear that some areas of the state have deer populations which are "too high". But have you ever wondered what makes a population too high? And, if populations are too high, what are the impacts?
In every habitat, there's a very important relationship playing out. On one side, there's the habitat's quality and its carrying capacity. On the other side are the animal populations in the area. When this relationship is unbalanced, it can have many negative side effects on both animal and habitat health.
In our world, if you don't have groceries in your cupboard, you go hungry. Or, if all you have is junk food, then you won't be healthy. Deer are exactly the same. Once they eat the highly desired, high quality plant species where they live, all that is left is the "junk food".
When a whitetail's diet consists mainly of the lower quality plant species, the deer's health diminishes. This results in individuals becoming more susceptible to diseases because their bodies don't have the ability and energy to fight these diseases. Also, the health of individual deer goes hand and hand with breeding success, fetus development, antler growth, etc.
A deer's body is its first priority. Antlers and offspring are put on
the back burner when their health drops below a certain level. A
majority of the high quality plant species in a deer's diet also require
a low level of browse pressure to establish and maintain the health of
the plants. Too much browse pressure is contributing to a lack of forest
regeneration in some locations in NY.
When there isn't enough food, the deer have to move or they'll starve. This can result in increased agricultural and residential plant damage when the deer begin to become stressed with lack of natural vegetation to consume, potentially even causing large economic damage.