The Nature Conservancy will be coordinating a deer hunt at Burnham Brook Preserve in East Haddam during the upcoming firearms deer hunting season. The goal of the hunt is to reduce the negative impacts of forest overbrowse in these important habitats.
Hunting will begin on November 18th and last through December 31st. A hunt will also take place at the Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme.
“Managing the deer population is essential to maintaining the health of these preserves,” said Adam Whelchel, Conservation Programs Director for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “High numbers of deer curb the growth of native trees, shrubs and flowers and encourage the spread of invasive plants. Without active management, the forest quality at these preserves will continue to suffer.”
Safety for the hunters and neighbors of the preserves is a top priority for the Conservancy. Signs have been posted informing visitors that the preserves are closed during the hunting season, and neighbors have been notified that hunting will take place. In most cases, the hunters involved have been hunting together for many years and have hunted on the land before.
“Safety during the deer hunts is essential,” said Dave Gumbart, The Nature Conservancy’s assistant director of land management in Connecticut. “We use a standard protocol where hunting takes place.”
At Burnham Brook, the understory of the forest is almost nonexistent due to overbrowse. Few seedlings have the chance to grow past their initial phases. This not only affects the health of the forest but also the animals that depend on it. Birds that nest and feed on or near the ground have lost the groundcover necessary for protection from predators as well as sources of food.
Managed hunting is an effective tool that can reduce deer populations and curb the damage they cause, allowing native natural communities, plants and trees recover their full vigor and diversity. After several years of hunting, encouraging signs are appearing.
“We’ve been actively managing deer populations in some of our preserves for several years now, and we’re seeing results,” continued Whelchel. “Rare plants such as pink lady-slipper are returning to places where we haven’t seen them in years. Through careful stewardship, our forests can survive, even thrive.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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