Gino D’Angelo, assistant professor in the Warnell School of Forestry, discussed recent research into declining deer populations. The new research, published by UGA researchers, shows a significant decline in total deer population in the Georgia mountains.
In just four decades, the deer population has dropped by almost two-thirds, causing fewer people to go deer hunting and of those that go, only 25% come back with a deer.
D’Angelo explained that not all forests are good deer habitat, and therefore habitat degradation has a large impact on deer population growth.
“These forests are now late-stage; they’re different than what we would have seen pre-settlement. There are accounts of agriculture by Native Americans, and low-growing vegetation with sparser, larger trees was maintained by fire, which we know happened more frequently because people have studied that though tree rings,” he said.
D’Angelo hasn’t lost hope.
“But not all is lost. Especially with deer. If we had habitat and regulated things properly, they’d bounce right back. Active management has some positives, and we’ve got an engaged public in the form of hunters at least, but probably a lot of other members of the public that want to be engaged in management in the mountains,” he said.
Active habitat management wouldn’t just help deer, but also other forest species and people who enjoy the outdoors.
“There’s a missed opportunity there, because if we had a variety of habitats, we could enjoy a greater variety of songbirds to see, or we’d see different habitats to hike through,” D’Angelo said.