The purpose of a deer exclosure is to demonstrate the health of an ecosystem. Because deer are prevented from browsing within the fencing, the prevalence of plants, seedlings, saplings and trees within as compared to outside the fencing is a good measure of the effect deer have on forest vegetation.
Mentor’s Park and Recreation Department is fortunate to have a candidate for his Eagle Scout Badge who will give nature a little jump-start by planting within the exclosure a few colonies of plants native to the park but which have been browsed to the point of apparent extinction.
The Scout will also plant a couple of samples of the plants on the area outside the fencing.
I’ve said “apparent extinction” because we can expect to see a number of the plants sprout on their own within the exclosure. Though browsing and invasive plant species can prevent native plants from growing, the seed bank under the soil has a strong will to survive—and will, once the browsing animals and invasive plants are removed.
Below is a photograph of one of the deer exclosures at Mentor Marsh that had been up about 10 years when I took the photo.
None of the plants or saplings growing inside had been there when the exclosure was erected by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
None of those plants or saplings was planted by man.
Nature heals itself, if given half a chance. And that’s the gift being given at Veterans Park.
It sounds like exactly what it is: workers will count the number of piles of deer pellets within a radius of x number of feet of the pegs, knowing that deer deposit on average 25 pellet groups per day.
Counts are taken within a deer’s home range, which is one square mile, and are taken only in the spring after snow melt and after the previous autumn’s leaf fall is complete.
After computing the samples found in one square mile, the result is a fairly accurate estimate of the number of deer per square mile.
Photos © Carole Clement