Deer Management & Forest Health

Deer are acting like a keystone species here... it's not a minor effect. It's not affecting one or a few species. It's not affecting one or a few sites. It's not a temporary effect. These are pervasive, long-lasting effects that are actually shifting Wisconsin plant communities outside the Indian reservations into another state - a state of lower diversity, of different composition, more invasives.

- Quote from Don Waller, Professor of Botany, U of Wisconsin, from a study comparing forest management on state lands with that on Indian reservations.

DeerThe increase in Lyme Disease, the mounting evidence of excessive deer browse, a recent public meeting on deer management and new hunting efforts in Hanover have led to the creation of these webpages.

  • Part One: Signs of Local Deer Overabundance (PDF)
    Photos and text describing local examples of severe deer browse, suggesting too many deer are in the neighborhood. What things should we look for, in detecting a browse problem?
  • Part Two: Deer Management and Forest Health - A Public Meeting (PDF)
    This section has links to notes from a meeting, panelist information, a summary of public comments and suggestions, a news report and CATV coverage of a well-attended session held in September 2014. More than 150 people representing more than 23 towns attended one of the two sessions, to learn about the impact of deer on the health of our forests.
  • Part Three: Deer Resistant Landscaping (PDF)
    At moderate density, deer don't eat everything. This section lists some plants and measures we can use in our yards and neighborhoods, to help deter deer.
  • Part Four: Deer, Ticks and Lyme Disease
    A link to a separate part of the Biodiversity website. Most black-legged (deer) ticks obtain the Lyme disease bacteria from deer mice, not from deer. However, the ticks do prefer deer as a place to locate a mate and grab a final blood meal, so deer do play a major role in the biology of adult deer ticks. Check the section about deer and the other factors (PDF) related to the increase in Lyme Disease.
  • Part Five: Strategies for Deer Management (PDF)
    This section covers the biology of deer, a brief history of deer in North America and the implications for deer management. There is a separate part on research and strategies (PDF) used to control deer in other states.
  • Part Six: References for Deer Management and Forest Health (PDF)
    Links to NH, VT, NY and Cornell University deer management programs. Links to magazine and news articles about the impacts of deer. Also, links to and brief notes from major research on impacts by deer on forest health and assessment of methods for the control of excessive deer populations.
  • Part Seven: Hanover Deer Harvest / Control Efforts
    By 2010, it had become clear that the No Hunting policy in the Trescott Company watershed helped to cause an increase of the deer population in Hanover. Replacement trees in the Trescott lands were not surviving; Lyme Disease, vehicle accidents and suburban deer over-browse were evident in town. In 2011 the Trescott Company opened its lands to hunters and NH Fish and Game (NHFG) started to increase days for doe hunting. Since 2012, archery hunters can hunt either sex, and these hunters now harvest more doe than bucks. NH has gradually added a few extra doe days for hunters using firearms, but this made little difference in deer-related problems, as the deer population kept growing.
    • Special Deer Management Permits
      In 2017, the town petitioned NHFG for more doe permits, and this resulted in a change of the rules. Licensed hunters can now obtain a limited number of free Special Permits distributed by the Town. In 2018, 100 permits were available; in 2019, 125 permits were distributed by lottery. Hunters with those Special Permits may only hunt in the special Deer Management Area. Here, they can take up to two does with their Special Permits. With the incentive provided by the Special Permits, hunters now harvest more doe than buck in Hanover. A map (PDF) shows the area where permits could be used in 2019. Every year the Management Area is different so be sure to check with the Town before using your Special Permit. Landowners interested in opening their land to these hunters should email Vicki Smith at in the Hanover Planning Office to see if their land qualifies. Town-wide, landowners are not posting their land so that hunters might harvest deer outside the Special Deer Management Area.
    • Hanover Hunting Efforts
      A detailed report (PDF) on the 2019 deer harvest includes charts of hunting trends, as well as details about health of deer, and information about the Wildlife Management Unit G1 that includes Hanover. In 2019, Hanover was the only town in NH with a total harvest that exceeded 200.
    • Trillium Monitoring
      A favorite herbaceous plant for deer, Trillium, is being used to help monitor deer browse in Hanover. In 2018 seven Trillium stations were installed; another three stations were added in 2019. Each station has three 1-square meter plots; one with a cage to exclude deer and the others open to deer browse. After Trillium plants emerge in May, trained volunteers count and measure Trillium plants and flowers in the three plots. They return for a simple count in each of the next three months; six variables are compared. After several years of monitoring, we expect to tell if hunting is helping to reduce the browse pressure. See a poster (PDF) about why we count Trillium.