Improving Management Strategies to Reduce Damage by Forest and Aquatic Mammals
Forests are integral components of the global climate, yet the material products that trees provide are essential to sustain human quality of life (e.g., paper, fuel, lumber, poles, fruit, etc.). While production forestry occurs throughout North America, Oregon and Washington are the United States largest leading producers of forest products. In western Oregon and Washington, the dominant commercial tree species is Douglas-fir, which is planted at a density of 400-450 trees per acre and harvested on a 40-45 year rotation.
For most tree species in the Pacific Northwest, the first five years after planting is the most vulnerable period in which trees are exposed to damage by most wildlife (e.g., deer, elk, voles, gophers, rabbits/hares, mountain beavers). However, wildlife damage also occurs after stand development, such as when trees are peeled by black bears and porcupines.
Damage can result in the following:
Managing resources to resolve these problems is becoming increasingly difficult. The land base to produce timber is shrinking. This declining base restricts options, while increasing the necessity to protect remaining resources. Historical approaches to reducing forest damage problems are under increasing scrutiny as the public demands more humane means to resolve wildlife conflicts. Additionally, conflicting management objectives frequently impede attempts to resolve problems. One manager may be attempting to reduce damage on a timber stand, while concurrently an adjacent landowner is working to increase wildlife populations. The combined result is the critical need for increased and enhanced research and outreach programs. New nonlethal approaches need to be identified and existing approaches improved. Additional research is necessary to identify and quantify the true economic impacts of wildlife on intensively managed tree plantations. Improved cost-benefit analyses will provide forest managers with knowledge to refine forest management strategies.