MSAF-logo.jpg (10970 bytes)MICHIGAN SOCIETY

Upper Peninsula & Lower Peninsula Chapters

Position Statement on White-tailed Deer in Michigan


The Michigan Society of American Foresters advocates the sustainable use and management of all Michigan forest resources for the good of society. To do this, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations must be low enough to allow for the regeneration of forests and the development of desired plant communities and wildlife habitats.
issues & Background:



Many issues of habitat management, deer population management, and natural resource management are highly contentious. Many challenges lie in funding, management philosophy, public outreach, and the application and implementation of the results of scientific research. Michigan is not alone in this situation. The stakes for current and future generations are high. Charting alternative courses will require the best resources which biological, social, and economic sciences can offer. The existing process for managing the white-tailed deer resource must be modified to allow for the input of all segments of the public. Affected publics must have ownership in the process. A degree of failure and learning must be expected and accepted, but the status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable. On-going dialogue about - and cumulative action on - these issues should be a high priority in the management of Michigan’s natural resources.


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Alverson, W.S., and D.M. Waller. 1997. Deer populations and the widespread failure of hemlock regeneration in northern forests. pp. 280-297 in W. McShea and J. Rappole, eds., The Science of Overabundance: Deer ecology and population management, Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington, DC.

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Donovan, G. 2005. Chronic regeneration failure in northern hardwood stands: A liability to certified forest landowners, IN Proceedings “Forests & Whitetails-Striving for Balance,” the Spring 2005 conference of the Michigan Society of American Foresters, []

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Healy, W.M., D.S. deCalesta, and S.B. Stout. 1997. A research perspective on white-tailed deer overabundance in the northeastern United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:259-263.

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Matonis M.S., M.B. Walters, J.D.A. Millington. 2010. Gap-, stand-, and landscape-scale factors contribute to poor sugar maple regeneration after timber harvest. Forest Ecology and Management 262: 286-298.

McShea, W.J., H.B. Underwood, and J.H. Rappole. Eds. 1997. The Science of Overabundance, Deer Ecology and population management. Smithsonian Books, Washington and London, 394 pp.

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Millington J.D.A., M.B. Walters, M.S. Matonis, E.J. Laurent, K.R. Hall, J.G. Liu. 2011. Combined long-term effects of variable tree regeneration and timber management on forest songbirds and timber production. Forest Ecology and Management 262: 718-729.

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Randall, J.A., and M.B. Walters. 2011. Deer density effects on vegetation in aspen forest understories over site productivity and stand age gradients. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 408-415.

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White, Mark A. 2012. Long-term effects of deer browsing: Composition, structure, and productivity in a northeastern Minnesota old-growth forests. Forest Ecology and Management 269, p222-228.

A position adopted by the Executive Team of the Michigan Society of American Foresters on 7 November 2006 Revised and adopted on April 30, 2013. This Position Statement will expire after five years unless revised, extended, or withdrawn.

The Michigan Society of American Foresters is the scientific and educational association of professional foresters, including consultants, researchers, professors, students, and employees of public agencies and private firms. The Mission of SAF is to advance the science, technology, education and practice of professional forestry to benefit current and future generations.

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This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forester in the Upper Peninsula.  Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted. 
Last update of this page was 12 February, 2014






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