Utility Rights-of-Way Wildlife Research at Penn State
Plant and animal community response to long-term vegetation management on rights-of-way

Deer Population Research

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana) habitat and its use were evaluated on the SGL33 right-of-way before and after vegetation management treatments and compared to the adjoining forest. Deer presence increased post-treatment on the right-of-way between 1982 (treatment year) to 1984 (post-treatment). The right-of-way continued to provide desirable habitat for deer following herbicide treatment.

Key Findings

  1. Integrated vegetation management treatments within the right of way caused a shift in vegetation, but suitability of the habitat for deer remained high. 1 4 19
  2. Deer use of woody plants was greater in the adjoining forest compared to the right-of-way where more herbaceous vegetation was browsed. 4
  3. Deer use in the right of way was 48 percent greater than in the adjacent forest. 2
  4. Deer can have a positive impact on a right-of-way by browsing on incompatible trees in wire and border zones, and by providing aesthetic value to a right-of-way. 22

References


1In this document the term ‘incompatible’ vegetation indicates tall-growing trees that are not compatible with management objectives for right-of-way function.


4Bramble WC, WR Byrnes and RJ Hutnik. 1985. Effects of a special technique for right-of-way maintenance on deer habitat. J. Arboric. 11(9):278-284.


19Yahner RH. Deer use of a right-of-way before and after maintenance in central Pennsylvania, USA. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (in press).


22Yahner RH. 2009. Deer use of a right-of-way in central Pennsylvania, US. J. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 35(1):47-49.