LINCOLN, NEThe nontimber forest products industry has been growing rapidly since the mid-1980s, contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy annually. Examples of nontimber forest products (NTFP) include edibles such as fruits and nuts, medicinal and herbal products, and specialty floral and decorative products. Standouts in the NTFP industry include U.S.-grown herbs used to satisfy increasing consumer demand for herbal medications. American ginseng, for example, accounted for $32 million in U.S. export revenue to Asia during 1996. The emerging economic industry has its share of challenges, including the impact of wildlife that naturally inhabit forests where NTFPs grow. Of particular concern are white-tailed deer, which can reduce the quality, quantity, and profitability of NTFPs by "browsing" twigs and rubbing the stems of shrubs, trees, and plants.
When deer browse, or nibble on buds, twig-ends, and leaves of woody plants, shrubs and trees can be deformed, stunted, or, in the case of young plants, eaten completely. Deer browse year-round, but are most destructive during the winter when alternative foods are less available. Male white-tailed deer also rub the stems of trees and shrubs during autumn to remove velvet from their antlers and to communicate with other deer. Deer rubbing reduces the plants' health and can kill vulnerable trees and shrubs.
The financial impacts of deer browsing and rubbing on NTFPs, particularly woody ornamental plants, can be considerable. Heavily browsed tips or rubbed stems are not marketable, and thus are a direct loss to the grower. Losses of trees and shrubs due to deer damage can amount to over $2030/acre per year depending on the species.
To reduce damage and lessen economic losses, producers often turn to lethal and nonlethal techniques to control deer. Hunting is not always supported by the public, and may only be applicable in rural areas. Nonlethal techniques can be difficult to apply, e
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science