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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Forest animal damage - research and control methods


This paper focuses on managing wildlife damage in forest environments, with emphasis on the use of vertebrate pesticides in the western United States. Types of forest damage caused by vertebrates fall into the categories of seed destruction, foliage clipping and browsing, and root and bark injuries. Consumption of natural seedfall or following direct-seeding applications for reforestation varies with tree species as well as with vertebrate seed predators, which include both rodents and birds. With Douglas-fir, deer mice (Peromyscus spp.) are cause the greatest losses. For Ponderosa pine, deer mice, chipmunks, and ground squirrels are primarily responsible for seed loss. Seeding in black walnut is primarily impacted by gray squirrels and the eastern fox squirrel. Success with rodenticide treatments in advance of seed applications were only effective for short periods, as rodent populations rebounded quickly. Current efforts are relying on various seed coatings that provide greater efficacy. Clipping by small rodents is a particular problem with newly emerged seedlings; existing seedlings are also damaged by snowshoe hares and mountain beaver in the Pacific Coast states. Contact repellents have been effective but may need to be re-applied periodically. Browsing damage to existing conifer stands is caused primarily by deer and elk, and there is no general solution for this problem. Root injury to seedling and small saplings is most frequently caused by pocket gophers. A variety of animals may cause bark injuries: meadow mice (Microtus spp.) can seriously damage seedlings, while bark damage to both young and also mature trees can be caused by porcupine, woodrats, rabbits, squirrels, and pocket gophers. Bear damage to bark is usually seen on mature trees. Seed treatment formulations using endrin as the active ingredient are described, as are a foliar repellent treatment using TMTD, and the manufacture and use of salt blocks containing strychnine for porcupine control. Pertinent literature citations are provided.

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