Rooted in Research

Reading the Foodscape: Advances in White-Tailed Deer Habitat Management

Cover image for Research ReviewWhite-tailed deer have an interesting and complicated recent history. While widespread hunting nearly a century ago drastically reduced the species' population, conservation programs and regulated hunting have caused overall populations to rebound significantly. For decades, high-density deer populations have suppressed forest growth, decimated certain wildflower and shrub species, and degraded habitat for wildlife and recreation.

Download (1.3 MB PDF)

For more information contact

Andrea Brandon
Science Delivery Specialist
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station

Key Management Considerations

  • High-density deer populations can suppress forest growth, wipe out some plant species, and degrade habitat for wildlife and recreation.
  • Deer management has tended to rely on hunting for population control, with less emphasis on habitat health and biodiversity.
  • Ongoing research by the Northern Research Station and its partners is helping land and wildlife managers evaluate deer habitat and hunting strategies by examining forest health and biodiversity.
  • In northern Pennsylvania, when about 20 percent of a square-mile area was managed to provide a healthy deer forage “foodscape,” the negative deer-browsing impact was reduced so much that the area resembled a fenced off area where deer were kept out all together.

Last modified: 8/4/2020