In 2010, based in part on recommendations from an independent review, Providence Water began a white-tailed deer management program on select areas of its watershed property.  The review showed that deer were over-abundant on portions of Providence Water forest and their browsing on seedlings is a threat to the forest being able to regenerate itself as well as other species of wildlife that also make the forest their home.  The most prominent feature of this effort is a managed deer hunt where authorized individuals are allowed to hunt in specific well-defined areas.  The goal of hunting is to reduce the size of the deer population for the benefit of the entire ecosystem, not to provide recreational opportunities for the public. 
A healthy deer population will always be desirable on the watershed property, but the number of deer has increased dramatically in the last 30 years.  Repeated browsing has long-term negative effects on native tree seedlings, shrubs, and wildflowers.  The lack of small tree seedlings and saplings make the forest less resilient and not able to quickly occupy the growing space in the event of a disturbance to the forest canopy such as windstorms, insect and disease caused mortality, and timber harvesting.  The forest is in a better position to respond when there are many different species present of differing ages which can only come about with decreased browsing.


The second part of the deer management program is monitoring the vegetation to see if desired plants are able to grow.  With input from USDA Forest Service personnel, Providence Water has established a number of plots across its watershed land holdings where the height growth of certain species of sprouts and seedlings are measured every spring.  As time goes on, we anticipate that less deer palatable species being monitored, such as American beech, should begin to recover and grow.  When this happens, species such oaks and maples (which deer prefer) will be included for monitoring.  It will take years, if not decades, for the ecosystem to rebound and some plant populations may be diminished for even longer.  Monitoring results are used to help track success and failure and guide changes to the deer management program. 


Hunter Information:
Deer Management Areas and Maps: