ECO PRESENTATION – 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Digital presentation ‘Slogs Through Bogs’ with SUNY Oneonta biology professor Dr. Donna Vogler who completed a survey of the habitat of the Cranberry Bog of the Greenwood Conservancy, the focus of this talk. Join Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society to learn about the ecology of our local wetland at www.facebook.com/DelawareOtsegoAudubonSociety/
WINTER PROGRAMS – 1 – 3 p.m. Bring the kids for some learning fun over February break. Choose from programs ‘Forest as a Habitat’ featuring interactive games on how action of animal & humans affect the forest, or ‘New York State Breakout Box’ families try to open the Breakout Box with their knowledge of NYS social studies. Free, open to public. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm
BE INFORMED – 6:30 – 8 p.m. Learn about past, present, future of 2 invasive species in Otsego County. Research Specialist Holly Waterfield presents ‘A Decade of Zebra Mussels: Impacts & Challenges in Otsego Lake.’ Director of Ecological Research Institute Dr. Jonathan Rosenthal presents ‘Emerald Ash Borer: Current Status and the Way Forward.’ Free, open to public. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/be-informed-lecture-series-invasives-species-past-present-and-future/
PERFORMANCE – 7 – 10 p.m. Support Emergency Shelter program by Opportunities for Otsego while enjoying evening of music by Steve Fabrizio Band. Features light hors d’oeuvres, raffles, cash bar. Cost, $25 at door. B Side Ballroom, 1 Clinton Plaza Dr., Oneonta. 607-433-8000 or visit www.facebook.com/ofoinc/
PRESENTATION – 2 p.m. Learn about the Chesapeake Watershed and the Otsego County Conservation Association, by OCCA Executive Director Leslie Orzetti, PhD from the “The Gathering Place” series. Woodside Hall, One Main St., Cooperstown. Info, 607-547-0600, ext. 102 or visitwww.facebook.com/Woodside.Hall/
Most of us enjoy watching and/or hunting deer. They seem harmless enough – that is, until one runs in front of your shiny new car. Many people enjoy feeding deers with deer feeders you can learn more about at places similar to feedthatgame.com which is great if you have the population of deer under control. However, the 650,000 or so forest landowners in the state may have a different perspective.
Each year they pay taxes on forest property with an expectation to recreate there and possibly even harvest some timber to help pay the taxes.
When they visit their woodland and look closely at the understory beneath the forest canopy, they expect to find the seedlings – the next generation, called “regeneration” – of the mature trees that produce mast (acorns, nuts fruits) for wildlife and either sawlogs for lumber or pulp for paper.
What they expect to find isn’t what they
Deer are decimating the forest understory. Because we have made it socially unacceptable to cut trees for a long time, about all that is left in the forest is mature trees – the brush and other young forest species that deer browsed are gone.
What is left are the species that can grow in the shade of the adult trees and, unfortunately, deer have a preference for the species like oaks that produce mast and sawlogs for lumber and maple and ash that also produce wood products.
Thus, deer over-browse those species and leave less desirable, invasive species.
In other words, deer, like beaver, can alter their own habitat. On average, a deer eats about 8½ pounds of vegetation per day – that’s a lot of twigs being eaten by an estimated statewide population of one million deer.
This isn’t a hypothesis. It is a real, scientifically validated phenomenon. In fact, scientists are concerned that this over-browsing will have a “legacy effect” – there may not be a next generation of the forest as we know it today.
Those of you who live in Oneonta have seen the consequences – deer in the middle of Chestnut Street or Ravine Parkway on their way to eat your shrubs.
The problem is real. The question is what to do about it? Because we have removed the large predators, with the possible exception of the coyote and black bear, that once controlled the number of deer, we rely on hunting deer to keep their numbers in check. Hunting remains a popular pastime for many and is now becoming somewhat of a public service in the areas where deer populations are growing out of control. Hunters may find the use of technology like Hornady Ballistics Weather Meter extremely useful when it comes to taking out the animal first time.
The number of hunters continues to decrease and the hunting access to private property and local towns and villages is also declining.
Thus hunting, as we practice and regulate it now, may no longer be an effective management tool.
Do we need to re-examine how to more effectively harvest deer? That may be easier said than done. There are animal rights groups that oppose hunting altogether. There are sportsmen’s groups that are pro-hunting and may view any tinkering with the status quo as a threat.
Then there are conservation groups that have an interest in maintaining healthy forests that produce abundant wildlife of all species. The DEC’s Lands & Forests Division is tasked with doing what it takes to protect forest regeneration. Another Division, Fish & Wildlife, may favor keeping the deer population at a “huntable” level.
Like most natural-resource-related issues, this one is complex and efforts to address it are likely to spark controversy. Pennsylvania attempted to address the issue of over-browsing about a decade ago without success as the various interest groups couldn’t agree on a workable solution.
If we care about the next generation of New York’s forests, we can’t afford to let that happen. We must listen to what the science tells us and learn to work together for the common, long-term health of both the forest and the deer.
Hunters have lots of equipment options available to them. To make the process of selection easier, websites like Outdoor Empire have many helpful articles and reviews that provide comprehensive details on the best and latest gear with which to hunt more effectively.
Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administrator and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.
ART & MUSIC – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Outdoor street festival featuring outstanding regional artists, crafters, musicians, writers, more. Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-2070 or visit cityofthehillsartsfestival.com
O-COUNTY FAIR – 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. See best Otsego County has to offer. Daily shows, rides, more. Highlights include equestrian Gymkhana, bicycle giveaway, truck pull, livestock parade of champions, Supreme Champion Showmanship, talent contest, more. Otsego County Fair, Mills St., Morris. 607-263-5289 or visit www.otsegocountyfair.org
DANCE PARTY – 6 – 10 p.m. Back to the 80’s with cover band “Flux Capacitor.” Includes snacks, beer, wine, soft drinks. Cost, $25. Proceeds to Greater Oneonta Historical Society building fund. Deer Haven Campground, 180 Deer Haven Ln., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.facebook.com/OneontaHistory/
MUD HIKE – 10 – 11:30 a.m. Take a walk around the farm, learn about mud, find animal tracks, make some of your own. Wear boots or bring a change of sock & shoes. Mohican Farm 7207 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/get-the-kids-out-mud/
JUSTICE FILM SERIES – 5:30 p.m. Screening of “My County, My Country,” (2006) about the impact of the US invasion on Iraqis trying to pick up the pieces of their country. Includes vegetarian dinner at 6, screening begins at 7. Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta, 12 Ford Ave, Oneonta. Call 607-432-3491 or visit www.uuso.org
LECTURE SERIES – 6-8 p.m. Go ‘Up The Creek’ with Dr. Orzetti. Learn stream ecology, collect water quality & critter samples. Learn about a new program starting this fall. Mohican Farm, 7207 St. Rt. 80, Cooperstown. Call (607) 547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/save-date-informed-lecture-series/
BLOOD DRIVE – 1-6 p.m. Help save patients in the hospital. Donate blood and platelets at Main Street Baptist Church, 33 Main St., Oneonta. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org