"Exclosing" Deer at Cowassock


In 2017, SVT installed a deer exclosure at Cowassock Woods to demonstrate the effect that deer overbrowsing can have on the health of a forest. We knew it would take a while for the results to become obvious, and now, 6 years later, they are easy to see.

The exclosure fence encircles a small area and prevents deer from eating the plants inside. Recent photos (above, left) show lots of ground-layer and shrub-layer vegetation inside the fence. Small oak trees and shrubs such as mapleleaf viburnum are able to grow.

Outside the exclosure, however, the deer nibbling has kept trees and shrubs very small and also eliminated some of the ground cover (above, right).

The deer exclosure is part of our Forest Health Walk, a self-guided audio tour at Cowassock Woods that teaches visitors how to read the signs of a forest that indicate whether it is healthy or suffering.