November 16, 2011
- Wildlife Management
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Animals face many threats to their survival: loss of habitat, disease, predators, weather and more. Wildlife managers study animals and their habitats to understand what they need to survive, why their populations change over time, how threats affect wildlife populations and whether they can help wildlife overcome those threats. What they learn helps them to keep wildlife populations at a level that their local habitat can support. Here are several ways that officials manage wildlife populations:
-Pass laws to protect endangered wildlife
-Allow "sustainable use" of some wildlife, including hunting and trapping
-Use hunting and other techniques to reduce overabundant animal populations
-Limit the number of buildings, roads and houses in an area
-Improve habitat by cutting trees, creating wetlands, and planting trees, shrubs and native grasses
-Build fences, tunnels or bridges for animal crossings
Let's look at the wildlife management of two different species:
Wild Turkey-Wildlife Restoration
When Europeans came to America in the 1600s, much of what is now New York State was covered by forests. Settlers cut down those forests for farm land and used the wood for building. A favorite habitat of many animals, including wild turkeys, was gone. Along with over-hunting (there were no laws regulating hunting back then) and disease, this loss of habitat meant the end for wild turkeys in New York State. By the mid-1800s, they were gone.
As people left their farms and moved to cities, some of this habitat started to grow back. Around 1948, a small group of turkeys moved into western New York State from Pennsylvania. Wildlife managers decided to help them by raising young turkeys to release into the wild. Almost 3,200 turkeys were raised in captivity and released in the beginning, but these birds lacked the survival skills of their wild relatives.
This, combined with severe New York winters meant only a few of those farm-raised turkeys survived. Wildlife managers tried a different approach a few years later. From the late 1950s through the early 1990s, DEC biologists netted groups of turkeys from some parts of New York and moved them to other areas with suitable habitat. The wild birds were well adapted to New York's winters, natural habitats and the predators and animal communities who resided there. DEC staff moved about 1,400 wild turkeys, and there are now more than 250,000 statewide. Today turkeys are abundant, and their populations are secure, allowing for a sustainable hunting season for this popular game bird. This is one of the most successful wildlife restoration programs in America's history.
For more information and photos of wild turkeys, check these other publications:
Fall 2010 Conservationist for Kids
April 2011 Conservationist Article on Wild Turkeys
Wild Turkey in New York State
White-tailed Deer-Wildlife Management
Nearly one million white-tailed deer live in many areas of New York State, but, like the wild turkey, their numbers were once greatly reduced. Deer were an important source of meat, bone and hide for both Native Americans and settlers. By the mid-1800s, excessive deer harvest by settlers and habitat loss to agriculture caused deer populations to decline dramatically. As that habitat grew back and laws to regulate hunting were adopted, the deer population rebounded from almost none in the 1800s to more than one million deer in 2000. As deer populations grew in number and range, hunting seasons resumed throughout the state. Large populations of deer can cause problems for farmers, tree growers, homeowners and motorists, and can substantially alter forest habitats.
Now, with deer common throughout New York and abundant in many areas, biologists work to balance deer numbers with human interests, land uses and ecological concerns. This helps keep the deer population under control while providing quality outdoor recreation for hundreds of thousands of deer hunters and generating nearly 11 million pounds of wholesome food for New Yorkers each year.
Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
Citizen Science-Turkey Watch
Neighborhood Wildlife Survey
Biologists make decisions about how to manage wildlife based on population numbers and available habitat. Take a neighborhood wildlife survey to observe what lives in your area. Grab a notebook, and have an adult join you on a walk through your yard, neighborhood or park. Repeat your survey activities once a day or once a week to see whether there are any patterns in the number and types of animals, where they are or what they are doing.
-What are the most common animals in your neighborhood or park?
-How many of them do you see? (Look carefully. Are you seeing one individual many times or different individuals?) -Where do they live? Describe the habitat.
-What do they eat? Do they eat at a particular time of day?
-Are any of them endangered or threatened? See DEC's endangered and threatened species page for a list.
-How do these animals help people? (e.g., eat rodents or insects, source of food for humans)
-How are these animals a nuisance to people? (e.g., eat vegetation, burrow inside houses)
The December issue of Conservationist magazine will have a great article on Citizen Science- be on the look out for it!
Become a Hunting Family
DEC offers free Sportsman Education classes throughout the year to train new hunters about safe and responsible outdoor practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in wildlife and habitat conservation. Then get your family involved in hunting by participating in the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program .
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Discover Norrie: White-Tailed Deer
Saturday, November 19 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Family Fun: Turkey for Kids
Saturday, November 19 at 10:00 AM
Parents and children must accompany each other. Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, November 16.
Teacher Workshop: Project Wild Aquatic
Saturday, November 26 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, November 23.
Watchable Wildlife: White-Tailed Deer
Saturday, November 26 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 PM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Friday, November 25.
Thursday, November 17 from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
An adult is required to attend with each child. Please remember to wear sturdy walking shoes, long pants and bring drinking water. For children in grades 1-5. Call 518-456-0655 to register.
Central New York
Programs at Rogers are now offered by the Friends of Rogers; there are no DEC education staff at the site due to fiscal constraints.
Saturday, November 26 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Cost: Members $12/Non-members $15. Call 607-674-4733 to register.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursday, November 17 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Saturday, November 19 at 1:30 PM
For adults and children ages 8 and older.
Friday, November 25 at 10:30 AM
Saturday, November 26 at 10:00 AM