Before: Fewer Deer in 2001
After my “Can’t See the Forest for the Deer” op-ed appeared in last week’s Wall Street Journal, I received several e-mails from readers. One was from Southold, New York—the same Southold out on Long Island where a suburban deer cull is currently underway. My correspondent lives right next door to the Tall Pines Conservation Area mentioned in last week’s op-ed and blog post, and she’s unfortunately experienced the same level of deer damage on her own property. She was kind enough to send me these before-and-after photos of the woods beside her cottage.
She wrote: “In 2001 we could not walk thru our woods- so filled with undergrowth, wild berries and plants, butterflies snakes salamanders frogs small animals all over and ground nesting birds. It is DEAD now – you can see thru 1000 feet . Nothing alive below 6 ft from the ground. We had a few deer in 2001. HERDS of them now… We’ve both had Lyme disease and we drive 15 miles an hour- as many deer run across the road every time we go out- including daytime… People do not want to visit us on the East end due to the tick diseases.”
Soon after buying her four acres, she created a stitched-together panorama showing the entire 900 feet of frontage along the road. (The photo above is one of many she used to build her panorama.) Back then deer numbers were apparently at a lower, more ecologically sustainable level. As you can see from the photo below, that’s no longer true. Lately she hasn’t felt excited about taking regular photos showing the missing understory and midstory in her woods. She did, however, find this 2013 Google street view of her property.
By now Google must have collected thousands of street views that document the impacts of overabundant deer in America’s cities, parks, and suburbs. Some streets must have been photographed repeatedly over the years. I find that whole idea fascinating, and I hope someone of a more empirical, analytical bent will find in it the germ of a tremendous research project. But for the reader whose woods are pictured below, that’s little consolation.
After: A 2013 Google Street View of the Same Address
© 2014 Al Cambronne