The three most serious problems facing New Jersey's forests and the wildlife that relies on those forests are the overpopulation of white-tailed deer, the spread and increasing intensity of the exotic invasive species problem, and the lack of young forest aged 0 to 20 years.
For the past 20 years, white-tailed deer populations have been very far above levels at which negative impacts are seen within the forest. Put very simply, the deer are eating critical wildlife habitat and seedlings needed to regenerate the forest faster than they can grow. Further, the deer avoid exotic invasive plants, leading those plants to spread very quickly in landscapes where the native plant populations are stressed by the deer.
In many areas of northern New Jersey, the forest understory (save for exotic invasive plants) is missing, having been browsed clean from ground level to as high as the deer can reach. Gone or declining are the understory plants for songbird nests, as well as the seedlings and saplings that would take over when natural or designed forces create a disturbance in the forest canopy.
Some forest landowners have begun installing 8' high deer exclusion fencing in order to keep the deer out so that the forest will be able to regrow these important plants. Our recommendation is for 8' high fence, with the bottom of the fence well-fastened to the ground to prevent the deer from crawling underneath. The results that we have seen at properties has been successful, with thousands of naturally-grown seedlings per acre on the protected side of a fence compared to just a few on the unprotected side.
Although we do not install deer exclusion fencing, we maintain a list of contractors who are able to provide this service.