Interested in making your land more attractive to wildlife?
Here are some timber and wildlife management approaches that will enhance wildlife
FOREST THINNING: Thinning certain trees from a stand is a valuable practice used to
maintain a healthy forest. Thinning will enhance an area for wildlife by:
- Allowing the remaining trees to receive more nutrients (water, sunlight), so in turn
they will increase their mast (acorn, nut) production. Mast is an important food
source for many animals, including deer, wild turkey, squirrel and chipmunk.
- Allowing greater sunlight penetration, permitting an increase in understory
development, which will, in turn, increase browse and cover for wildlife.
FOREST CLEAR CUTS: Openings scattered throughout a forest create diversity, which is ideal for attracting a wide variety of wildlife. Irregularly shaped openings, arranged to receive maximum sunlight, are best. Different types of openings will further increase habitat diversity.
- Herbaceous openings: plants and grasses in these openings do not develop a woody stem. Both food and cover are provided. Openings may consist of native plants and/or wildlife food plots (milo, millet, buckwheat, etc.) can be planted. Depending on the area, mowing should be done every one to two years to keep the opening grassy. Mowing should be done in the late summer to avoid disturbance during the nesting season.
- Brushy openings: brushy openings will further increase habitat diversity. Existing shrubs and brushy plants may be allowed to inhabit the opening and/or wildlife shrubs (winterberry, etc.) can be planted. To maintain a brushy opening, it should be mowed every five to six years. Cutting should not be done during the nesting season.
- Reverting clear cuts: If an opening is not maintained in a grassy or brushy state, it will revert to a sapling-sized stand in ten to fifteen years. However, such an opening will temporarily provide upland habitat to a variety of wildlife species. Reverting clear cuts, if cut on a rotational scheme, will continually provide openings in various stages of development.
CONIFER PLANTING: Scattered clumps of conifers provide cover to wildlife species. This is especially beneficial during winter months. Deer will browse on young conifers in the winter, as some birds will use them as nesting sites. Thinning hardwoods from an area where conifers exist will allow conifers to expand. Conifer plantings are beneficial in certain areas, such as openings at field edges.
EDGE EFFECT: Creating an edge, where two or more habitat types meet, is valuable wildlife habitat. Conversion from grass to brush to forest composed of existing or planted species is beneficial wildlife habitat, as it provides food, cover and nesting cover. Food plots, shrubs, and conifers can be planted to create an attractive edge. A natural, brushy edge can be produced by cutting all the trees twenty to thirty feet into the forest from the field edge.
SNAG/DEN TREES: A snag tree is a standing dead or nearly dead tree. A den tree is one with its trunk and/or limbs hollowed out (this includes some snags). Den trees are often alive and may continue to produce mast. Snag/den trees provide food (insects attracted to decaying trees), and living quarters for a wide variety of birds and mammals. An average of seven snag/den trees should be left per acre, evenly distributed throughout the property.
These practices give landowners an idea of how they can improve/manage their land for wildlife. If active management does take place, a State of Connecticut wildlife biologist can provide more specific assistance. Contact the DEP Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, Regional Headquarters, 209 Hebron Road, Marlborough, CT 06447, (860) 295-9523.