April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day

Deer Scat (1)

Okay, so the photo to the right is not of jelly beans.  It’s deer scat.  Or, if you prefer, and aren’t offended by it, deer poop.

Scat, poop, droppings, feces, whatever you call it, the material can help you identify animals you may never see, but are sharing your favorite trail with.  Heck, maybe you’re sharing your yard with them.

Wildlife biologists also use scat to help them calculate population estimates.  With deer, one procedure used is a pellet count.

In the spring, after the snow melts, researchers will set up a transect, establish their plots along the transect, and get to work counting the piles of deer pellets in each plot.  As with most research methods there are protocols to follow.  One set of protocols only allows piles with 10 more more pellets to be counted.  Any piles with less than 10 pellets aren’t included in the data.

Deer populations, like any population, impact the ecosystem they inhabit.  Often, it’s what, and how much deer eat that causes the impact.  Foresters, landowners, and other land managers can often make better management decisions if they know the size of the deer population on their property.  This is one tool, of many, used in making good conservation decisions.