Image by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay

A couple of months ago Ashley Stimpson contacted Duane about the Deer-Forest Study. She wanted to write a piece for the NY Times.  Ashley covers science, nature, and travel in her work, and we were excited to talk with her about the Deer-Forest Study. I mean how often do you get an opportunity to be featured in the NY Times! 

Ashley’s story, Deer are Everywhere, but We Barely Know Them, was published on Monday, October 16, online, and in print Tuesday, October 17!  

Needless to say, our humble blog has been introduced to a wide and diverse audience from across the country. In a day, Duane received MANY emails, was invited on radio talk show, and asked to teach a Lifelong Learning class. 

If you are new to the Deer Forest blog, WELCOME! We are so happy to have you and hope you will take some time to learn about the study

white-tailed doe with GPS collar standing in forest

After reading the waterfall of emails, I thought it might be appropriate to provide some context for those who do not usually move in the deer or research world on a regular basis, and I will use myself as an example. 

I grew up in suburbia; camped in the NH White Mountains in my teens; received a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science from a liberal arts college; became a field tech; earned a Master’s degree in wildlife biology from a land grant university; and stumbled into deer and CWD management almost by accident. 

Much of the feedback we received as a result of Ashley’s piece was positive. People sharing their experiences with deer and wildlife; others asking for advice on things they have seen. There were some who were disappointed with the strong hunting vibe of the blog. 

I have never hunted a day in my life. If you find yourself in this group as well, I invite you to read Biology is Messy. Nobody loves deer more than me. NOBODY. Beauty. Grace. Big brown eyes. Deer have it all! I have dedicated my entire career to their well-being. And I am staunchly pro-hunting. Why? Because I love deer and birds and trees and wildflowers. 

Crew member holding the remains of a study deer - spine with some hide attached.

Another thing new visitors to the blog might notice is the reference to techniques and equipment used in research. As scientists, our preference is to be as non-invasive as possible. But to understand the wonderful creatures of our world, we must inconvenience them to some extent. How else would we know about Buck 8917 and Doe 12866? How else could we all stand in awe of these complex beings and be reminded of just how little we know? 

While the focus of the blog is our unique and historic study, Duane and I have written about everything –  lead toxicity, soil pH, CWD, cancer and antlers, key deer, population models, spring ephemerals, even butterflies! We hope new readers will hang out and get to know us and the project through the 700 posts we’ve published. 

Duane and I will enjoy our 15 minutes of fame (It’s mostly Duane that’s famous). But what we really hope is that more people learn about the Deer-Forest Study. I stand by my statement that trees are boring – cool, yes – but boring so I’ll continue to focus on those brown-eyed beauties. 

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PA Game Commission

* Featured image at top of page by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay

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