Deer damage?

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slowworm

Full Member
May 8, 2008
1,380
381
Devon
Can anyone confirm this is damage caused by deer eating the bark? It's a photo of a goat willow on my woodland in Devon; there's loads of roe about which I see all the time and the possibility of red deer that I've yet to see. I know the roe bucks fray their antlers on the trees but this damage is different and looks as though the bark has been eaten. However, the Forestry Commission info only lists red, sika and fallow as bark munching critters. The height was up to 1.3m, so just at the limits of roe.

One interesting point is that although there's loads of goat willow about it only seems to be this tree that's been attacked and several branches have been attacked. It also has healed wounds that show the bark has been eaten in previous years - one could almost conclude the deer either like the taste or there's something special about this one tree.

deer_damage_goat_willow1.jpg
 

swyn

Full Member
Nov 24, 2004
846
5
62
Eastwards!
Interesting photo'. I'd hazzard deer.
I have just come across vole damage, obviously on a much smaller scale! Decimated a hedge though. Hare damage all around me with young saplings stripped to a yard high. A salutory lesson to not remove tree guards too early. Definately not the b***dy grey squirell as this is out of season.
We have Muntjac and Roe so I'm no expert on the others coz I don't have experience of their habits first hand.
Swyn.
 
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slowworm

Full Member
May 8, 2008
1,380
381
Devon
No horses have access to the area, just wild animals. I saw a very large roe buck in the area yesterday so perhaps there's just some big roe about. We have voles, rabbits and squirrels about that do other damage to our trees but, thankfully, not as bad. There's plenty of food about as well so hopefully bark stripping will not be that widespread.
 

greensurfingbear

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
at first glance I'd say yes it is deer damage. They only have lower teeth at the front of the jaw they tend to chisel a bit low down then strip it off.

I wonder if they / it only attacks this tree as the bark is easier to peel with it already being damaged?
 
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Feb 15, 2011
3,860
1
Elsewhere
I'd say deer too but I wouldn't say damage :rolleyes:.........bark contains valuable carbohydrates & deer (other species too ) have been eating bark for millions of years but they haven't cottoned on yet that there are fewer trees around & that every tree belongs to a human being.......they're not the most intelligent of animals.;).
 

slowworm

Full Member
May 8, 2008
1,380
381
Devon
I wonder if they / it only attacks this tree as the bark is easier to peel with it already being damaged?

As far as I can see the new damage isn't near the places of old, healed damage.

Blacktimberwolf, I understand why animals eat bark, but I wondered why the deer only at the bark from one out of 100s of trees. I wondered if there was anything special with the tree - perhaps medicinal?

Today I've noticed another tree that has also had its bark stripped, two multi-stemmed trees which have several large patches of stripped bark and other trees of the same type untouched - curious.
 

Husky

Nomad
Oct 22, 2008
335
0
Sweden, Småland
When I went to university I did an experiment with willow leaves an beetles that feed on them. Willows contain different "antiherbivore" compounds such as tanins. If you take a leaf from one tree and bite it it may taste more or less bitter then a different tree. With beetles and a gas chromatographer I confirmed that the beetles prefer the low tanin trees.
This may be the reason for the selective bark feeding?
Also the amount of tanins increase as a response to browsing but diminishes after a few years.
 

slowworm

Full Member
May 8, 2008
1,380
381
Devon
That makes sense Husky, thanks. I'll try to remember to taste the leaves in spring although I expect my taste buds are no where as good as a deer's.
 

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