Dale L. Bartos
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Various Means of Limiting Ungulate Use of Aspen Regeneration in the Black Hills
Andrew M. Kota, Foothills Conservancy, Morganton, NC, and Dale L. Bartos, USDA Forest Service, Logan, UT
Protecting regenerating quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) stands from heavy ungulate use, especially elk (Cervus elaphus L.), is an important aspect of many aspen restoration projects in the western United
States. High costs to build and maintain exclosure fences and the difficulty of bringing
machinery to hard-to-reach areas often deter managers from constructing barriers.
This paper details a study done in the Black Hills of South Dakota that compared the
utility of livestock fences consisting of 3-4 strands of barbed-wire, complete wildlife
exclosures 2.1-2.4 meters in height constructed from woven wire, barriers created
from slash debris, and barriers created by a new technique referred to as tree “hinging.”
Slash treatments and livestock fences decreased ungulate utilization by 19%, hinge
treatments decreased utilization by 39%, and wildlife fences, as expected, eliminated
nearly all incidences of aspen sucker browsing.
Slash barriers could replace livestock fences where cattle are the main user of aspen suckers. Hinge barriers are more useful than either slash barriers or livestock fences in areas where wild ungulates are the primary browsers. Protection by hinging was not as effective as the wildlife exclosures, but more area could be treated at less cost using this method. In the last couple of years, hinging has been used on public lands in the Black Hills area with success. Details about placement, size, shapes, and utilization will be given.