Preliminary evaluation of wildlife use of slash walls in hardwood stands at the Arnot forest in southeastern New York state
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The browsing of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has caused many issues with the regeneration of hardwood forests in the northeastern US. Constructing perimeter slash walls has been successful for excluding deer and helping tree seedlings regenerate. However, little is understood about slash walls and the role they serve for other taxa. We examined how wildlife interacted with slash walls using infrared-triggered trail cameras. The study was conducted at Cornell University's Arnot Teaching and Research Forest in Van Etten, New York. Camera traps (n= 32) were placed at random locations both facing slash walls and in adjacent control plots for 3 months during April-July 2022. Several species were photographed interacting with slash walls, and sufficient data were recorded for white-tailed deer, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and coyotes (Canus latrans). These three species were significantly more likely to be observed near slash walls than at adjacent control plots in open forest stands. The species diversity recorded indicated that slash walls do serve a larger purpose and may have significant conservation implications for wildlife.