As I walk from the streets of Gates, N.Y., to a hidden passage into one of the last wild areas in this town, I can't help but think to myself, "We have taken so much from the local wildlife." But as soon as the thought passes, I am in the realm of the deer. Everything -- the rumble of cars buzzing past, the sound of people talking -- disappears. I am in one of nature's last refuges.
This is a 140-acre forest with trails, ponds and -- you guessed it -- deer! If you're lucky, you can stumble upon a wild turkey, an owl or a woodpecker. Between the trails and bushes and trees, you can catch glimpses of deer leaping through the woods. Imagine wild colors of purple and green, trails dotted with the unmistakable tracks of deer. Even better, think of the feeling of actually seeing deer. I have been within 10 feet of these animals, and there is nothing like having a buck size you up. The last time I was back in the woods I could hear them leaping through the woods, crashing down on branches, reminding me of a stampede of antelope. The deer rule these woods.
At the same time, even this last refuge is threatened. The trails that the deer use are also used by ATV drivers, who do not think twice before littering or dumping cans and bottles in the woods. I am not saying that using an ATV is wrong; I am merely criticizing the use of these machines in wild areas. I am also concerned about the possibility of developing these woods for more housing. The problem here is that all 140 acres are owned by Dolomite, which is one of the largest materials suppliers in upstate New York. Although the topography is not ideal for development (the ground directly below the soil is bedrock), Dolomite could plop a "For Sale" sign on these woods. One can only hope that never happens.
I thought I would include a video of some of the scenery in these woods. Sadly, there are no deer in this video, but I thought I would include this so everyone can get a sense of the surroundings.
While looking up information on deer in New York, I found out there was a deer census in 1992, covering each county in the state. As of that year, for every acre of habitat in my county (Monroe) there were 20 deer. Although I could not find a current population for Monroe County, I hypothesize that the population went up exponentially and then leveled off because of several factors, mainly development. Through my own ventures into the woods, I have only seen six deer, but that does not necessarily mean that there are only six deer left in those woods. For more information on deer management in New York state, click on this link. There are many unanswered questions, so I will continue to investigate these woods and will post further updates on my findings. Look in your own backyard -- maybe you can see some local wildlife!
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