Brush Control for Wildlife
Brush management is the selective removal or suppression of target woody species to allow the increased production of desirable trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs for forage and cover for both plants and wildlife. This wildlife management practice includes retaining the proper kind, amount, and distribution of woody cover for selected wildlife species. Brush management planning must consider wildlife cover requirements, soil types, slope angle and direction, soil loss and erosion factors, and subsequent planning to control reinvasion.
This practice also includes the retention of snags (dead trees) to provide cover and nesting sites for cavity nesting animals, particularly avian species and mammals. It can also include the planting of native tree and shrub species to provide food, corridors and/or shelter where these habitat components are limited.
Best Areas for Brush Management & Control
The emphasis of brush management should be in areas with the best soils. It is here you will find the greatest potential for increased production of preferred plant species of herbaceous and woody plants. Erosion must also be considered when it comes to brush management for wildlife habitat since it takes soil to grow plants, produce food. Woody cover should be retained in areas of shallow soils and/or steep and rocky terrain where vegetation removal and soil disturbance would enhance soil erosion and where the response of preferred plants would be minimal.
Dense cover should also be retained along drainages and other natural breaks in the terrain. These blocks of cover can serve as corridors and as “refuges” that wildlife can retreat into for security when disturbed and for protection from inclement weather.
Brush Management Means Selective Removal
The control of brush should not be indiscriminate when it comes to the management of wildlife habitat. Some shrubs and trees are excellent wildlife plants that serve as sources of high quality foods, as well as cover. In Texas, for example, the control of plant species such as ashe juniper, eastern red cedar, mesquite, prickly pear, and oak species that invade a variety of rangeland sites is often warranted.
When these species dominate an area, they diminish plant diversity and the quality of habitat for most wildlife species, game and non-game animals. Habitat management can occur in the form of prescribed burning, mechanical, biological, or chemical control of trees, brush, or weeds. Most of these wildlife management practices will require the use of specialized equipment and the cost effectiveness of the different control measures must be considered.