Habitat Conservation
Assistance Network
Proactive Conservation for Working Lands

Herbicides as an Alternative to Prescribed Burning for Achieving Wildlife Management Objectives


Abstract.—Prescribed burning is used for many silvicultural and wildlife management objectives. However, the use of prescribed burning can be constrained due to difficulties in obtaining burning permits, concerns about liability, potential effects of scorch on growth and survival of crop trees, its sometimes ineffective results, limited burning days, and the costs of applying, controlling, and monitoring burns. For some landowners, herbicides offer a cost-effective alternative to prescribed burning for manipulating plant communities and wildlife habitat, especially when the boundaries of application are  closely defined and the focus is on individual habitat components. Although the ecological effects of fire and herbicides sometimes differ, when used alone or with other management practices herbicides offer an opportunity to meet many wildlife management objectives. In this paper, we discuss and provide examples of wildlife management objectives that have been met by using herbicides, and factors that should be evaluated when considering use of either prescribed burning or herbicides.

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