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7/5/16- Wild Pears

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by Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

It is a rare occasion to see deer in a neighborhood but it is even rarer to see them at 2 o’clock in the afternoon standing under a pear tree steady gobbling up pears. This crazy scene was taking place in my backyard just a few days ago! After watching them eat for what seemed like 30 minutes, I decided to study a little bit more about pear trees.

To my surprise, the wild pear tree (Pyrus communis) and all of the other similar species originated in Europe. It is not documented exactly how or when the pear came across the great lake, but the wildlife sure is happy about it. The pear has evolved over many years from a nasty, gritty pear to a delicious fruit that southerner’s like to lather up with mayonnaise and cheese…they call it a pear salad. The pear tree is very hardy and most cultivars are blight resistant. They prefer sandy-loamy soils with a pH of 6.0-6.5 and that are well drained, but some species also do well in poorly drained soils. Their shape is very distinctive, from the Bradford pear to the Wild pear; they all have the same “pear” shape which is skinny on the top and fat on the bottom. As for Bradford pears, they are not very palatable to wildlife. The fruits are not as numerous or as large and they are geared more toward aesthetics than wildlife forage. The best pear trees to plant for deer and other wildlife are species that resist fire blight such as Keiffer or moon glow. Be sure to check local nurseries and find out what cultivars they have.

Pear trees are a great source of wildlife food and are pretty self-sustainable. They require little to no maintenance and produce fruits at certain times of the year, depending on the specie. When they are not fruit bearing, they have small to medium sized white blooms. I have four in my back yard and judging by how many pears they have produced, they are very old. However, thanks to the deer population in the backyard, the lowest hanging branches are lucky to even bear a twig.

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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