From the Center

Recently, a reader left a comment on our website relating to a 2009 article by columnist Susan Morse. This article describes the early fall behavior of deer and moose, when males thrash their antlers against trees and bushes, leaving bloody strips of velvet hanging like “dark red party streamers.”

The reader had sought out this article because he wanted to fact-check a commercial aired by his insurance company. The commercial dramatizes a fight that allegedly occurred in early summer between a bull moose and a playground swing set. Things didn’t end well for the swing set, or the windshield of a nearby camper van. In the commercial, the (digitally rendered) moose has hardened, non-velvety antlers.

Hardened antlers on July 1 was an impossibility, asserted the reader, who then went on to describe his observations of the timing of deer rubs where he lives, along the Gulf Coast of Texas; the article confirmed that it’s just as impossible for moose in more northern locales. He stated – somewhat ominously, at least for anyone who has ever worked in client service – that after reading Morse’s article, he’d had “the discussion with my agent.”

I love this post. It shows a keen attention to seasonal change and animal behavior. It’s a reminder that, although most of our readers live in Northeast, others hail from faraway places. And it’s a cautionary tale: our readers expect a high degree of accuracy, and will hold us, and their insurance agents, accountable.

As our nonprofit has continued to expand online offerings, we’re hearing from more readers. Their comments often provide insight into what topics resonate and why. They also present opportunities for peer learning.

For example, not long ago a landowner in the Catskills posted a question, asking how to reduce the tax burden on land that he manages for wildlife habitat. We provided the practical answer: a link to New York’s 480-a Forest Tax Law. But perhaps more helpfully, a second landowner jumped in, sharing his positive experience working with foresters and his state’s forestry department and offering encouragement: “I applaud your wish to provide stewardship for your property and thus preserve it for future generations. I have 60 acres of woodlands and strive to do the same.”

In discussions with Northern Woodlands supporters this year, I’ve heard a lot of enthusiasm for more opportunities for interaction with topic experts and each other. Certainly, the strong interest in our conference attests to a desire for people to come together and share experiences. Looking forward to 2018, I expect we’ll continue to explore new ways to connect with our growing community, online and offline. In the meantime, I encourage you to check our homepage comments section. From deer rubs to duckweed migration (yes, that’s a thing), there are many great autumn topics to explore. Come join the conversation.


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