Dealing with Deer
expansion of suburbs and the resulting landscape
changes have created ideal habitat for deer. Mild
winters and lack of natural predators have also
contributed to the growth in the suburban deer population.
Consequently, the chance for conflicts with humans
increases as the number of deer increases. Fortunately,
most deer damage can be successfully abated with
simple, humane techniques.
Fencing landscape plants and crops is the
most effective way to eliminate deer browsing. Fences
should be at least six feet high and openings should
be no more than four inches wide. Fencing should
be combined with chemical repellents and other deterrents
for the first year.
Individual trees, bushes
and groundcover can be protected with stiff plastic
netting. Netting is most effective when used for
short periods during critical times; it reduces
rather than eliminates browsing.
Visual deterrents such as strobe lights,
timed lighting systems or Mylar tape strung between
trees may startle deer. Loud distress calls of other
animals, commercial ultrasonic devices, motion-activated
sprinklers, tin cans rattles and other noise deterrents
can help scare deer away from your yard. However,
deer may become habituated to these hazing techniques.
To maintain their effectiveness, combine them with
other approaches such as fencing and chemical repellents.
A variety of commercial and home-made repellents
have proven successful in deterring deer; Consumer
Reports rates Rockland's Hinder® to be a "Best
Buy." Repellents work either by making plants unpalatable
or by giving off an offensive odor. They are most
effective if used when signs of deer first appear
and not after significant damage has occurred. Deer
repellents are available at nurseries and hardware
Mylar tape and the Scarecrow® motion-activated
sprinkler are available through Wally's Workbench
at the shelter or online.
Blend 4 eggs, 2 ounces red pepper sauce and
2 ounces chopped garlic with enough water
to make 1 quart. Strain and apply liquid with
a garden sprayer. Makes enough for one application
on 16 bushes.
The selection and placement
of plants has a significant impact on the extent
of damage. Some plants attract deer, while others
may repel them.
- Catnip, Chives, Garlic, Honeybush, Lavender,
Onion, Sage, Spearmint, Thyme and Yarrow.
and shrubs - Bottle brush, Douglas fir,
Holly, Jasmine, Juniper, Maple, Oleander, Rhododendron,
Wild Lilac and Blue Spruce
and groundcover - Allium, Black-eyed Susan,
Chrysanthemum, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Iris, Oriental
poppy and Zinnia
Property borders and
entryways can be made less attractive by lining
them with resistant and repellent plants. Also,
grass and underbrush should be kept trimmed and
ripe fruits removed promptly.
With the increase in
deer population comes an increased risk of deer-vehicle
collisions. Accidents are dangerous and can be fatal
for both people and deer. Here are a few tips to
avoid hitting a deer:
- Always watch for
wildlife, especially at dawn, dusk and the first
few hours of darkness. Be extra cautious in late
spring and mid-to late fall.
- Glance continuously
from the road to the roadside, looking for movement
where roads are bordered by fields or natural
habitat. Heed warning signs and reduce speed in
places deer are most likely to cross. If you see
one deer cross, expect others. If a deer "freezes"
in your headlights, try turning your lights off
and then back on.
Please Don't Feed the Deer
Feeding by humans only
serves to encourage deer to remain in an area and
it reduces their fear of people. Moreover, under
certain conditions, artificial winter feeding can
boost the birth rates the following spring.
More information about
humanely co-existing with our wild neighbors can
be obtained by browsing our other expert
Modified and reprinted
with permission of the Animal Protection Institute.