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Re: Deer problems

IRIS-L subscribers who also subscribe to GARDENS--delete this, you have 
heard it all before...

I have spent much of the last year working on issues concerning people, 
plants and deer.  I have learned a few things that are not very 
encouraging, but might help people understand deer problems a bit better:

1.  Deer WILL eat virtually anything if hungry.

2.  Physical barriers are the only way to protect plants without constant 
respraying--and this means an electric fence, a double fence (two fences 
spaced so deer can not leap both), or a fence over 10 feet tall.  

3.  Different types of deer prefer different types of plants and their 
are regional and individual differences so it is practically impossible 
to predict what plants YOUR deer will eat.

4.  Deer eating plants in suburban yards are probably indicative of a 
population increase that will only end with removal of the deer by 
people, disease, or starvation.  Therefore it is extremely important to take 
proactive steps to manage deer populations before they destroy the habitat for 
native plants, certain tree species, small mammals, and songbirds.

5.  Unfortunately WE are the only deer predators in much of the US so we 
must take responsibility.  Controlled deer hunts in suburban areas 
are usually the most economical means of herd reduction.  Trapping and 
relocating is impractical (where would you take them???), expensive 
(usually hundreds of dollars per deer), and has an extremely high mortality 
rate (up to 80% in some studies).  Birth control is being researched, but is 
unlikely to be implemented except in areas where there is a captive population 
that can be easily treated and monitored.  Sharpshooters are an alternative 
for really urban areas as is trapping and euthanizing.   

6.  Call your local fish and wildlife department and find out what is 
being done in your area to deal with deer problems.  In many states there 
are Citizens' Task Forces that are making local and state-wide plans for 
deer management.

By the way...although some predator scents may work temporarily in some 
areas with some deer, deer seem to quickly learn that the actual predator 
is not really around.  And even though people hunt deer, most deer in 
suburbia are not put off by human scents (from hair, urine, etc.)

Debbie Green
Williamsburg, VA  USDA Zone 7/8

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