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RE: Deer

There's a real key issue hidden in the 2nd paragraph - we are developing the
habitat that used to support the population.  When we lived in Rockland
County NY we had a significant population of deer that lived in the woods of
the college next door.  Sightings were relatively rare.  Garden damage was
very near zero.  They came in the fall to feast on the apples that fell from
our 2 apple trees, for which I was grateful since they did a fine cleaning
job.  Then the college decided to build more dorms and parking lots.  Guess
what, as a side effect, the deer were displaced.  They had no home and no
food.  THEN, over the course of less than 2 months, we had a deer PROBLEM.
Not before.

The problem we have in the east may not truly be as much an increasing deer
population as a dramatically decreasing habitat.  The population that was
supported by the habitat is no longer supported by the habitat; we end up
with more deer in less space.

Now it is true that the overall deer population is increasing, but I believe
it is the more rapidly decreasing habitat that makes the problem  worse.  We
need to address both issues, and one of the very difficult parts of the
whole scenario is that part of the overall problem is the ever-growing human
population, on national and global scales.
Maryland zone 6

-----Original Message-----
From: Marge Talt
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Sent: 12/18/2002 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Deer

Well, David dear, it's clear you have not had a herd of deer in your
garden.  I have some I would happily send  to you so you could enjoy
them:-)  They are, indeed, beautiful animals...at a proper distance
from my garden.

For many years, I enjoyed having them around; they only seemed to
munch the crabapples and I was happy to share.  Then,  about a dozen
years ago, development really hit a fever pitch here and their
territory was restricted and hunting stopped and populations zoomed. 
I have gone out to find a dozen gathered in my small circle garden,
mowing everything but the Pachysandra down to nubbins (and not all
that quick to move out when yelled at, either). My azaleas did not
bloom for years; my yews were sticks with green on the top where they
were over 5' tall, ivy climbing trees is bare of leaves (still) up to
5'; no hostas were whole, stands of hardy begonias were sticks with
torn flags instead of leaves and on and on and on.  What they did not
eat, they stomped into the ground...those hooves go down over 6" in
soft soil.

I spent uncounted hours trying to protect stands of shrubs over
winter - the place looked like a concentration camp - and that often
did not work if we had snow and the fencing around the shrubs went
down or they got high enough to get over it.  I tried every spray in
the book; I tried those little electric shock posts at $50/4 (did
shock them, but not enough to keep them off the plants)...hours and
hours of time and a good bit of $$ invested and nothing worked well
or consistently.  

After they mowed some Cimicifuga (Actea) seedlings that I had nursed
for 5 years before setting out in the garden, that was the straw that
broke this camel's back.  It takes those seeds 2 years to germinate!

It was either fence or quit gardening and I chose fence and am glad I
did.  It was massive hard work for a solid year to get it up, but
worth every drop of sweat and mangled finger because I can now go
outside without getting sick to my stomach finding some cherished
plant decimated.

It's not a matter of simply complaining about wildlife - I cherish my
wildlife and encourage it and would have been happy to share to a
*moderate* extent, but deer know no moderation...they simply eat
everything to nubbins and when what they prefer is gone, they start
on their second choices and when they don't like it, they tear off
the leaves and spit them out on the ground...when you get a dozen
deer doing that, they might as well have simply eaten the plant...the
damage is the same.

They are decimating the understory of eastern woodlands - destroying
stands of Trillium, Arisaema and just about any other indigenous
wildflower, as well as seedling trees and shrubs; destroying habitat
for birds and other wildlife.  White tail deer are a tremendous
problem in those areas where their populations have exceeded the
ability of the land to support them and leave the ecosystem intact.

You can have all you want - I am certain that there are a lot of us
on this list who would be only to happy to send you dozens....now,
can we talk about transporting them? :)

Whew!  Sorry for the diatribe, but this is one topic that sets me
off...You can't engage in battle constantly for a dozen years without
getting sensitized to the topic:-)  A 12' fence of the type mentioned
in the original post must have cost the earth!  Lordy!  But, if I had
the money, I'd have done the same.  My 10' wire/net combo is NOT a
thing of beauty, but I cherish it...

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland

who better get back to work!!

Editor:  Gardening in Shade

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