The Suburban Deer: Nature-Friendly Ways to Deal With Stray Deer
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The Suburban Deer: Nature-Friendly Ways to Deal With Stray Deer

Suburban deer are a bit tame as it is and that, add those antlers and sharp hooves, create a potentially dangerous animal if something scares one inside the tight bounds of a yard.

Rule of thumb: Don't feed the deer. If deer gets accustomed to being fed by you, they'll expect equal treatment from your neighbors. Because that's not constantly the case, it tends to produce rather "interesting" problems and outright feuds.

Suburban deer are a bit tame as it is and that, add those antlers and sharp hooves, create a potentially dangerous animal if something scares one inside the tight bounds of a yard. The steady source of food causes them to hang around when they ought to be up in the hills, and this places them at risk for fatal daytime clashes with dogs, cars, and less-tolerant individuals.

The things you would put out for a deer, like a salt block, hay and oats, are food for cattle and a deer's tastes and gastrointestinal system and are more disposed to cope with roughage than hay. Deer graze on leaves, green twigs, new shoots, bark, acorns, apples, your roses, etc. If there are deer lingering that entails your yard is already supplying them with what they want in a pleasant, subdued, natural way. Do not spoil matters by trying to get fancy.

Naturally, you might not want the deer to feast in your garden. There is this neighbor who had deer overleaping his six-foot redwood fence and eating all his roses. He modified the height of his fence by working an eighteen-inch extension of chicken wire across the top of the fence. He left it slack (no tension) and shaky, and this ripple effect caused the already hard-to-see top edge of the wire even vaguer. In the twilight and dark it was hard to see it the least bit. The attempts on his roses halted and everybody lived happily ever after. The deer went on and scrounged and discovered things to eat in a nearby open distance area where they genuinely belonged.

Shaky top and eight-foot fences are the only obstructions that truly "repulse" deer. A bonus benefit of this type of fence is that neighborhood cats can not find a way over them either. Repellants usually work till the deer becomes very hungry. Lining your yard with unappetizing plants is a deterrent since deer will not eat them till there is nothing left to eat.

But when food is bountiful, you can typically keep deer away by utilizing deer repellants and landscape gardening with not-so-tasty plants. Most horticulturists have a selection of woody plants that are not on the deer's menu. Repellants work by instructing deer to stand back from your garden, and you must start employing them in the fall prior to springtime browsing starts.

Dogs love chasing suburban deer. They feel threatened, maybe angry, frightened or even all of the above; they have no means of knowing what will happen if a dog catches up with them. In most circumstances, neither does the dog. Regrettably, the thrill of the chase to come across new playmates is often accompanied by the thrill of the kill, and even the gentlest dogs can lose control and assume its own primal hunting instincts.

Sources:

Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments: a technical guide by Anthony J. DeNicola, 2000

Case Studies in Environmental Science by Robert M. Schoch - 1996

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Comments (2)

Great ideas. I had a problem with deer devouring my garden last year, but my HOA won't let us plant or build certain things (like a fence over 4 ft tall!). : (

I live in deer country and I've learned some of the plants and shrubs that they won't eat. Nice job on this.

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