From National Wildlife Control Training Program

Several repellents are registered for use to prevent deer damage to plants, including putrescent whole egg solids, ammonium soaps, thiram, capsaicin, garlic, and blood meal. Several home remedies, such as human hair and soap are reported to be effective, but research does not support these claims. In general, the effectiveness of repellents is highly variable and dependent on alternative resources, deer densities, habituation, and motivation of individual deer. Repellents must be reapplied every 4 to 5 weeks if deer feeding pressure is high, and those applied to plants must also be reapplied to new growth. In the northeast, cold temperatures and snow limit applications during the winter months when deer damage to woody ornamentals and young trees is greatest.

From a friend in PA

The beasts are rampant here this late spring / early summer. Whereas the 2015 rampaging of the beasts here commenced with the July 8 “running of the bulls” ( Spain) this year it began 3 weeks earlier. The local pols persist in their shoulder shrugging act of “we’ve looked into all; the options. Nothing can be done.” Last night a neighbor & I were playing “chase the beast.” in the twilight. His little girl & their friends are worried about an outdoor sleep out ( in a tent) with the beasts prowling our properties. I told him she ought to come to a muni meeting to make that statement.

See my letter to a couple of gardeners who have a show on the local AM station

Best Regards,

in deer infested Castle Shannon …. A Deer Sanctuary City

———-Original Message———-

Hi Doug:

I heard you & Jessica this Sunday June 26 on KDKA. bemoaning proliferating deer and the damages they cause. The problem is regional and that a regional solution is needed, which our fragmented Allegheny county municipal governments seems unwilling to tackle. We have what amounts to feral cattle wandering our properties and streets, destroying our landscape, fouling our properties with their defecation and presenting hazards to motorists.

Because the PA Game Commission, which has been granted control over virtually all wildlife, is funded solely from hunting licenses & game law fines, it caters to hunters who want more targets and hence we have rampant deer. These are prey animals and absent natural predators, humans must provide that function and the hunting community is woefully inadequate to the task. Restoring balance requires a more proactive approach on the part of municipalities overrun by these pests. .

We need critical mass to force a solution. It seems to me that gardeners throughout the area, united, could effectively demand action. Or, do we turn our communities into a kind of reversed zoo where people must surround their habitats with bars to keep out destructive wild animals. The problem is widespread and recognized by such authors as Al Cambronne:

and James Sterba.:

The University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Deer control group Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance have shown that notions of non-lethal deer control are “pseudo science”:

The pseudoscience of non-lethal deer management


As Gary Fujac of the PA Game Commission said to KDKA:
“There’s only one thing communities can really do, and that’s kill the deer and reduce the population for public safety,”
Local Community Finds Success In Curbing Deer Population

Why not light a candle rather than curse the darkness ? You have a forum which reaches thousands in our area. Would you add your voices to call for action in Allegheny County for the sake of both gardeners and for an ecological balance ?

The Orphan Fawns and culls

Buckmanager, Dec 15, 2008To begin, whitetail fawns are usually weaned and become functioning ruminants at eight weeks of age. Most fawns at southern latitudes are born in late May and June, meaning the majority of fawns are weaned by the end of August. And this makes sense from a biological perspective, because as late-summer food sources deplete the doe can then rely on the fawn to nourish itself. This covers the majority of whitetail fawns that hunters will encounter in the field during the fall hunting season.

In general, harvesting does with fawns will not impact an individual fawn, unless the fawn is less than two months in age. Fawns older than two months, found in areas with good habitat, are just as likely to survive after the doe is removed.

The First Months, 5 November 2010, Warnell School of Forest Resources, The University of Georgia
At about 2 weeks of age fawns begin experimenting with tender vegetation. By watching its mother feed, and by experimenting on its own, the fawn soon learns what foods to select. After about 2 months of age, the 4-chambered stomach is fully developed and the fawn likely could survive without its mother’s milk. However, fawns will continue to nurse until they are 4 or 5 months of age, or longer if the doe lets them.

WHITETAIL DEER – FAWNS, suwanneeriverranch.comA doe will sometimes protect her fawn if the predator is small, but more often she will not. The mother-fawn bond can also be broken in cases of starvation in which a doe will drive her own fawn away from a food source. That is nature’s strict law for the species: the most likely to survive come first. A doe can make more fawns, but she must be fed, alive and healthy to do it. Deer form small groups for much of the year. There are two kinds of deer groups. One is a mother deer and her fawns. One female deer may have up to three fawns at a time. The other type of group is made up of between three and five bucks.

Bucks try to prove their dominance (who’s toughest and in charge) by ramming each other, as well as kicking and flailing with their legs. Bucks also mark their territory by making rubbing their antlers on trees.

A doe has from one to three fawns in a litter. It usually depends on the age of the doe and how much food is around. Fawns stay with their mother for almost a year. She drives them off before she has a new litter.

The White-tailed Deer
Since mating season occurs in the fall, springtime is when whitetail doe tend to have their young. The average gestation period of the whitetail deer doe in North America is 200 to 205 days. This period can be shorter or longer depending on the availability of food. When food is plentiful the fawn will be born after a shorter gestation time while the opposite would be true if the food supply is scarce.As a general rule, most doe end up only having one fawn the first time; however, the following years they are more likely to have twins, and it’s really not uncommon for them to have triplets in some cases as well. Once she has her young, she is on her own raising her young.

Even after she begins taking out the fawns with her looking for food, they are usually not totally weaned until they are about 8-10 weeks old, meaning that she is quite tied down to them for some time.

Another interesting fact about whitetail deer doe in the spring is that this is the time when she often kicks out young males who were born the year before. Usually young bucks stay with their mother until they are almost a year old, but during the spring they usually leave on their own or the females will drive them away. On the other hand, young females often will stay with their mother for up to two years, and even then they usually stay in the same general area as their mother. However, once it is time for the doe to have a new litter of fawns, she often will return to her preferred fawning area in the spring, excluding the rest of her previous fawns from the area.

The Ann Arbor cull, as in most culls, occur in Winter months (after aerial survey– best with snow on the ground).
Since most fawns are dropped in May, the majority of fawns at the time of a cull are 7-8 months old.

The “orphan” fawns are then self sufficient and used to roaming around with the “herd”.

Deer Count in Michigan

From Deer Friendly:
Michigan data:
An estimated 1.5 million deer in 2015.
Based on harvest data about 1.4 in 2014, 1.6 in 2013 and 1.7 in 2012.

The last official estimate of 1.73 from 2011.
A significant population decline in 2013 and 2014 following harsh winters, most severe in the Upper Peninsula

From South Bend Tribune
Well, just be glad you hunt southern Michigan. The biggest drop occurred in the Upper Peninsula where harvest plummeted 25 percent and that certainly skews the state numbers. The northern Lower Peninsula wasn’t much better.

The UP suffered a brutal winter for the third straight year. There was more than 3 feet of snow on the ground before the Nov. 15 firearm season, making it difficult for hunters to get out.

More importantly, deer numbers have been declining due to heavy snow that makes it difficult for the deer to move and feed. That has led to fewer fawns and a big reason why the DNR is restricting antlerless deer hunting there this fall.

Southwest Michigan persevered much better. DNR statistics show some 8,000 deer were taken in Deer Management Unit (DMU) 311, which encompasses Cass, Berrien and Van Buren counties.

Of those 8,000, 4,400 were bucks.

Admittedly, that’s 1,000 fewer deer harvested than the year before, but there are some reasons for that, too.

The entire Southwest Michigan District, that covers far more counties, saw a 20 percent increase in doe harvest during the archery season but a 16.7 percent drop during gun season.

The district’s buck harvest during archery season climbed 8.9 percent but dipped 1.9 percent during the gun season.

More than 300 species of plants in Ann Arbor, based on the pollen records circa 1824

Often excluded in the discussion about deer numbers management over the last 10000 years or so, in Ann Arbor, was the very distinct and close relationship between humans and deer.

I daresay the major predator of the White-tailed deer, here, were Indians. In so doing, along with fire management — they established an extraordinarily beautiful, and floristically rich “natural area” here — with more than 300 species of plants in the pollen records circa 1824!

When Ann’s Arbour was settled, the were many exclamations about how wonderful the trees were (great Burr Oaks), and the richness of the herbaceous flora beneath (both prairie and Spring ephemerals). The town was built on a often used Indian campground, on the east shoreline of Allen’s Creek.

Were the Indians here ever to think they should not kill deer, they would have been eaten out of house and home, been without wonderful and comfortable clothing, likely would have had a great deal more trouble surviving.

Deer and humans have learned to be very close to one and other — but without the ability to kill them, things get way out of hand.

Chris Graham

HSUS’s Failed Deer Fertility Control Plan

Most recently, the radical animal rights organization attempted to push back against an urban hunt in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by proposing the non-lethal fertility control method. The City Administration there had recommended the hiring of sharpshooters to conduct annual culls of deer in the urban areas starting in 2016. This plan would also include a recommended ban on feeding deer and greater study of herd population size and movement. All of these are logical ideas meant to curtail a booming deer population in the city, and eliminate the well-known threats deer overpopulation causes.

These methods were recommended after a Cornell University study found that even with a 90% medication rate using HSUS-preferred sterilization methods; you can only stabilize the deer population. Additionally, the study pointed out that in suburban landscapes, like Ann Arbor, over 95% of female deer must be able to be surgically sterilized or the community should not even consider a sterilization program for population control. The cost of such a method would exceed $1,200 per deer.

Read more…

Two bucks fighting in a back yard– happened in my backyard, too

Two bucks fighting like this happened in my yard, too, November 2014- in Ann Arbor, MI. Of course, we didn’t have the snow then. They eventually ran off, but not before running across my raised deck, within inches of our sliding glass doors (both ways). The second buck ran around the deck.

Buck fight in Ouray

Adam Kunz was plowing snow in Ouray when he came across this epic buck fight. #ColoradoLiving

Posted by KOAA 5 on Thursday, November 19, 2015

From NBCNews, 2005

Deer Eating Away at Forests Nationwide

Deer eat away future forest

Today’s high deer population may shape how the country’s forests look decades from now. The animals are reducing the number of trees and seedlings and affecting which species will survive, forestry experts say.

In the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park in western New York, a 1,200-acre “safety area” for recreation where hunting is forbidden has seen vast damage from overbrowsing by deer.

“There are no saplings, no underbrush for ground nesting birds,” said Richard Parker, regional director of the Genesee State Park Region. “There will be no regeneration of the forest. In 40 to 50 years, as the current forest dies, there will be nothing to replace it.”

The deer are “eating anything and everything that’s there,” he said.

Read more

Living with Deer in Illinois

Other Control Methods

Other deer population control methods, such as sterilization or relocation, are not viable options. If the deer population in a given area is already high, merely sterilizing the deer that are already present will do nothing to reduce deer numbers in the short-term and is typically expensive. Use of surgical sterilization and immunocontraceptive (IC) vaccines continues on an experimental basis in some areas of the country. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may register the new IC vaccine, GonaCon, for use on free-ranging white-tailed deer. However, the highest effectiveness achieved (in stopping does from reproducing) during two field trials was 88 percent during the first year post-treatment on one site, and the effectiveness fell to 46 and 47 percent during year two on both sites. The EPA registration may specify that GonaCon must be hand-injected. Although it has been demonstrated that ICs can be used to prevent reproduction by individual animals for multiple years (in captive settings), not enough animals can be captured and treated in wild deer populations to have any significant population reduction effect.

Relocation of white-tailed deer in Illinois is no longer a viable option due to potential for spreading unwanted wildlife disease (such as CWD) and/or parasites. Additionally, the stresses of capture and transport lead to low survival of the deer.

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Michigan DNR

The build-up of deer in urban and suburban areas has also become a challenge. Other than fencing, nonlethal control methods have usually been unsuccessful or impractical, and lethal controls have eventually been applied. Management of deer in urban and suburban settings will provide many future opportunities for public education and involvement.

Read more about the history of white-tailed deer in Michigan on the MDNR site.