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 ?

Remember to protect your new city trees from the deer!

From NextDoor in River Ridge

Many of us in River Ridge received new trees from the city today (29 trees today alone!), and many more will be planted within this week. The trees are NOT deer resistant, so your tree might need a little help from you to survive.

Here are some tips:
1. Protect the trunk with tubing, chicken wire, or other fencing wrapped around the trunk.
2. If the lowest branches are within easy reach of deer (lower than 5 feet), you might want to protect them with netting, with fencing around the tree, or another method such as strings staked around the tree at about 3′ and 5′ above the ground.

For the common areas (centers of the “circle” streets), I hope everyone will pitch in to try to protect the trees. My son and I are going to use the extra fencing we have on a few of the trees in Balmoral circle. We’re also going to try tying a few mylar strips on the trees, with the hopes that they will spook the deer.

Enjoy our lovely tree and let’s try to help them survive!

Barton Nature Area

bartonhillsParts of the Barton Hills Nature Area contain a remnant of a lovely Oak Savannah with some trees that were able to spread their branches with no interference. They are magnificent. However, where will their successors grow? We will explore the impact of the growing number of deer on oak seedlings. It is easy to miss the damage as you hike along enjoying the birds or the showy goldenrod or the other pleasures of the area. However, once you learn the distinctive profile of deer browse and the resulting deer shrubbery or stumps, you have a better understanding of the pressure on our natural areas.

In our neighborhood, the deer herbivory is of a different order of magnitude. A lot happens when virtually nothing is done to curtail the deer population.

Remember what Douglas Tallamy said about oak trees: Quercus supports 532 species of Lepidoptera. The caterpillars of those butterflies and moths provide part of the nearly 100% protein diet that our songbirds need to raise their young.

When Animal Rights Sabotage the Natural World

By Richard Conniff

When Animal Rights Sabotage the Natural World, Strange Behaviors, April 8, 2016It’s not a failure to communicate. Animal rights groups are often brilliant at communicating. It’s a failure to reason in the face of scientific evidence, and it comes up almost endlessly for people who do the real work of protecting the natural world.

The latest case happened in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The city wanted to cull a booming deer population that is destroying the forest understory, damaging local landscaping, and causing car accidents (88 last year, double what it was just five years ago). Then both the Humane Society of the United States and the local chapter of the Humane Society—two separate entities—showed up to cry, “Cruelty!”

The good news from Ann Arbor is that city officials saw through the HSUS smokescreen of nonsense and lawsuits. They went forward with their cull, taking out 63 deer earlier this year. The venison went to food shelters. It remains to be seen whether ecological common sense will endure through another round of emotional assaults before next winter’s cull. Here is the bottom line, for when HSUS shows up in your community. Because those two words, “Humane Society,” start the name, a lot of people donate to HSUS under the assumption that their gift supports local animal shelters. That’s how HSUS was able to collect donations totaling $135 million in 2014, and it’s the reason even some University of Michigan faculty thought it was almost sacrilegious to criticize the group. In fact, HSUS has no direct connection to local animal shelters, and only a tiny fraction of its budget goes in direct grants to animal shelters. Its main function, according to its tax statement, is “advocacy and public policy”—that is, lobbying.

‘Professional harvesting’ needed to reduce North Fork deer population to a level that won’t pose threat to human health: report, Southold Local, April 5, 2016Meaningful reduction of the deer herd on the North Fork is the only realistic way to control the serious tick-borne diseases infecting local residents, according to a report prepared by Southold Town’s tick working group. And the only way to achieve the reduction needed is to incorporate professional deer harvesting into any deer population management program, because recreational hunting cannot alone reduce the herd to a level that will not pose a threat to human health, the report concludes.

Read more at the Strange Behaviors Blog.
Follow the issues at

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