Reducing Deer Browse Damage

Reducing Deer Browse Damage, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2009

Some behaviors deer exhibit that may be useful in developing a deterrent plan.

Learns to tolerate:

  • bad taste or smell,
  • colored strobe lights,
  • sirens and loud noises;
  • Jumps high (up to 12 feet with sufficient motivation) or far (up to 30 feet with sufficient motivation), but not both at same time;
  • Crawls through openings as small as 7.5 inches;
  • More likely to jump fences in woodlands than in open areas;
  • Learns to remove bud caps and netting protecting terminal buds;
  • Follows customary paths to known food sources;
  • Tests for weaknesses in any and all barriers, repeatedly;
  • Nibbles young stems emerging from tube protectors and chemical repellents.

Well, this tells us how deer behave. Going to be tough to come up with real deterrents.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Went to the Botanical Gardens last Sunday for the first time in quite a while.

The Display and Children’s gardens were spectacular.
Couldn’t help but notice the deer fence around the whole area– and the large areas of fenced-in spaces in the open areas- exclosures, community garden plots, not to mention around a great many of individual plants.

If you look at the map of the gardens, the fencing is shown and called “deer fence,” so there is no denying its purpose.

The management of the gardens are smart. The fences are at least 10 ft tall and, for much of its length, at the top of a slope. That should keep the deer out so their plants can grow.

Its a very large property and most of the fencing is near invisible because of all the trees and natural growth they have been able to use as camouflage.
They also have a nicely fenced in area (good looking wooden fence) around the bonzai tree display.


Orange fencing spring up with the season. How lovely.

On our walk today on Andover, we came upon this lovely fencing, protecting the lilies growing inside it.

Can’t you just see the whole city of Ann Arbor sprouting these colorful fences? Of course the fence is too short for a large space, but will probably do just fine for this space, about 3’x 6′, provided the deer don’t trample it.

What is the municipal government’s role in this issue?

The increasing number of deer in parts of the city have a variety of impacts on city life. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that the city needs to respond to all of them.

For instance, deer can be a problem for gardeners. But gardeners are confronted with many other pests, from woodchucks to aphids that they don’t look to the city to resolve.

1. The city has a number of regulations that prevent citizens from alleviating the pest problem on their own. These range from the fence ordinance (we are not able to have fences tall enough on most property lines to keep out the deer; and we are not permitted to use electric fences on any part of the property) to regulations about what weapons are permitted to be used in the city (even nonlethal weapons like slingshots are prohibited). Most pest problems in city landscapes have solutions that individuals can apply on their own.

2. The problem is an area-wide one where it occurs, not just a spot problem. If I have an aphid infestation on a special plant, it is not affecting my next-door neighbor. The deer infestation is beyond the scope of an individual homeowner to address.

3. The very scale of the problem – having a herd of large animals romp through your back yard is not the same as a woodchuck taking out a few plants.

Input, Citizen’s Meeting on Deer, Dec 10, 2014– Huron High School

First, thank you to the city council and the city of Ann Arbor for reaching out to get citizen input. And Mr. Bahl, Mr. Fleetham, and Ms. Bissell for organizing and driving this meeting. Second, I’d like to thank all those who have participated, either online or in meetings like this; this sort of process is key to good and successful government.

You will hear tonight from many sources, citing studies and historical data, experts in ecology, environmental sciences and botany. I won’t take your time repeating that information…not only can you hear it in other comments but you can find it online at sites that are being promoted in handouts. It’s great data and incredibly valuable…I’ll let it speak for itself. I can tell you what is clear to me, after studying years of analysis from institutions and communities in Michigan, the Midwest and the East Coast, that:

    * the deer situation is shifting; populations are growing and incursion is spreading

    * habitat change is driving deer into populated regions

    * the risk and destruction are increasing, both on an ecological basis and from a public safety perspective

    * there is a range of options, but the two primary solutions are contraception and culling

    * a number of communities have already wrestled with this issue and usually end up choosing to cull; contraception is ineffective and expensive

I’d like to address in my short time, though, a very foundational issue that comes up in virtually every discussion I have around the issue of deer management in Ann Arbor: is culling consistent with the values of Ann Arbor?

I have four thoughts on this:

    * first. Allowing the Situation to grow is not a value of this town. If we don’t address this now, we’ll be back here next year or the next, and the numbers will be greater and even more unpalatable. And hopefully we won’t be talking about a human fatality.

    * second, managing on a home by home basis doesn’t solve the problem, it merely rewards the most diligent and capable. If I fence and spray, the deer go next door. NIMBY, not in my backyard, is not a value.

    * third, control through harassment, random denial of food, trapping, or death by hood ornament is less humane than focused, clear and deliberate action.

    * last, we value nature; what is happening is not natural. Deer and urban areas are incompatible. Racing across congested roads is not natural. Being chased by people and dogs is not natural. Fencing our properties and spreading caustic agents is not natural. Eliminating predators is not natural. We should encourage population management techniques that are consistent with the current ecological capacity.

We’re not alone. This issue has been around in other communities for years. We can learn from their mistakes and successes. These include college communities like ours. We are a community that values learning and adjusting our response to match the circumstances. The policies that worked before are no longer effective.

Tracy Grogan

#A2manydeer #wc4eb #realfactsabouturbandeer

Fencing Regulations in Ann Arbor

City Code requires permits for the placement and type of fences on private property (see page 3 of attached document). Your permit application should provide enough information about your proposed fence for the city planner to determine if it meets the requirements.

Residential Zoning Districts–Height and Opacity Limits:

Front open space:
Any fence within this are a may be up to 4 feet in height and no more than 50% opaque (i.e. must be at least 50% open, such as chain
link, wrought iron or picket fencing). Front open space dimensions vary by district: R1A=40 ft; R1B= 30 ft; and R1C, R1D, R2A & R2B = 25 ft. Exception: On a corner lot, a fence may be no higher than 30 inches within the first 25 feet on either side of the corner

Middle Yard, 25 ft back:
Any fence within this area may be no more than 6 feet in height and no more than 80% opaque (i.e. must be at least 20% open, such as board-on-board fencing).

Rear Yard:
Any fence within this area may be up to 8 feet in height and 100% opaque (e.g. a stockade fence). Note that a building permit is required for fences over 6 feet in height.

Read the full Fence Guidelines and see pictures at

or on the Washtenaw Citizens For Ecological Balance site at

Fencing your yards

There have been a lot of comments lately about using fencing as a deterrent for deer.

jillsI am posting here, and in the site, the regulations about fencing in Ann Arbor.

Please realize that a fence would have to be 10′ high to be a deterrent to deer– and even that is not guaranteed.

From my daughter’s Facebook page

See that shiny spot of light in the left middle of the photo? That’s the new deer fencing I put up last week. See the deer? Yeah. That’s on the INSIDE of my new deer fence.


Photo courtesy of my laughing neighbor who captioned it “Leenays 0, Deer 1.”