Sharing the Landscape with Deer

0:00 It may not seem like it, if your bushes have been chewed, but we know from extensive research that the deer population, nationwide, has […]

Published October 12, 2023 1:48 PM
2 min read

0:00

It may not seem like it, if your bushes have been chewed, but we know from extensive research that the deer population, nationwide, has remained roughly stable since the 15th century. In New York, it has increased and declined during the past decades. Mother Nature is a key source of population control. Trees don’t grow to the sky and neither do the number of deer.

The Center for Disease Control says the unfortunately named “deer tick” is equally likely to hitch a ride on squirrels, white-footed mice, birds, and raccoons. Eliminating deer will not meaningfully reduce the Lyme disease risk, any more than eliminating dogs will reduce the prevalence of “dog ticks”.

Deer movement is limited in our area by the density of development and highways. Killing deer within nature preserves, like Edith G. Read Sanctuary, will not affect landscapes distant from the sanctuary. Sharpshooters near residential areas are a greater concern than disfigured vegetation. Guidelines rarely match lived reality, and the hunting process is not exact. 

Hunters have told me that long waits in tree stands amp up adrenaline and the urge to shoot at anything that moves, including pets. Hunters are as likely to kill healthy deer as weak ones, thus altering the gene pool and ensuring future generations of weaker deer.

The Philadelphia suburb where I lived allowed “deer culling”. Not only “sharpshooters” were attracted to the task. A deer with an arrow lodged in its rump collapsed and died against my house. Another day, an arrow, bristling with metal spines, was in the ground beside my garage. 

Deer are often blamed for plant damage caused by rabbits and other animals. Deer-resistant plants, fencing, and tick sprays are better options to help us share our homes with the deer, as they share their homes with us.

– Peggy M. Franck 

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