Steeves/Trail Mix: Maybe this is the answer for deer who forget they’re wildlife

Residential deer behave as if they've forgotten they're supposed to be wild. Perhaps they need a little behaviour modification.

They're hardly wildlife when they mistake planter boxes for feed troughs

They're hardly wildlife when they mistake planter boxes for feed troughs

Slowly but steadily he marched across the yard, head held high, showing off his big set of antlers as he stepped out of the trees.

Everyone sipping  and nibbling as they chatted on my friend’s patio looked up in awe, then they gasped as another big stag emerged from the greenery, following in the footsteps of the first.

Sipping and nibbling came to a halt, though, as a third, larger animal followed the pair, and everyone watched as the trio crossed the back yard and began pulling at the green leaves on some bushes at the edge of the property.

The antlers were still smothered in the soft velvety fuzz that covers them each spring as the bony antlers grow in, even though it was past mid-summer.

Luckily my friend wasn’t growing any prize roses on the bank above his patio, because those boys would have made short work of all the buds and the tips of the branches, just as they shredded the bushes they found instead.

I had to laugh the other morning when I headed out for a walk at first light and glanced into my neighbour’s yard. There was a doe seated very comfortably, dozing—right in the middle of the green lawn.

And the morning before, I’d nearly walked right into one on the side of the road before I realized she was there. She was unperturbed by my presence and just turned into a neighbour’s yard.

In none of these instances were the deer spooked by the appearance or the voices of humans.

That’s in sharp contrast to the behaviour of deer you spot when you’re out in the woods hiking along a path or trail. The quick flick of a tail is usually all you see of those ones as they hightail it in the opposite direction to where you’re heading, usually into thick cover.

And, the two are like different animals: one is wild and easily startled by any small sound you make and the other has become habituated to humans and is at home in human neighbourhoods.

It’s when wildlife stops being wild that human conflicts begin occurring.

A couple of months ago does with very young fawns were acting very aggressively in a number of parts of this region, charging people and beating up dogs, but on the whole, the biggest complaint about deer is the feasting they do on people’s gardens.

Contrary to most years, this year I haven’t been seeing many deer in my garden, though I have seen both does with twin fawns and single does in gardens around mine, so I’m wondering whether the deer repellent I’m trying is actually working.

Bobbex Deer Repellant is apparently an all-natural tropical plant repellent that will not wash off in the next rain or irrigation cycle.

At the urging of the manufacturer I agreed to try it out and see if it made any difference to the agonizing losses I’ve sustained over the years to my optimistically-planted flowers and vegetables.

I must admit it smells pretty foul when you first spray it on, but after a day or two my sniffer is not sensitive enough to be bothered by it.

I used it on plants that have traditionally been very attractive to my neighbourhood deer, and they do seem to be doing much better this summer than usual. In particular, I used it at their normal entry points to my yard and I simply haven’t seen them in the yard nearly as much as usual.

It’s available at Ace Hardware in Peachland, Westwind and Byland’s in West Kelowna, Art Knapp, the Greenery and Elysium in Kelowna.

Now if I could only catch whatever’s eaten every last one of my kale plants!

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News



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