are becoming much more common around home landscapes as their natural
habitat continues to disappear. To the chagrin of many homeowners,
deer are quite comfortable wandering about their landscape browsing on
foundation plantings, flowers and vegetable gardens. Some deer control
methods seem to work temporarily but then begin to fail.
homeowners enjoy entertaining deer in their yards with salt blocks and
food, even going so far as to
attract them with dried cracked corn which is sold at most feed stores.
the deer problem are difficult and varied, in fact some residents don't consider
deer to be a problem at all. Arguments in favor of preserving the deer
population focus on their natural beauty, a right to share the land with
people and an aversion to deer hunting.
deer control are concerned about damage to their ornamental and garden
plants, the injury and property risks involved with hitting deer on highways and the
argument that overabundant deer populations will lead to their starvation in the
winter due to a lack of adequate plants for deer browse.
These Arborvitae were
damaged by deer browsing on the lower parts
Hear from some deer experts in this video:
Deer & Deer Management
in Developed Areas
- Facts & Fiction -
Pa. Game Commission
In a healthy population, female deer can
breed as fawns (6-7 months of age) producing young at 1
year of age. Average pregnancy rate of doe fawns in
developed areas is 40%.
Healthy adult does most often produce 2
Removing deer from a healthy population
will NOT increase reproductive rates of the remaining
deer. Deer in Pennsylvania breed once a year. Average
reproductive rate for adult does in developed areas in
Pennsylvania is 1.8 fawns/adult doe with 15% producing 1
fawn, 79% producing twins, and 6% producing triplets.
Reproduction in females is already close to maximum.
Deer can live up to 18 years of age.
Deer populations can double in size every
Deer eat about 5-10 pounds of food daily.
Deer home ranges are relatively small in
urban areas (100-300 acres).
Current birth control practices are
costly and ineffective in controlling free-ranging deer
populations over a large area.
Hunters can assist landowners at no cost.
Landowners can impose additional hunting
restrictions on their property.
Homeowners can waive the 50-yard archery
or 150-yard firearm safety zone.
Hunting does not increase deer-vehicle
accidents. During fall, deer naturally move more due to
increased activity associated with breeding season.
Investigations have shown deer-vehicle accidents occur
more frequently on Sundays when no hunting is allowed
than on Saturday (high hunter participation day) and 1-4
hours after dark which is after hunting hours.
Landowners who allow the use of their
property without a fee are protected from liability.
Typically, the removal of 1 adult doe
during the hunting season equates to 3 less deer the
All deer management programs require
EXTENSIVE DCNR STUDY OF FOREST VEGETATION SHOWS DEER EXACTING HEAVY TOLL
IN MOST AREAS
Monitoring Uncovers Troubling Data in Pennsylvania State Woodlands
March 22, 2007
State of Pennsylvania
— Preliminary findings from ongoing, extensive state forest studies of
the effect of white-tailed deer populations on woodland regeneration
show habitat damage is the heaviest in the north central and Pocono
Mountains areas of the state, Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said today.
our past surveys from the air, this unprecedented study on the ground of
what deer eat, or browse, is proving to be an invaluable tool in
understanding deer densities and distribution in our state forestlands,
and it is guiding future DCNR efforts to ensure forest regeneration and
healthy habitat,” said DiBerardinis.
like those aerial counts, these browse-study findings are just a single
snap-shot in time, incapable of documenting whether forest habitat
health is improving or declining. They will, however, provide a
meaningful baseline to compare in future trend analyses.”
browse studies, which were conducted last year and covered almost 90
percent of the state forest system, showed findings the secretary deemed
“Across the entire state forest system, less than 25 percent of the
41,650 plots showed desirable regeneration, and almost 45 percent of the
plots lacked any new, woody growth,” DiBerardinis said. “The problem is
more acute in the state’s north central ‘big woods’ section where almost
50 percent of the study plots show no woody regeneration and only about
20 percent desirable regeneration. The most severely browsed habitats
were documented in the north central and Pocono regions of the state.
these reasons, it would be premature to draw any conclusions that would
support an increased deer herd, even in areas where we observed
relatively low-browse damage,” DiBerardinis said.
secretary applauded the commitment of Bureau of Forestry personnel from
19 of the state’s 20 state forest districts who undertook the browse
studies during early spring in 2006.
“Never has there been an undertaking of this magnitude in which data
from 1,600 miles of transects was entered into the bureau database for
analysis,” said DiBerardinis. “These researchers are foresters first,
but they also are hunters and naturalists and all are dedicated to
restoring forests to a healthy level where deer and other wildlife have
sufficient food and cover.”
will use this detailed vegetation analysis in conjunction with past
aerial surveys to help guide our management decisions and adjust our
efforts to steer hunters to certain state forest areas in the 2007-2008
hunting season,” DiBerardinis said.
Transects, which are lines for ecological measurements, were spaced two
miles apart. They were sampled by visiting vegetative plots every 200
feet, recording woody species, and assigning a browsing category to that
species at that plot. Also, presence or absence data was recorded for
“desirable” and “undesirable” woody vegetation at every plot.
plants include trees, shrubs and vines. Woody plants dominate the
vegetation wherever conditions are favorable for plant growth. Deer
feed on the leaves, twigs and buds of these plants.
survey findings include:
aided in development of a preliminary deer-browsing preference index
for woody species observed, which will help guide future monitoring
efforts and provide browse intensity indicators;
Across the state,
the proportion of plots with desirable regeneration (24.45 percent)
and lack of woody regeneration (44.45 percent) indicate browsing has
not been suppressed long enough for a widespread regeneration
browsing impact from lowest to most severe, the Forest Districts
ranked as follows: relatively lightly browsed with better
regeneration — Lackawanna, Buchanan, Michaux, Tiadaghton, Tuscarora,
Gallitzin, and Cornplanter; relatively moderately browsed with less
regeneration — Moshannon, Susquehannock, Rothrock, Forbes, Bald
Eagle, and Tioga; relatively severely browsed with poor regeneration
— Weiser, Kittanning, Wyoming, Sproul, Delaware and Elk;
continue to locate other areas of continued excessive browsing where
deer harvests should be increased, and these efforts will be
coordinated in the State Forest Management Plan.
Details on the 2006 state forest deer browse study, as well as DCNR’s
aerial surveys and other information on deer, can be found online at
www.dcnr.state.pa.us and select
Bucks mark their territory by rubbing tree trunks with their
foreheads and antlers to apply a scent from glands in their foreheads,
causing extensive damage to tree trunks.
were 2,079 reportable vehicle-deer collisions in Pennsylvania (crashes
that result in bodily injury or major vehicle damage) during 1991,
compared to 2,532 in 2001. This is an increase of 21% over that ten year
people were killed in these accidents during 2002, which is triple the
number of deaths from the late 1990's.
Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates 45,000 to 60,000 dead deer are
removed from state highways annually.
Deer Harvest - W. Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Game Commission
& Washington County
Allegheny County Harvest
Statistics Source: PA Game Commission
Washington County Harvest
Statistics Source: PA Game Commission
Clair planners have discovered one of the few places deer will leave
tulips alone - a traffic island!
stands on the deer issue, gardeners these days must be VERY conscious of
potential deer damage if they hope to have much success at all with
their gardening activities. There are basically three strategies:
Through the use of fencing or mesh, keeping the deer away from
plants. Effective deer fencing needs to be 6 to 10 feet high,
depending on the exact location. There are also some plastic meshes
available to drape over top of desirable plantings. Some of
the newer meshes and fences are difficult to see, adding to their
desirability as a viable alternative.
mesh can be draped over
plants to prevent deer browsing
- There are several commercial products
and "home brews" that can be sprayed on plants to
discourage deer browsing. The main disadvantage is that
sprays need to be reapplied on a regular basis, and even more
frequently during wet weather.
Deer stay away from Boxwood!
- Deer have "food favorites"
just like us. Lists are usually broken down into
categories of desirability. However, it's important to
remember that deer will eat ANY PLANT during a severe winter when
other browse is scarce. Listed below are some of the most
commonly known plants:
Arborvitae, Daylilies, Euonymus,
Hosta, Tulips, Yews
Rabbits WILL browse on some plants which deer leave alone.
When protecting a plant from rabbits in the winter, be sure to allow
for "added reach" due to snow depth acting as
"elevator shoes" for the rabbits.
Deer question from
Q. I have a privacy row
of hemlocks that the deer have browsed up to about seven feet - which
means they no longer provide as much privacy! Can you recommend an
evergreen shrub that would fill in the bare area AND not provide the
deer with more delicious meals? The shrubs would be planted close to,
but not directly under the hemlocks, and the area will be quite shady.
do have a challenging situation, because broadleaf evergreens that
tolerate shade such as rhododendron and mountain-laurel tend to be
favored by deer, while most needled evergreens prefer more sun. Hemlocks
are one of the most shade-tolerant needled evergreens, but a little too
tasty for Bambi. The only plant that really comes to mind in your
situation is Japanese plum yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonii. It
tolerates shade, and is considered to be quite deer resistant.
It is not a well-known plant in our area, but that is changing because
it is such a tough, durable plant and because it seems to be very deer
resistant. It will be a little hard to come by, although your local
nursery may be able to order them for you. The only other drawback is
that they are slow growing and will not fill the gap in your privacy
hedge as quickly as you might wish. The straight species grows five to
ten feet tall with a similar or slightly greater spread. They can be
sheared into a formal hedge or allowed to grow naturally; whichever
suits your landscape best.