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Possibly questionable - controlling deer

 
Posts: 377
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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It was suggested I run this under Tinkering.

I suppose the gold standard for controlling deer in their various forms is a really good, really tall fence.  Those kind of fences cost more gold than I have.

Where I can put up fence, I am inclined to go the multiple fence route, where the other fences are probably going to be jackleg (if I have enough trees of the right size to use).

People have talked about various non-fence ideas, such as growing things deer will eat on the edge of the property, growing deer tolerable food on the outside border and human good on the inside, and so on. As near as I can tell, the deer eventually find out the good stuff is on the inside, and go there for lunch.

A hunter was suggesting that it isn't necessarily the quality of the fence, but whether it is in the right place.  Possibly even without gates.

But on the subject of deer eating stuff.  There are big lists of things which are supposedly deer resistant.  Some things are deer resistant because they are sticky, some because they are sharp, some because of disagreeable texture and so on.  Among the things on these lits, are things that are toxic.

Again, lots of different kinds of toxins: saponins, cyanogenic glycosides, and so on.  In general, deer don't die from eating toxic plants, because they don't eat much of it, they do eat a lot of cellulose (onto which many poisons will adsorb on the surface) and they do eat clay (onto which many poisons will adsorb on the surface).

These is one toxin which is known to kill deer, and that is the European or Japanese yew trees (cardiac poison).  Can kill them before they even get around to swallowing that first mouthful.  I believe a bunch of elk in Idaho was in the news not too long ago.

But, going through the lists, the one that seems interesting to me, is that there are a number of neurotoxins, which deer might actually get addicted to.  So, instead of trying to control a deer, you are trying to control an addict.

Have people looked at this?  Is the idea considered evil?  Are there problems with it?
 
Posts: 7008
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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My first thought is it seems like a cider press topic...maybe in ethics?
 
pollinator
Posts: 376
Location: San Diego, California
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The "best" way to manage deer, in my opinion, is to eat them...which would probably be easier than trying to manage an addict.

I haven't figured out a way to manage my addict relatives, and I've been at it for 15 years!
 
Posts: 125
Location: Qld, Australia. Zone 9a-10
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My first thought was also eating them, is there any reason for not doing this? Getting a dog is another option. I doubt having a few toxic plants around will deter them from an area (we have lots of toxic plants and deer just ignore them) and poisoning them is a waste even if it did work, not to mention possible ethical issues.  
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 377
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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As near as I can tell, (I haven't studied the regulations), it is very difficult to get permission to kill "deer" out of season here.  And the "deer" know when hunting season is open, they aren't around.

So eating them isn't an option.

I don't have any long distance weapons, I have been thinking about a recurve bow.  I don't know if the conservation officer would like me shooting an arrow at a "deer" with a "blob" for an arrowhead, just intended to bruise.

---

I am not looking at toxic plants in general.  My thinking is just to use the "toxic" plants which are known to be addictive.  Every deer will at some point sample them.  If they come by that plant two weeks later, will they sample the tree again?  I am thinking if they sample the plant 3 times, they are started up the addiction curve.

If the deer in question is a male, I don't think there is much which  comes out of this.

If the deer in question is female, when it becomes pregnant and then has babies, it will teach those babies about foods.  Including the addictive toxin foods.  And if any of those babies are female, ....  

It would be interesting if male deer addicted to a neurotoxin  tended to  browse in different places than females.
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 377
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Addendum.

I am NOT trying to control deer by poisoning them.  Plants that seem to be deer resistant often have toxins in them.  Deer seldom eat enough of any of those plants to suffer poisoning.    This is partially deer habit in browsing, and deer eating things like wood and clay.

 
gardener
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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The only thing i can offer besides fencing (doesn't have to be tuff, just tall) is sepps bone sauce. I haven't tried it so cannot confirm its effectiveness.
 
pollinator
Posts: 229
Location: ALASKA
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I have had to deal with an overabundance of whitetails and now living in AK I have to deal with moose raiding the garden.  You couldn't shoot enough of them to do any good.  When I dealt with the whitetails I lived in GA and we had a good population of them in my area.  Many got shot each hunting season, I killed my fair share as well.  Love to eat them, wouldn't dare think of wasting that meat.  All that said to say the best and most effective deterrent to deer in your garden will be the electric fence.  About 7 or 8 feet tall. Preferably with an outward lean to it so as to confuse their depth perception.  I currently have a 6 foot fence around my garden and so far it seems to work well on the local moose as long as I remember to turn it on when I leave the garden in the evening......
 
Chris Wang
Posts: 125
Location: Qld, Australia. Zone 9a-10
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Gordon Haverland wrote:Addendum.

I am NOT trying to control deer by poisoning them.  Plants that seem to be deer resistant often have toxins in them.  Deer seldom eat enough of any of those plants to suffer poisoning.    This is partially deer habit in browsing, and deer eating things like wood and clay.



Are you thinking of a living fence type thing? I think that would be worth a shot. What size is the area you are trying to protect? While deer are not the most abundant 'pest' I have found fencing smaller areas with less than perfect fences (as in they could be crossed fairly easy with motivation) does work well. There is also the option of caging individual valuable trees.
 
gardener
Posts: 2203
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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I've lived in deer / elk / moose country all my life.   If the elk or moose really want in, then they are going in.  Deer on the other hand can be controlled with a cheap double fence. Inner one taller than the outer. Maybe 2-3' between. Lots of flagging tied around so things ae moving in their peripheral vision. (Keeps them nervous) They can get over the first but most can't jump the second.

Poisoning deer with natural plants is not going to happen. Animals are much smarter than humans they are not going to eat enough to hurt them selves.
Dogs that merely run them out of your yard , (not chase them down for sport) are a wonderful easy way for you to keep control.

Eating them tastes wonderful … but sitting in jail for shooting out of season would put a crimp on gardening.
 
gardener
Posts: 2391
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I think the OP is trying to gt them hooked on plants as a way to divert them from the garden.
I doubt they would feed exclusively on such plants, so it might not be worthwhile.


Here , farmers can get a nuisance licence to shoot deer out of season, in order to protect their crops.
I've known a few farmers that use this to keep their freezers full.
It seems likely that  a nuisance licence isn't an option in the OP's  part of Canada.




 
Posts: 207
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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Fence and/or dog is likely your best bets.  Or plant a food plot specifically for them so they leave your garden alone, though getting them to preferentially eat there may be hard to accomplish.

If you get a dog for this purpose (or, really any purpose) make sure you can keep it on your property.  Some people take a dim view to dogs chasing deer.  My neighbor being one of them.  He'd shoot the dog, never mind that would be illegal where I'm located.
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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While it doesn't have a full year under its belt, my quite cheap deer fence is working so far:  Creative fence idea
 
master steward
Posts: 2646
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I live with deer.  I feel they are smart enough to know what they can eat of the things that grow where they live.

If you introduce something new they will taste it.  In my Monarch Garden I plant things they don't like.  They tasted the iris and the garlic chives then spit them out.  Since these plants were newly planted, the deer pulled them up as that is the way they eat.

Now that the plants are established, they have found that they are very fond of the garlic chives.

Poisonous plants may give off an odor that tells them they don't want to eat that particular plants. I don't know.

There are cheap ways to keep deer out depending on the amount of work a person wants to put in.  I have seen pictures here on permies of really nice looking string fences.  Also a debris fence can be made to keep them out.
 
Posts: 78
Location: Columbia Missouri
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Around here we have whitetail deer.  When you scare them, they run off with their tails in the air.  That raised tail is an alarm signal that the other deer recognise.  Some white flags the same size and shape as a deer tail will repel the whitetails.  Are yours Sitkas?

 
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