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Pellets, home remedies, specific plants may not stop hungry deer

As shadows lengthen in the late afternoon, deer leave the shelter of the woods in search of food. They inspect your trees, shrubs and flowers as if they were a buffet table. Nibbling pansies for an appetizer, they progress to azaleas for the main entree. Then it's on to the daylilies for dessert.

All across America, this scene is repeated in countless locations where native areas are being replaced by managed grounds. Nuisance deer are difficult to control in residential communities. There are a number of commercially available repellents on the market, but they tend to wash off with rain and must be re-applied frequently to be effective. Unreliable results have also been obtained from other so-called "home remedy" repellents such as soap, human hair and animal dung. Shooting is often prohibited, and many citizens are opposed to this method of control. Fencing whole communities or individual properties is often not practical.

Planting ornamental plants that deer do not like to eat can help reduce deer browsing. Please remember, though, that very few plants are totally deer-resistant.

When deer populations are high and food becomes scarce, deer are more likely to feed on ornamental plants. Deer prefer tender new foliage on newly-planted ornamentals and those fertilized to produce lush new growth.

During dry weather, deer are attracted to irrigated plants. Buck deer may also cause considerable damage to young trees by rubbing them with their antlers. Repellents will not stop antler rubbing.

For a list of deer resistant plants, contact the County Extension Office at 595-1815.

But remember, under high deer pressure and low food supply, nothing is deer proof.

Web posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007

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