Cities and towns have many natural areas that support white-tailed deer. Urban deer populations benefit from abundant food and shelter. They have few natural predators and bylaws prohibit hunting them within city limits. As a result, urban deer populations have tremendous growth potential.
Deer sometimes damage gardens, shrubs, fruit trees and other public or private property. They can be a threat to human health and safety when they wander onto roadways and collide with vehicles. They can also carry deer ticks, which may transmit Lyme disease to humans.
The challenge is to find an acceptable balance between the number of deer in the city and the associated risk to people and their property.
To minimize or reduce the damage caused by deer to your property, you may want to consider using one or more of the following techniques:
It is extremely important that people do not feed deer. Deer can find natural food sources and survive well on their own. In fact, handouts from humans may do the deer more harm than good:
Natural Resource Officers have authority under The Manitoba Wildlife Act to order people to stop feeding deer if it creates a risk of property damage or a risk to health and safety for wildlife or people.
Fencing yards, vegetable gardens and flowerbeds, or wrapping individual plants and shrubs, are the best methods to prevent deer damage. There are many effective fencing materials including snow fencing, plastic bird netting, burlap or wire mesh (chicken wire) and permanent woven-wire or wood fencing with gates that can provide protection from deer.
Repellents help prevent deer from feeding on vegetables, flowers, ornamental shrubs and trees. A wide variety of repellents are available, in two different categories:
The effectiveness of commercial or homemade repellents depends on the number of deer, their feeding habits and weather conditions. Contact repellents are more effective than area repellents. Most repellents must be reapplied on a regular basis to be effective. Property owners should still expect some damage, even when repellents are used.
Deer are selective feeders that prefer some plants to others. To minimize damage to vegetable gardens, ornamental plants, shrubs and trees, try gardening with plants that deer usually avoid. Some of these include:
The use of motion-activated devices (ie; lights, sprinklers, barking dogs) and scarecrows may be effective. Other electronic devices such as radios are also effective, but deer quickly become habituated to the noise or action and their effectiveness is short-lived. To prevent habituation and prolong the scaring effect, devices must be regularly moved around the property. Some scaring devices may not be practical in residential areas. Check with your municipal office for by-laws regarding the use of noise making devices in your area.
There are currently about 300 hundred deer-vehicle collisions on Winnipeg streets each year. These collisions are the major cause of deer mortality in the city. Vehicle damage can be costly and injury to occupants is possible. Wildlife collisions can even cause severe traffic accidents involving more than one vehicle. The frequency of deer-vehicle collisions relates directly to the size of the city’s deer population.
Tips: Most collisions occur between dusk and dawn. Deer also become more active during their breeding season in October through late November. To avoid collisions: