Living with Deer

The population of white-tailed deer in the Ottawa Valley is exploding. The Bambi complex that has led the new City of Ottawa to ban all hunting within its entire 64 km by 86 km area, outdated provincial hunting regulations designed to maximise the population of deer rather than to control it, and the elimination of natural deer predators have led to major problems for any farmers growing crops that deer will eat. Especially, tree farmers.

Here is the most cost-effective defense of a tree farm that we know of. The photos are by Len Collett of Lanark Highlands.

Picturesque 150-year-old cedar fences just don't work! Deer routinely jump 6' fences, and in a pinch can clear 8'. Chain link is impossibly expensive. But, horizontal 1"x2" boards spaced 1' apart to a height of 8' are affordable if you have access to a local small-scale sawmill and tree culls too small to interest commercial operations. The open construction allows wind and snow to blow through, so it does not need to be as strong as a solid fence.

Of course, all entrances to the property must be guarded, including front gates no matter how exposed.

Inside the slat fence, backup is required. 1" Chicken wire works well for hedges.

For trees, begin with a circle of good farm fence, strong enough to withstand the force of bucks cleaning their antlers. A stake or two helps to keep it upright and clear of the tree.

Then, add a layer of 1" chickenwire above the fence, to keep teeth away from the leader and branches.

It's too expensive and time-consuming for most farm operations, but for the grower of high-value nut trees, it seems the only way to go in deer country. At least, until we come to our senses and allow the use of excess deer as high quality food for people, or promote the restoration of natural deer predators such as wolf and cougar.

Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.