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Too Many Deer: Consequences

Fawn eating kiwi leaves

Fawn eating kiwi leaves

The three pregnant does we’ve seen this season produced two pairs of twins and one set of triplets. That’s just for the does crossing our yard; we’ve seen many others around the area. The fawns are, of course, insufferably cute, but the deer have eaten everything growing on the forest floor, eaten all the tree leaves within reach, and are now working on vegetation that deer don’t normally eat.

Such as, for example, Mary’s long-suffering kiwi plants by the garden and various distasteful flowers in front of the house.

One doe maimed her starboard foreleg in an automobile collision; she was hobbling around for about a week before vanishing. Fawns, who don’t come out of the oven knowing that automobiles make fearsome predators, tend to die young; three of the seven have died on the road within walking distance of the house in the last two months.

Dead fawn at Deer Crossing sign

Dead fawn at Deer Crossing sign

We recently heard a sharp bang! bang!  out front, shortly followed by a police car accelerating along the road. It turns out the officer dispatched this fawn with two shots below the left ear; I think they carry a special .22 caliber gun for this very purpose. No, the fawn wasn’t standing around waiting to be shot; it had just starred in Yet Another car-on-deer collision.

This, according to the local deer huggers, is a much more desirable outcome than harvesting surplus deer and eating them. I haven’t noticed any deer huggers volunteering to pay for damages; that seems to be an externality to them.

A billboard up the road demonstrates their total lack of comprehension: a pastoral scene showing a buck (with a full rack) nuzzling a fawn. Pop quiz: who wrote that book? Bonus: how much interest do actual bucks display in their offspring at any time?

A previous rant on this subject is there.

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  1. #1 by William on 2011-09-10 - 09:27

    In Missouri we can hunt the deer and we still have too many. I have personally accounted for 2 of the critters dead on the highway resulting in minor car damage. My wife hit a deer which spun around and crumpled the rear driver side door after knocking a headlight and some trim off the front. They can be a real menace on the road.

    • #2 by Ed on 2011-09-10 - 10:35

      In Missouri we can hunt the deer

      This area is too built up for hunting: the rule is 500 feet from an inhabited structure, which rules out nearly all residential areas. Vassar College runs a 600 acre ecological station up the road with plenty of room, but when they hired a professional firm to cull 70-ish deer (to save the rest of the preserve’s flora & fauna) a while back, well, all the deer huggers went berserk…

      They can be a real menace on the road.

      Speaking strictly as a cyclist, I’d rather not have to worry about drivers having to decide between a deer and me. That’s a situation that actually occurs about once a year in broad daylight, despite deer supposedly being crepescular critters.

      • #3 by smellsofbikes on 2011-09-12 - 12:06

        >Speaking strictly as a cyclist, I’d rather not have to worry about drivers having to decide between a deer and me.

        I’ve been there and hoo boy is that an uncomfortable situation. I thought about riding at the deer on the assumption that the cars in question then only had one general thing to avoid, rather than a decision to make (but then the deer spooks and runs and we’re back to the same situation only with a moving deer.)

        • #4 by Ed on 2011-09-12 - 17:16

          riding at the deer

          I got to within 15 feet of a doe in the back yard before she decided that was close enough. Bicycles get even less attention; we’ve nearly run ’em down in the driveway before they saunter off.

          They generally pause and look both ways (easy to do with an eye on each side of their skull) before crossing the road. At least the survivors do that …

  2. #5 by peter on 2011-09-11 - 12:06

    There’s another reason I’m not a fan of too many deer: ticks. There’s a strong correlation between deer population and tick population. Over here, about 80% (no typo) of ticks are infected with Lyme’s disease or half a dozen of similar equally nasty infectious diseases. After spending 2 hours in the woods last summer picking blackberries I got one. Or rather: it got me. Two weeks of preventive antibiotics (they don’t even test anymore – the risk of Lyme etc. is just too great) and staying out of the sun. That took about 1000 km off my July riding. And still having to be attentive till about christmas to any (vague) symptoms that may pop up.

    But to shoot Bambi’s mom?! The outcry would be huge. And I must admit the critters look cute. But after having nearly ended up with free deer meat on my car’s front hood (note, this was *inside* a village) that left me and my brother shaking in my then-new car, and another close encounter later, I’d like deer much more if they minded their own business, instead of standing in the middle of roads staring into headlights, or standing by the side of the road waiting for just the right moment to jump in front of the car.

    Oh, and we can’t shoot deer here. Guns are dangerous, after all.

    I blame Disney.

    • #6 by Ed on 2011-09-11 - 13:16

      deer population and tick population

      The primary host here may be mice, though, which is just another reason for zero-tolerance snap trapping… and washing one’s hands after carrying the corpse out for recycling.

      The incidence of ehrlichiosis is rising, too; it’s like Lyme disease, only sometimes much worse.

      My esteemed wife has gone through three separate antibiotic courses over the years for Lyme disease: she wants deer ticks extinct, too.

  3. #7 by smellsofbikes on 2011-09-12 - 12:04

    The deer thing is in part a quirk of how our brains do ethics: we assign blame on positive actions but not on negative ones. If you push someone in front of a train you’re a murderer, but if you don’t pull someone off the train tracks when you’re capable of doing so, you’re not a murderer. So goes the thinking on deer: not hunting them and letting them die by being hit by cars is the same case as not pulling someone off the tracks. The logic is consistent with how our brains process ethics, even if the outcome is ridiculous and counterproductive.

  4. #8 by peter on 2011-10-11 - 12:05

    This one is making its rounds on the internet; you may have seen it before.

    Bambi’s South-African low-flying cousin takes out a mountain biker. Think I’ll treat the local deer with a little more respect and suspicion when I’m riding my bike….

    • #9 by Ed on 2011-10-11 - 12:54

      treat the local deer with a little more respect

      OW!

      And here I get nervous when squirrels & chipmunks dart across the rail trail; that critter had murder on its mind! Good thing the next reflex is to run away, not stomp the victim into the veldt.