My friend Judy Loose of NoVA Deer Shield pointed out on her company Facebook page today that white-tailed deer will be giving birth to fawns over the next few weeks. According to Judy, whose company offers protection of landscape plants against deer damage, lactating does need to increase their caloric intake by 50%. Hungry momma deer mean more browsing on landscape plants and a greater need for the protection of NoVA Deer Shield.
It also means those does will have to move around to find that food and that Northern Virginia drivers need to be alert. Every year I get a late May-June increase in calls for dead deer removal, with the majority of those deaths resulting from vehicle crashes. I always figured the spike in deer crashes had something to do with fawns, but I wasn’t sure exactly what caused it. Judy’s information on does’ increased need for calories this time of year makes sense as an explanation.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service is seeking comments on its Deer Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for C&O Canal and Harpers Ferry National Historical Parks. The plan and EA is a 246-page document rich with information on the parks and on managing white-tailed deer. The plan outlines various alternatives for managing deer in the parks and contains information on deer management strategies employed in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. I've only had time to read about 25 pages of it so far, but here's something that jumped out at me on Page 21. Maryland's 2009-2018 White-tailed Deer Management Plan states:
"No other management strategy for managing deer populations is as effective or as economical as deer hunting, and hunting is necessary to keep deer populations from growing beyond their biological carrying capacity."
Of course, we all know it's not hunting season now, so non-lethal methods of controlling deer are the best options. These can include changing landscape plant and crop selections, exclusion of deer using fences or other enclosures and using repellents. There are lots of these available at retail outlets, and some are more effective than others. Just like with any pesticide or herbicide, when it comes to treating your plants with deer repellents, I recommend consulting a licensed professional like Judy Loose of NoVa Deer Shield.
For more information on managing your local white-tailed deer herd, please visit my new website at emgprofessional.com and feel free to call me at (703)431-0182 with your questions about deer or other local natural resources.