Protecting Landscapes From Wildlife This Summer
Homeowners see an increase in wildlife on lawns and gardens this season...and it's due to spring breeding season.
Double Trouble With Deer
One of the most beautiful discoveries of summertime is witnessing the first steps of a baby deer; and while fawns are adorable, with their big brown eyes and white spots, home growers know that deer are destructive in gardens; and the garden damage has now doubled.
Fawns and mother does stay close for at least one year and will require lots of space to feed and sleep. While doe are out searching for food, they will leave behind their young in a hidden spot away from predatory animals and homeowners. We would like to think that deer move in the morning hours; however, they choose to wait until the weather cools down, and they are unseen by predators (animals and people alike) to scavenge for food. And, where will deer travel in the afternoon and evening hours to find food? Home gardens.
Deer welcome the invite from gardeners to eat in their organic garden. Gardeners feeding deer in summer are most likely feeding them a variety of nuts including acorns and chestnuts as well as corn ("deer corn") and soybeans. Other foods that attract deer include red clover, orchard grass, peas and kale. They also enjoy fruit from gardens, including grapes and berries as well as flowers like hostas and lilies. Growers that do not want to feed deer in summer will need to block attempts from deer to reach their landscape with fence and other types of deer deterrence methods.
Coyotes and Foxes
But, deer aren't the only concerning wildlife this season. Because coyote and fox breeding season happened in January, homeowners will start to see coyote pups and kits (baby foxes) walking alongside their mothers in search of foods. The children "pack" will stay close to their mothers until October and November when they become "teenagers" and go off to fend for themselves and their own food - preferably mice, squirrels, birds, and the occasional cat. Generally speaking, these animals will avoid human interaction and dog attacks; but, they will if they feel threatened.
Rabbit mating season runs from March-September; and rabbits can deliver between four to five bunnies at once. While bunnies are cute, they remain the second most destructive form of wildlife in gardens after white-tailed deer.
After week three of birth, bunnies leave the nest to take care of themselves.
In case deer, coyotes, rabbits and foxes weren't enough of a concern for home gardeners and pet owners, we can't forget forget about bear activity. Bears awoke from winter hibernation in February and March; and they continue to visit apiaries for honey, fruit gardens and flowerbeds to gather food. In the late summer season, bears will enter hyperphagia, a period of 2-4 months when they intensify their calorie intake to put on weight for winter denning.
Wildlife Management Strategies
90 percent of growers complain about deer damage in gardens; and while they are majestic animals that need to eat, it doesn't have to be from our gardens. To rid deer from gardens, gardeners will need to install a 7.5-8' foot high deer fence with deer-resistant plants surrounding the perimeter. Having a deer fence, with flowers for deer-resistance, will not only re-route deer, but will teach them not to move about your property.
For rabbit-resistance in gardens, gardeners will need to install a 2-3 foot high hexagonal fence with PVC coating. While bunnies do hop, the main concern is burrowing. Growers should trench a metal fence in the ground about 6-12 inches to block digging attempts from rabbits. Having PVC on the fence will prevent chew marks from damaging the steel core material, too.
Coyotes, wolves and foxes can jump high - up to five feet; and they are chewers. For this reason, it's best to choose a metal fence that is at least six feet high protected with PVC. This type of fence is often used by chicken owners to protect their flock from the pack.
For bear deterrence, choose electric fencing. The zap from electric netting will deter bears from approaching growing sites and is the most recommended type of fence to rid bears from gardens.
In addition to the above wildlife control methods, gardeners will need to apply tick sprays to yards to reduce the spread of ticks coming off deer. Ticks spread tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme Disease, to adults, children and pets. It's best to avoid deer with these low-maintenance garden solutions.