Naturally Speaking: Whitetail deer and you, part 2

Editor’s note: WELCOME TO NATURALLY SPEAKING WITH JOE DEREK. This is part two of naturalist Joe Derek’s answers to reader questions about the Farmington area deer population. You can read part 1 here: NATURALLY SPEAKING: WHITETAIL DEER AND YOU, PART 1.

I read a feature in a publication sent to our home about deer in Farmington Hills. It has a lot of misinformation in it.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

Here is some of the baloney the story contained:

  • Deer are eating the vegetation that is crucial for the butterflies. Not true. I grow a lot of plants for butterflies. Deer have only occasionally eaten some leaves. I see deer almost daily, and I have plenty of butterflies.
  • Deer do not browse on all ground cover. In a mature forest, because of the deep shade, not many varieties of plants grow. Deer, however, are an edge animal, meaning that they spend most of their time out in the fields, meadows and thickets, rather than in deep woods where there isn’t that much of their preferred food. If they did clear cut all areas as the article suggested, there would not be any fields, meadows, thickets, etc. left in parks like Heritage. Where did this info come from?
Farmington Hills Deer
(Joe Derek)
  • The story states that small squirrels, chipmunks, and possum are attacked by coyotes because the ground cover is gone and they have no place to hide. Chipmunks live somewhere underground, squirrels live in trees, and possums live in brush piles, hollow logs, or your garage if you keep the door open.
  • Coyotes do not attack animals. They are just looking for dinner. They cannot go to the drive up like you do and get a happy meal. They have to chase and kill it. But then someone killed some of the food you get at the supermarket.
  • Deer are not changing the ecosystem or the biosphere. People have already ruined that in many parts of our country. Besides, deer are part of the biosphere and have been for thousands of years long before Farmington Hills was paved over for people.
  • People help ruin the ecosystem in our parks. The deer, however, do eat some of the vegetation they prefer.
Farmington Hills Deer
(Joe Derek)
  • I and a few concerned park staffers caught people cutting bouquets of wildflowers and taking things out of the parks on almost a daily basis. People walking off trails, dogs in the park, people creating their own trails from their subdivisions, illegal fires in the park, drugs, drinking, etc. I witnessed all of this.
  • Coyote will take a fawn and sometimes an adult deer. That’s nature. Predators help balance the natural world.
  • I have a creek running through our property. It is always full of plastic bags. I do not think the deer shop.
  • People speed, tailgate, and disobey traffic rules in Farmington Hills every day. Animals are just trying to get across a road that we made.
  • Yes, deer have eaten my plants, but they do not litter our property and roadside ditches with the small plastic liquor bottles from the local party store. This occurs every week. We do not have the right to manage nature. We have done one horrible job of managing ourselves.

Stay tuned. I am sure there will be more to discuss on deer in the future.

Reported by