Naturally Speaking: Whitetail deer and you, part 3


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Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

Dear Readers,

Regarding the deer article I read on Sept. 8 in the other paper, I gave an opinion in Part 2. The article, in general, was fine, as were many of the comments on considering what, if anything, to do about deer. The comments with ridiculous info, I gave an opinion on. Any city will have a tough time with this issue on deer.

As a naturalist, I do not think there is a solution to make the complainers happy. Education of the public, along with fencing and deterrents, should be tried first. The deer article stated that on February 12, 2020, the deer population in our city was 729. Part of a draft from August 9 report said that based on aerial counts, we have up to 80 deer per square mile. I did some math. Our city is 33.31 square miles times 80 deer is a little over 2,640 deer. Who’s correct?

Naturally Speaking Farmington Hills Deer
(Joe Derek)

The info I was given about the sterilization of deer in Ann Arbor was inhumane and disgusting. I was told they were cut open, the ovaries removed, sewn up, and then turned loose. If this is true, I would assume some them would get infections and die. The public is usually not privy to what occurred. Something like this, along with live trapping and moving other wildlife, is just another feel good moment for the public. The truth of what occurs many times is concealed.

We all remember the issues concerning Canada geese. No perfect answer. By the way, before I retired, I was a member of the Canada Goose Committee for our state.

One more comment on deer “clear cutting” vegetation. Deer are browsers like elk and moose. They eat near the ground, at eye level or above within their reach. Yes, if they find your cherished flowers, they may eat the buds, flowers and leaves. Generally, they slowly move along as they eat. Sheep and goats eat everything to the ground, not deer.

Naturally Speaking Farmington Hills Deer
(Joe Derek)

Other states have moose and elk car collisions. From what I have seen, they do their best to educate drivers. I do understand that these states are not as overpopulated as many parts of Michigan.

Too many people driving too fast are on their phone talking or texting. Have you heard about all the accidents in the roundabout at Orchard Lake and Northwestern Highway since it was built? No deer were found behind the wheel. No raccoons, Canada geese or woodchucks. They cannot reach the pedals or see over the dash.

Many years ago, the Department of Natural Resources (D.N.R.) allowed using bait to hunt deer. When there was a call to ban this practice, people who were making money from growing deer bait (corn, sugar beets, carrots, apples, etc.) complained to their local officials. I never followed up on the practice of baiting, but plenty of businesses on the way up north still sold deer bait.

The D.N.R. then allowed the recreational feeding of deer statewide. You could put out two gallons of feed a day. I was told by a feed store at the time that they sell as much food for deer as they do for birds. Then the complaints started among neighbors. It could have been allowed on large parcels of land but not small urban, suburban, lots.

Naturally Speaking Farmington Hills Deer
(Joe Derek)

Then wasting disease appeared up north and recreational feeding of deer became illegal. It is no longer allowed in Farmington Hills. The damage, however, was done. The deer were used to hanging around our neighborhoods.

Look up the history of snagging salmon and put-and-take pheasant hunting–two other un-smart ideas. I have known some really nice people at the D.N.R. over the years. They do great work. If I remember correctly, these bad decisions are made by the Natural Resources Commission and then passed down to the D.N.R. to implement.

Breaking news! Look up “In Deer Territory, Good Fences Make Good Gardens” in the Washington Post, dated September 15, 2021. It’s a great article on the use of fencing. They suggest eight feet. My use of six feet around my garden and flowers has been 100 percent successful.

Take care of nature. They are not making any more of it.

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