>Wildlife Responses&Miscellaneous Items – 7/8/10

>Deer Thinning Question.  We were asked to question whether there were any in the community who thought our deer numbers were so high that they should be thinned.  We heard from a number of you who said no and several who said yes.  The comments that have come in so far are printed below:

Wildlife has not grown to a point where they are trouble just a nuisance to some in some minor way.

 I am among those whose newly planted flower garden has been raided by the local deer, yet I am NOT willing to reduce the number of these magnificent animals.  What I have found that works, is to place a sacrificial planter in front near the street, this seems to keep them away from the plants that are deeper into the yard.  I have also heard that cougar urine can be purchased and lightly spread around the property and it will deter the deer from coming in.  I have seen it on the market as “Deer Off” (I think) but have not tried it.  Like yourself, we are grateful to have the wildlife we do and so sorry to see reckless drivers reduce the population.

We love seeing the deer come into our yard.  We don’t see them enough, but that’s probably because we don’t have a garden.  We do have a cherry tree, so we’re hoping we see them soon.

I don’t feel its necessary to thin the deer population. I used to see them in my yard and loved it but I have nieghbors with dogs all around me. I used to have a male and female pheasant. They were so pretty. I have 5 gray squirrels and 2 brown. Had to take some abandoned baby squirrels to the Wildlife shelter on bainbridge Island last year. And an injured squirrel to the animal hospital in Gorst. They work with the wildlife shelter. That organization is awesome, I try to donate a little here and there. I love living here, and love the critters. Unless the deer are injured or sick they have a right to be here too. There isn’t a whole lotta room for them left anymore. Thanks again for the information Jim. I was sorry to hear about your neighbor. That whole situation is so sad, my heart goes out to the family. Thanks for all your hard work in our community.

I am in favor of killing 2 of 3 raccoons in my backyard as I have read that relocation is unkind.  My problem is I don’t own a weapon (bow & arrow or 22 rifle) to do the job.

I thought that the population was CONTROLLED EACH YEAR. Guess I was misinformed.

My family agrees with you, extra effort on our end is worth the co-existing. We love the deer and geese, they can come visit our yard any time!

Actually, I think that there are too many people in the area.  However, I do not believe that we should thin them out.  I just drive defensively and wash my hands frequently.  Deer numbers are, if anything, too low.  A “NO” for the thinning proposal.

…. you can add us in the yes pile, of those that would like to see a reduction in the deer population here. Nice to have a few around, but the herd needs to be thinned out a bit.

Allowing the deer to feed on the bounty in my yard is part of my “community service” and I would rather alter my own habits than cull them.  
Same for the geese. Thanks for doing this informal survey. 

Please do not pursue ‘thinning’ out the deer, they are beautiful and were here first!

Thanks for the update. I generally don’t mind the deer. I too have been a victim of their midnight raids. I should have taken photos of years past when I tried growing strawberries. All during the spring they grow lush leaves, get blossoms with the beginnings of berries and in one night they become leafless sticks. 

While I accept that the deer were here first and I do enjoy seeing them around, it might be wise to get Fish and Wildlife to do an assessment as to whether there are too many for the land (presumably the preserve are) to support.  I still have to get off my rear end and put up my wildlife camera to capture the little midnight raiders in the act! I bought the thing three years ago and have yet to set it up. If I ever do, you will be first on my list for the pictures.

The deer visit my yard every year and love my roses.  They also “helped” trim my raspberry plants and eat my pole green beans down to the ground.  But I love seeing them and am willing to put up with their munching.  If I was really worried I would put up some fencing….but I haven’t bothered with it yet.

The wild animals were here long before we came along and messed up their habitat.  The least we can do is LEAVE THEM ALONE!  “Thinning them out” is just a disgusting idea.  If you don’t want them eating your plants….let’s get creative and come up with a more civilized way to detour them! 

And Recommended Solutions:

My wife and I enjoy your newsletter.   I for one (or should I say “we for two”) dread the thought of thinning out the deer population in our area.   Like you… living amongst the wildlife in Illahee is one of our favorite things about living in this area.  Although we have been “victims” of the deer foraging on our flowers right on our own deck… we feel it’s a small price to pay for the beauty we get to enjoy every day here.  

That being said… we have taken our own steps in detouring the deer away from certain areas in our yard that we would like to keep uneaten by our 4 legged neighbors.   While researching different types of deer deterrents… we found a GREAT solution that has worked very well for us. 

We have a puppy that spends lots of time playing in the yard, so we didn’t want any of the chemical/spray types around (plus my research showed they’re not very effective anyways)… and we didn’t like the thought of having to put up any type of fencing with the height required to keep a leaping deer out.   One day, searching on Amazon.com, we came across something INGENIUS, highly rated by previous customers and exactly what we needed… motion sensing sprinklers!   We bought 2 of them a couple months ago and we love ’em!

The product is called “The Scarecrow” by Contech Electronics.   At $45 a piece, they aren’t the cheapest way about it… but they are the quickest and least intrusive by FAR.  They are fully adjustable for sensitivity as well as water pressure, so you can dial in exactly the area you want to detect motion (i.e NOT the neighbor everytime he walks on his lawn next door)… how far it sprays (i.e. NOT the afore-mentioned neighbor walking on his lawn)… and the spray coverage area (small arc or 360 degree circle).   Here is a link to the sprinkler on Amazon:

Not a big water-waster at all either.   When it does detect motion and sets off, it only goes for 3 seconds and then resets.   And it’s one of those ratcheting sprinkler heads, so the sound and sight of that pulsing water stream scares them right away and they eventually learn to not even go in that area anymore.  

Two is all we needed (one at each end of the area we wanted to keep “deer free”) and now they just re-route and pass through the other side of the house where they’re more than welcome to graze about.  

These things are GREAT.   Well, until the day you forget to turn it off before venturing in front of it and get soaked… don’t ask me how I know… lol  :-)

Anyways… I just wanted to pass this on.   We absolutely love ’em.  No chemicals to worry about, no fencing to block the view of all the hard work you’ve done in the garden/flower beds… just a quick harmless spurt of water.

For Geese:

Landscape modification is one of the most effective and environmentally sound methods for reducing goose populations and/or damage to lawns and yards.

This can be accomplished by:

1.  Planting shrubs, hedges or replacing lawn with unpalatable ground cover (no english ivy please….).

2.  Urban geese obtain much of their food from grass and they feed in areas with the most nutritious grass (i.e. lawns that are mowed and fertilized regularly). Consequently, geese can be discouraged from foraging at a site by making the grass less appealing. Techniques for this may include:

         a.  Mowing and fertilizing the lawn as infrequently as possible (think of it as one less “honey-do”). It is difficult for geese to access the young shoots if the grass is tall and older stems are not as appealing as young shoots.

          b. Planting a less-palatable grass species (not guaranteed to get rid of your problem if there are limited feeding areas as a less appealing feeding area is better than no feeding area).  Although geese will feed on almost any grass, they exhibit a feeding preference for Kentucky bluegrass. They dislike tall fescue, especially certain varieties which contain an endophytic fungus (be careful as this endophytic fungus is not good for goats, sheep or horses and can make them sick).

3.  Geese avoid sites with bushes, hedges, or other objects that would allow a predator to approach without being seen. Other methods that make a lawn appear less safe to geese include:

          a.  Placing shrubs or boulders close to foraging areas. The obstacles should be large enough for other animals or predators, such as a dog, to hide behind.

          b.  Planting tall-growing trees or not removing tall trees in the area. Geese prefer not to use areas where trees obstruct their ability to fly.  Geese are so heavy that they gain altitude slowly when flying–they require a low flight angle of about 13° to take flight.

Another Controversial Issue?  Beach Walking.  With over 3 miles of saltwater shorelines in Illahee there are probably strong feelings as to whether beach property owners have the right to prevent people from walking across their beaches (below high tide).  The Kitsap Sun did an article recently presenting the issue http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/jul/05/the-legal-dilemma-of-beach-walking/ followed by a blog article and questionnaire  http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2010/07/08/beach-walkers-are-still-waiting-for-a-legal-answer/.  We researched the issue some time ago and came to the same conclusions as the article and wonder how others feel.  Also, this is one of the issues the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update is to be discussing so we thought it would be good to get the thoughts of Illahee residents.

Illahee Preserve Handicapped Parking Complaint.  Most are aware of the 460 acre Illahee Preserve and that the surrounding community and the East Bremerton Rotary have been volunteering to support and maintain the Preserve.  The other day we found out a complaint had been registered that the handicapped parking area was being filled with wood chips.  Before we could get out there to look the situation over some pro-active Park’s Department personnel had already taken care of the problem.  The Preserve support group sent out the following email and photos in appreciation of the prompt attention.

A big thank you to the Kitsap County Park’s Department personnel who took care of moving the chips out of the handicapped parking spaces and putting back the sign that had been either taken out or knocked down!!!!!!    When we ask for free chips for use on the Preserve trails the landscaping and tree removal companies are generally really good about placing them back in to woods where they don’t interfere with anything and especially parking.  This time we got so many loads of chips that they spilled over into the handicapped parking stalls faster than we could organize work parties to take care of them.  When we went out there this morning (Thursday) to see what we could do we found that the Park’s Department had already been there and had taken care of the situation.  See the attached photos.  While we like to think that the Preserve is being primarily taken care of by volunteers, it is really nice to have the support of Parks when situations like this arise.  Bravo Zulu and Thank You to the Park’s Department!!!! 

Last Mulching Work Party on Monday.  We need to spread the remaining mulch on rain garden Plot #4 and will do so on Monday (7/12/10).  Since it may still be warm we are scheduling to go from 5:30 – 7:00 pm at the Almira parking lot.  This is the last plot to be mulched and it should finish off the last pile of mulch.  Thank you to all who have helped and will help on Monday.

Jim Aho