Commentary

Linda Haac: Overrun with deer

November 29, 2013 

A doe grazes on neighborhood grass on Blackwood Mountain outside Chapel Hill this fall.

MARK SCHULTZ — mschultz@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

We’ve eaten the last of the turkey, and now it’s time to turn our attention to venison – deer still on the hoof that is.

The problem is: They’re everywhere.

The question is: What to do with them all?

Deer have become so plentiful in our community we’re in danger of having this neck of the woods of being overrun by them – and actually taken over. I believe it could be as early as next Thanksgiving when whole families of deer will be nudging us aside to sit down at our feasting tables.

They’ve already taken over our gardens. For quite a while, they’ve been busy depleting every horticultural specimen within miles. They will eat almost any plant, in fact, including things they’re not supposed to even like, but as a friend of mine says, “A hungry deer is a hungry deer.”

Some of us have been reduced to scouting the aisles of our local garden stores for anything green that might be considered toxic to deer. We’ll see if that works. One store, meanwhile, seems to have given up mostly. Its inventory appears lower than usual and now it has begun selling 50 pounds of deer corn for cheap.

Take for example what happened not long ago at our house: My husband was chopping down our pear tree in our front yard as we could never get any pears given the squirrels. They could climb higher than any deer. Once my husband had felled the tree, he heard a rustle behind him, which he believed to be the next-door neighbor walking over to say, “Hello.” When he swung around, instead, he noticed a pair of deer happily munching away on the downed trunk’s leaves. Never did the deer pause from their repast, although a living, breathing human was only three feet away in a small garden up against our house.

Deer have been known even to walk up our brick sidewalk in broad daylight, intent on reaching the front porch to eat the plants there. The UPS man once performed a near record-setting leap when a deer ran between the two of us as he was delivering a package to me. So used are the dogs in our neighborhood to these deer it’s a marvel to see. Sometimes deer walk right along with our leashed dogs. People from out-of-town now tell their children they’ll be greeted by deer as if we’ve specifically hired the animals for the task. Not only have our front yards been overrun, so have our backyards. It doesn’t matter how tall the fence is. The deer manage either to break through the fence or sail over it, all four limbs stretched out as if they’re practicing for the Olympics.

Meanwhile, at night the deer are strolling along our city sidewalks as if ours was a European city with that after-dinner practice. They amble across busy streets like North Greensboro Street causing the traffic to screech to a halt. Drivers tend to wait more patiently for our deer, however, than they usually do for our pedestrians. Otherwise, their cars might get head-butted.

My friend suggests the deer have moved in from the nearby woods because coyotes are in those woods now. I don’t know about that, but all this seems unnatural. It’s strange we don’t seem to have a problem, at least those of us who aren’t vegetarians or vegans don’t, when it comes to digging into a large bird sans feathers or a ham that no longer squeals, but we tend to balk about taking action against Bambi’s relatives. How long can this go on? Don’t we need a solution – and soon? I don’t know what the solution is but clearly we have a serious problem.

Linda Haac lives in Carrboro.

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