White-Tailed Deer are a Pest and Source of Meat


Perceptions of reality are always based on a point-of-view. Change the perspective and the object’s features, benefits and negative traits are all altered.

This is especially true with one of Wakulla County’s most easily identified wild creatures, the white tail deer. Depending on the respondent, it is a shrub-eating pestilent, a source of meat, or an innocent and beautiful forest creature with big eyes and long eyelashes.

Odocoileus virginianus osceolais is the scientific name of the white-tailed deer sub-species living in Wakulla County and much of Panhandle Florida. It is a member of the Cervidae family which includes moose, elk, and reindeer.

The white-tailed deer’s home range extends from Canada to Peru. There are more than 40 subspecies which cover this territory, each with their own unique features.

The first fossil record of deer date back to the Oligocene epoch about 30 million years ago. These early European deer were small by contemporary standards, but grew to impressive dimensions over time.

The Irish Elk was the largest of these early deer. It stood about seven feet at the shoulder and has a 12 foot wide set of antlers.

The term deer dates back to Old English and was applied to any kind of wild animal. Over the years the use was refined to only members of the Cervidea family.

Disney movies and plush toy makers have turned the deer into a touchstone for the warm and fuzzy aspects of nature for a particular segment of the population. Who could not root for Bambi as he escaped from the hunters.

Farmers, homeowner, and landscape managers usually have a different opinion about deer. A herd of deer are an eating plague of Old Testament proportion.

Even on a moonless night, a deer herd can mow down a multi-acre field of vegetable transplants and be well gone by daylight. The situation is compounded by the lack of traditional predators which eat livestock and people, too.

Homeowners and landscape managers do not fair any better. Depending on the time of year, deer consider many popular landscape plants a tasty respite from the usual acorns and twigs.

Deer have no concerns about turning a $10,000 plant installation job into a moonscape. Owners awaken to a horticultural nightmare.

Unfortunately, there are no plants or shrubs deer will not eat. For the deer, it is a choice of the best menu alternative in a particular setting.

There are a few control methods, but each require a commitment and a cost. A large viscous dog is effective, but there are other concerns with this method.

Home remedies, such as hair from a barbershop, may be of some value. However, they usually degrade in the sunshine or wash away with the first rain.

Commercially made repellants are available in retail outlets and on the internet. They too suffer the same shortcomings as many home remedies.

Fencing over six feet tall can work especially if used in conjunction with a charged electric fence ten feet in front of the other fencing material. The downside is the expense and the elimination of a view.

To learn more about white-tailed deer in Wakulla County and control methods, call 850-926-3931 and remember to “like” Wakullaextension on Facebook.


Posted: December 20, 2013

Category: Natural Resources, Wildlife
Tags: Animals, Deer, Environment, Florida, Les Harrison, Natural Wakulla, Nature, Wakulla County Extension, White-Tailed, Wildlife

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