Punk Deer

This post could also be titled “When deer go bad.”

Black-tailed deer, browsing a flowering tree. Photo by Andrée Fredette

This pretty much explains why all the trees on this island have a “tutu skirt”, at about saddle height.

See the three “action shots” taken with a phone through my window on a grey day, below. Not very crisp, I admit, but they show a determined black-tailed deer, springing up to “box” at a Garry oak branch until the vibration brings it within reach…

Deer and Garry Oak 1. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Get ready, set, jump.

Deer and Garry Oak 2. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And grasp, and pull. The whole tree was shaking. Impressive ripping.

Deer and Garry Oak 3. Photo by Andrée Fredette

No predators means an overabundant population of black-tailed deer in the Southern Gulf Islands, and Southern Vancouver Island, including Victoria’s suburbs… and even downtown.

This means that gardens and any special specimen tree or shrub must be fenced. And by fenced, I mean gulag-style, at least 6 to 8 feet tall. Otherwise, vegetation gets grazed practically to lawn level. Not fenced like in the photo below:

Camas Lilies at Fort Rodd Hill Park. Photo: Parks Canada

This picture of young people admiring camas lilies, was taken (not by me) at Fort Rodd Hill, in Victoria. While it is well-intended, it is laughable.

Note the mini-fence, designed to keep people off the flowers in a Garry Oak meadow. The deer would have no problem mowing these plants down. Someone must be guarding those flowers from dusk to morning, because meadow flowers are part of the deer buffet.

I have a Garry Oak meadow in front of my house: it looks like a golf green. In ten years, I only occasionally got a glimpse of camas lilies and other wildflowers. Only a glimpse, mind you. They were rapidly erased by our four-legged friends.

Final part of my rant: new trees don’t stand a chance. Inside my garden fence, which was installed three summers ago, I have spotted little Garry oaks popping up under the parent tree. Little arbutus (or madrone, in the US) are also coming up.  These trees are valued because this is the northern part of their habitat, a habitat that is being degraded. I repeat: outside a fenced area, saplings don’t stand a chance.

In forest clearings around here, young firs and cedars are browsed into little pitiful stumpy things about two feet high…

Deer cull: two four-letter words.

It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that I like them in reasonable numbers.

Trio of black-tailed deer, East Point, Saturna Island. Photo © Andrée Fredette