One of the pleasures of living in Fayetteville is the opportunity to view the wildlife that thrives in the wooded hills in and around our city. Deer are particularly abundant in our area, and this can be both good and bad news for residents. While we may enjoy catching glimpses of wild deer in our forests and parks, we are usually much less enthusiastic about finding them in our back yards, devouring the landscaping.
The City's Animal Services Advisory Board has the following recommendations for an Integrated Pest Management approach to managing deer in your neighborhood. When used together, these methods can help us live alongside deer with minimum conflict.
It is unlawful to bait and feed deer in Fayetteville under regulation 7.06 of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The regulation went into effect on April 25, 2019 and states: It is unlawful to place or deposit foodstuffs, scents, lures, grains, minerals, pelletized feed, or other materials for the purpose of hunting, attracting, or enticing wildlife for any reason inside the CWD Management Zone. Fayetteville lies within “Zone 1 Northwestern Arkansas.”
- Baiting and feeding creates an unnatural congregation of deer which facilitates transfer of the disease through direct or indirect contact. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer family. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact of bodily fluids like saliva, blood, feces, or urine and indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food, or water.
- Feeding attracts deer (and other wild animals) into your neighborhood, where they can damage landscape plants and gardens.
- Drawing deer into urban areas increases the occurrence of deer/auto collisions, resulting in damage to property or injury.
- Too much high-starch foods like corn or commercial feed can make deer sick or even kill them, as their digestive systems are not used to these foods.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
One way to keep deer from feasting on your garden is to focus on plants that are deer-resistant. Some examples include: butterfly bush, holly, purple coneflower, and lavender. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service offers tips for dealing with deer, and a more-comprehensive list of deer-resistant plants may be found here. Keep in mind, however, that if deer are hungry enough, they may dine on even deer-resistant plants.
There are a number of commercially available products that are odor- or taste-based deer repellents. These can be effective, if applied (and reapplied) properly.
Use Fencing or Netting
There are a number of different approaches to deer fencing, ranging from low-visibility fencing to single-strand electric fences, to high-tensile slanted fences. The U of A Cooperative Extension offers an article about fending options in their May 31, 2017 issue of Pest Management News (scroll to page 8).
Deer Management Q&A
I thought the City was considering an urban hunt or sterilizing deer. What is happening with those programs?
There are multiple methods of deer population management currently being review by both city staff and the Animal Services Advisory Board. This is a work in progress and currently efforts are being made to educate the public on deer population management options and to collect data on the deer population.