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November 10, 2007 19:25 - Deer Disease

Did you know that there is currently a disease that is killing approximately 3 million deer a year, which is 20% of the deer population. Deer are not going extinct, or anything like that, but it is good to be aware of what is going on with them.
The disease is epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). It is related to Ebola virus and kills deer the same way it kills humans, but human can not catch this disease. Deer are also dying from Blue Tongue Disease (BT) which has the same symptoms. The diseases are carried by the gnats that feed on the belly of a deer. About 10-14 days after being bitten by an infected gnat, the deer has a high fever and it dies a very unpleasant death with its digestive system and intestines rotting away.

Many of these sick/dead deer are found near water where they went to try to cool off.
This is very sad for these great animals. As much as we want to keep them out of our gardens and stop them from jumping in front of cars, this disease isn't anything I would wish on them. Even though you cannot contract this disease, if you come in contact with a deer through an accident or hunting, remember that it is estimated that 20% of deer have this disease, so be careful around them.

October 28, 2007 19:16 - What about deer repellents?

Deer repellents have proven effective in several research projects.
There are two basic types of repellents. The first affects the taste of the plants, the second effects the odor around the plants and either repulses the deer or scares them.
Common taste repellents include capsaicin which is found in hot peppers. Bloodmeal is one ingrediant used as an odor repellent. Rotten eggs are used as both a taste and odor repellent.
Scare repellents include coyote urine, and human hair.

Before applying a deer repellent, think about these things.
  1. How much will it cost compared to how much you will save? How often to I have to apply it, and do I have time to keep re-applying? Is it OK if I only get partial control, or do I need 100% control like a 10 foot fence would provide? Are the deer eating the plants or rubbing just rubbing them? Do you need it to just control deer or does it also need to work on rodents or rabbits?

There are many brands of repellents and you can even make your own if you can stand the smell and can be safe enough handling extrememly hot peppers that could burn your skin. It has been observed that these types of chemical repellents work best if they are applied to less prefered plants. If there are a lot of deer and very little other plants for the deer to eat it may take a combination of several strategies to protect your plants.
We'll talk more about deer repellents next time.

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