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White-tailed deer (image credit: Mass.gov)

THE “EDGE” AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE BOOMING DEER POPULATIONS IN THE SUBURBS

ohDEER is the leader in all natural deer, mosquito, and tick control.

In the geographic region where ohDEER does business – Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands; the eastern part of Long Island, NY; and central New Jersey – deer populations are booming.

To be more specific, in that far and away the most common species of deer in ohDEER territory is the white-tailed deer, it is the white-tailed deer population that is booming in these parts.

Consequences of these rapidly growing numbers are more deer for hunters to harvest for food, and more deer whose beauty and elegance can move and inspire us.

A rapid rise in numbers of deer also result in more of the animals getting hit by automobiles, more deer carrying disease-harboring ticks on to your property, more deer despoiling landscapes through their munching on shrubs and other plants, and more male deer injuring and ruining trees through their antler and head rubbing.

ohDEER delivers and provides highly-effective solutions that discourage deer from visiting and staying on your property, and it only makes sense why our company is so busy – and getting busier.

About those deer numbers.

Just think – and this is by way of example, explanation, and putting things in perspective – people of middle age today who grew up in the area that ohDEER services, scarcely or never saw a deer in that same area when they were kids.

Young people living in these areas today see deer all the time.

Now, consider this – around 1900 it is estimated that there were, in the entire state of Massachusetts, about 1,000 deer.

Today the number of deer in the Bay State is probably close to 100,000.

In the late 1800s, in New Jersey, there were very few deer.

In 2020, the estimate is that 125,000 deer are living in that state.

(Then, again, here are some numbers: Alabama has a deer population of about 1.6 million.  In 2017, in Alabama, approximately 84,000 deer were killed by hunters.  The Wisconsin deer population is in the neighborhood of 1.3 million.  In 2018, in Wisconsin, the number of deer that hunters harvested was 335, 243.)

Getting back to Southern New England, and parts of the U.S. Northeast, why were there so few deer 120 years ago, and so many today?

There are a few reasons.

As early as the mid to late 1700s, in southern New England – aka ohDEER country – unregulated and limitless colonist hunting of deer significantly depleted populations of the animal.

As the 19th century wound down, conservation of land and concern for and care of the environment grew, with this concern partially manifest in increased regulation on hunting.  Regulations on hunting continued to be added into the 20th century.  This was a win for deer.

Starting around 1900, winters have gradually become less severe in terms of cold and snow levels.  Deep snow, especially, can endanger deer, covering and making food inaccessible, and forcing the animals to expend valuable energy and calories to move about.

Then there is deer habitat – the destruction of habitat, and the return of habitat.

It is probably surprising to many that there are large wooded areas of land in the U.S. Northeast that were once pastures and farms.  These open areas were created by the arrival of European settlers who felled trees, and burned nascent vegetation … and burned the young vegetation again.

Colonists harvested wood from the trees, which they used for building homes, places of commerce, houses of worship, and schools – and which they shipped across the Atlantic and sold to Europe.  Scorched and cleared earth was used for the planting of crops, and the location of buildings.

Deer do not like to occupy the thick and deep forest – and that is because dense tree canopy prevents and discourages … on the floor of the forest … growth of plants on which deer rely for food.

Deer though very much like living in lightly wooded places, and along marshes, and in and around swamps … and tracts of woods interspersed with fields … areas where there is cover, but not too much cover – areas where food grows and is plentiful.

The “edge” is what biologists call this physical environment where deer prefer to dwell.

As the New World was populated and developed, deer departed these regions to swaths of still largely untouched woods – that contained the “edge” – and which lay off to the west and north of the civilization arising along the eastern belt of the United States.

Actually, segments of the “edge” to which deer traveled, and set up home, were created by Native Americans who administered controlled burning of woods with the purpose of leveling land and coaxing fields from the ashes, with the intent of attracting the deer which the native people relied on for food and clothing.

After the launch of the United States, and for nearly two centuries following, there were not many deer to be seen in the stretch across which today ohDEER does business.

As far back as the mid 1800s, throughout the region that ohDEER services, it was difficult even for a skilled and patient hunter to locate a deer.

But as time passed in the 1900s, industrialization continued to destroy the habitat of deer – that habitat to which they had begun to migrate and retreat even prior to when the colonists began ginning up and agitating for a break from England 150 years prior.

Yet there were also positives for deer, because as deer habitat was cleared and developed,, leafy suburbs were established and woods took back farmland (establishing “secondary woods”).    Green-lined suburbs grew, and smart and considerate planning and zoning in the suburbia set aside and protected and conserved open natural space on which there could be no building, and on which there could be no hunting.

The “edge” was in full ascendance.

Deer are all in to and loving the suburbs.

Now, consider – and we will use the state of Massachusetts by way of explanation – that legal hunting of deer in this state is allowable only as provided for in the table below:

  • Youth Deer Hunt Day – October 3
  • Paraplegic Hunt – October 29 through 31
  • Archery Season (Zones 10 through 14) – October 5 through November 28
  • Archery Season (Zones 1 through 9) – October 19 through November 28
  • Shotgun Season – November 30 through December 12
  • Primitive Firearms Season – December 14 through December

Regulated, also, are the numbers of deer an individual may harvest.

And even during deer hunt season, most of the “edge” of suburbia is off limits to hunters: the conservation land we already mentioned, residential neighborhoods. and even commercially-zoned strips buffeted by woods.

Yes, plenty of “edge” in which deer can assemble, ambulate, recreate, procreate, play, sleep, and eat.

The “edge” is not going anywhere.

Neither are the deer whom hold such affection for the edge.

But, as well, ohDEER is not going anywhere.

We are here – and we will continue to be here.

And we will continue to provide home and business owners with the all-natural and toxic-free solutions that keep deer … and mosquitoes and ticks … off your property.