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Deter 'deer drama' this winter

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(ARA) - Deer do some of their worst damage to your garden, landscape, trees and shrubs in winter, when other food sources are hard to come by.

"In the early 1900s, there were probably only about half a million deer spread out all over the country," says James Messina of Messina Wildlife. "Today, there are more than 15 million. Deer, it turns out, adapt quite well to life in suburbia. Keeping them away from residential and commercial landscaping can help everyone - deer and homeowners - to co-exist more happily together."

With no place to go and not much left to eat in the dead of winter, deer can wreak havoc in your backyard and destroy new buds and leaves before they ever have a chance to grow. As seasons change, the preferred food sources of deer change as well.

Deer develop new browsing trails as food sources change with the seasons, and repeatedly follow them through the season until new food sources begin to appear. That's when the deer drama begins ….

Whitetail deer can consume, on average, 12 pounds of foliage a day. And in the winter, when natural food sources are scarce, they'll give homeowners more trouble than any other time of year. The more snow we get, the worse the problem becomes. A winter of consistent snow coverage is great for bulbs and perennials, but evergreens face the toughest challenge from hungry deer looking to survive.

Deer are creatures of habit, and contrary to popular belief, the majority of them do not migrate. Bucks are known to travel more than 100 miles, but does will stay within the same three to four square miles for their entire lives. This means the deer you see this year are probably the exact same deer you saw last year. It also means that once they've found a food source, potentially yours, they'll be back time and time again.

Fend off deer by applying repellents before you see the damage, encouraging the deer to move along and not include your landscape in their browse buffet.

Repellents rely on deer's strong sense of smell and range from commercial products to homemade concoctions of human hair, blood meal or chunks of deodorant soap. But traditional animal repellents have become less effective than they were decades ago, Messina notes.

"That's because many of those repellents rely on a bad smell - like the stench of a rotting carcass - to fool animals into thinking a predator's kill is in the area and the predator may be returning for it," he says. "But the number of predators out there has actually declined, and deer know it. They're much less afraid of predators, so relying on 'scare tactics' has a greater tendency to fail over time."

Some deer have also built up a resistance to chemical deterrents. Plus, increasingly eco-conscious homeowners prefer not to put potentially harmful chemicals into the environment.

More homeowners are turning to organic alternatives, like Deer Stopper, a repellent formulated from plant extracts. This organic option works because it confronts deer by using their natural repulsion to certain plant smells and tastes rather than relying on fear of predator tactics.

"We know that deer will eat more than 500 different types of plants," Messina says. "Normally, they're quite discriminating. But in fall and winter, they become less picky and much more of a threat to suburban landscapes. Still, like many wild animals, deer rely on taste and smell to judge if a food may be harmful to them. If your backyard foliage tastes or smells unpleasant to them, one bite and they'll move on."

Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife Management is the only organic repellent in the country certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). An effective taste deterrent, Deer Stopper is 100 percent organic and completely safe for use on all types of plants and shrubs. OMRI lists it as approved for use by organic growers. The smell- and taste-based technology also eliminates the need to use foul, odor-based repellent products, which can be quite unpleasant for homeowners' use.

Deer Stopper actually smells good to humans. Lightly misting vegetation once a month, even during the cold and snowy winter, will keep deer away all season long.

This winter protect your plants and shrubs and create your own boundaries for foraging bucks and deer. Now you're in control of the drama.

For more information on Deer Stopper, retail store locations and other wildlife management repellents visit www.messinawildlife.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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