Discover everything you need to know about deers in our guide below.

deer grazes in a residential area

What are Nuisance Deer?

Deer live throughout the US. In some settings, they’re docile wildlife that people love to see. In others, they’re voracious pest animals that can destroy a flower bed or vegetable garden. Deer become nuisance deer when they live, breed, or feed in an area where they’re causing property damage or consuming a person’s landscaping or crops. 

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Deer eat a variety of forage and have been shown to consume over 140 different plant species. Their diets change in response to seasonality and availability. Depending on the location and time of year, they’ll eat leafy parts of wooded plants, herbaceous broad-leaved plants, crops, seeds, grass, lichens, and mushrooms. 

While deer live virtually anywhere, they’re prevalent in residential areas that border wild or uncultivated lands, like greenbelts or forests. The untamed lands provide them with shelter in which to live and breed, while the residential areas provide abundant food sources. 

In the wild, male deer live for about 2-3 years. While their maximum lifespan is about 20 years, few make it past the age of about ten due to hazards like roads, weather, and natural predators. 

Deer with baby
deer on a green yard

What Damage do Deer Cause?

Deer can cause extensive damage to gardens and landscaping. They will eat the new growth off seedlings and established trees, consuming buds and reducing tree growth rates. 

Deer also love to consume ornamental plants and can destroy an entire flower garden in a single night. During breeding season, male deer will rub their antlers on trees to mark their territory and leave their scent, causing deep gouges in trees that can kill them entirely. 

Deer can also carry diseases that may affect people, livestock, and domestic pets. 

How to Get Rid of Nuisance Deer

The best way to get rid of nuisance deer is with exclusion methods. Adequate deer fencing can protect high-interest areas like gardens or orchards or provide a humane perimeter around your entire property. 

Since deer are capable jumpers, “deer proof” fences must be at least 8 feet tall and constructed of material like vertical wood paneling or chain link, which deer cannot squeeze through. 

In addition to exclusion methods, we recommend using targeted deer repellents like strong-smelling bar soap and homemade or store-bought scent-based repellents to deter deer from eating plants and trees. 

You can also swap out landscaping plants deer love with less attractive varieties like foxtails, poppies, and herbs like sages. 

For more information on how to get rid of nuisance deer, check out our comprehensive guide

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Most deer deterrents last about 30 days and should be reapplied after heavy rains or watering.

Deer carry a variety of diseases, including Q fever, chlamydiosis, leptospirosis, campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis, and giardiasis. 

If deer are showing up in your yard, it’s probably because they’re finding readily-available food there. Deer love to consume tender new growth and landscaping plants and are attracted to food sources like twigs, berries, fruits, and flowers. The best way to eliminate them is to reduce available food sources and employ exclusion tactics.

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