Local News News Archive

Local News: Astoria vs. Deer, and the deer may be winning

It seems that there are more deer in Astoria than ever before….and more Astorians are going to great lengths to keep them from eating their gardens. Coast Community Radio’s Jacob Lewin reports. Script follows. [Listen below – Total Run Time: 3:00 min]

While they don’t do a census of urban deer, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says based on many public and staff observations, they appear to be on the increase. Master gardener Linda Brim’s theory is that they are becoming super-comfortable in town and the birth rate is going up and that’s caused some Astorians to be conflicted about deer:

Linda Brim: “They spend a lot of money on their landscape and they love to look out and see the deer, but they don’t want them eating their apple trees, their roses, their prize dahlias. It’s a real conundrum because we want both.”

Hand tool gardener Jessica Schleif recently spotted a group of 13 deer in town:

Jessica Schleif: “We have eliminated an incredible amount of their habitat, but yeah, they’re wild animals. This used to be their forest.”

Deer also like it here because if there’s trouble they can trot or saunter off to nearby woods:

[ambient sound: Deer sound]

Linda Brim is also co-owner of Brim’s Farm and Garden—where they’ve had their own problems with deer. She sells a lot of deer repellent:

Linda Brim: “We’re gonna spray some plant skid. It’s a deer repellent that is blood-based. Very, very effective. Let’s do the hostas….spray sound… they’re real easy to do.”

Brim says deer are very poor-sighted animals:

Linda Brim: The way that they find forage is they smell for it. If a plant has fragrance, the deer are going to find it faster. That’s how they shop. And we’re the same way. If we walk down the street and smell a bakery, we’re going to be drawn to that.”

Brim says It’s not so much that the spray smells bad, it’s that it prevents the deer from smelling the good scents. She’s also had an uptick in sales of motion detectors that turn on jet sprays:

[ambient sound: Jet spray]

Jessica Schleif has seen solutions ranging from the exotic to the mean:

Jessica Schleif: “I’ve seen people order wolf’s probably coyote urine…I’ve seen people sit on their porches with slingshots. I knew one women who was in her late seventies, who would sit on her porch with a slIngshot.”

Fencing is the classic solution, but has its limits:

Jessica Schleif: “I mean they can jump eight feet. I’ve seen ’em do it in some gardens. People often employ a double fencing technique or a double hedging technique.”

Of course there are deer resistant plants—narcissus, mediterranean herbs, elephant garlic—and interspersing them with roses and plants that deer like can work. So can getting a dog. And if you’re still totally frustrated, consider moving to Gearhart where landscaper Cory Bigelow says deer are hardly a problem at all, but elk…well, fences don’t stand a chance:

Cory Bigelow: “The animals in the back of the herd do not see what’s coming. That’s why they do so much damage to fences. The lead animal might see the fence and try to turn, but the hundred elk behind him don’t see it and go right through stuff.”

I’m Jacob Lewin for Coast Community Radio.