Too much is too much

I live in NE Ann Arbor, south of Plymouth Rd, and have since 1980.
Deer have been around my house for the last few years– devasting any plantings that I have, trees and shrubs that existed when I moved in. I’m going to post some pictures of my “old garden” and the deer that have been in my yard over the years


If you look carefully at this picture taken 4 years ago, you can see my arborvitae in the background, creating a full screen, blocking my view of the neighbor’s yard.

This is my arborvitae "hedge" now

This is my arborvitae “hedge” now

Deer in my yard last winter.  We have had herds as large as 18 deer go through at once.

Deer in my yard last winter. We have had herds as large as 18 deer go through at once.

test P0000045
Leaving some scat behind as a "thanks" for me.

Leaving some scat behind as a “thanks” for me.

P0000009 (2)

Buck in my backyard, 2013


Buck in my yard early December, 2015

P1240875 P0000117 (2)
A few years back-- notice the full hedge of arborvitae

A few years back– notice the full hedge of arborvitae


What used to be…


Now, what’s left of the arborvitae

Not even on my deck is it safe!

Not even on my deck is it safe!



Maurita Holland, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

I speak for Ann Arbor’s symbol, the oak tree, shown on its stationery, documents, and doors, selected because it is a keystone species in our area, a species with disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance.

Oaks are the hub of a nature wheel, they support more than 5,000 species of insects, 58 species of reptiles and amphibians, 105 species of mammals, and over 150 species of birds that rely on them for some part of their life cycle. When oaks go, so do these associated species. Oaks create acorns, one primary native food for deer. Deer love eating new oak seedlings, and big oaks cannot replace themselves when deer densities are high. Loss of big oaks in Washtenaw County would cause massive animal suffering. A recent walk in Bird Woods showed no oak saplings—all browsed away, a generation of trees lost. That’s little surprise since a Cornell University study found no new oaks when deer density exceeds 14 per square mile, and our deer density in northwest Ann Arbor is much higher.

The cerulean warbler from South America comes to raise its young here. It depends on our mature trees, especially oaks once common in Washtenaw County. Hooded warblers migrate from Mexico and Central America to raise their young here. This species once was common in Washtenaw County but is now on the state threatened list. They seek forests with a mature canopy and a dense understory of small trees and shrubs in which to build their nests, but deer browse this understory so completely as to obliterate their nest sites, and deer even eat bird eggs when found close to the ground. I speak for our City’s symbol.

Actually, I also speak for deer, hungry deer who reproduce within 6-9 months of birth and continue reproducing until they die after 10-12 years. Contrary to myth, does, each of which has 1-3 fawns per year, will live within 1 mile of where they were born. Research shows that deer do not migrate long distances or fill vacuums. Instead, they stay in the area where they were born, doubling in population every two years. Does eat 10 lbs/day; bucks eat 15-20 lbs/day. Last winter, some actually left bloody tracks in the snow here, their mouths bleeding from eating spruce trees, one of many trees on the so-called “deer resistant list” that hungry deer eat when food is scarce.

Finally, I speak for the Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance, formed by citizens who have experience with ecology, environment, gardening, conservation stewardship and who long have participated with local and national nature organizations. Our website,, grew out of the tremendous number of resources we were reading and sharing. We soon realized that we had built a resource of interest to a much wider community. In fact, our online stats show that recent visitors to our site have come from as far away as Brazil. The deer management problem stretches from Brazil to Canada. We’ve collected best practices and management plans from hundreds of states and cities that are taking back their environment from a species that has no predator and whose population, left unchecked save for deer-vehicle collisions, doubles every two years.

#A2manydeer #we4eb

Absolutely, there is damage to native species in our parks and elsewhere

I have been troubled by the assertions from the opposition that there has been no damage to native species on our parks and elsewhere in the City from deer. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. But, it order to make solid argument about this, actual measuring studies have to have been done, beginning here about 1970. Those seem to be precious and few for AA.

It occurred to me that such studies have been done in Michigan though, beginning long ago — as deer began to repopulate the deforested (and Indian managed) lands of the eastern US and Michigan. Indeed, I know my Grandfather did deer exclosure studies with his Forestry students, at the University, in the 1940’s.

buck1It also occurred to me that the most outstanding place to make these measurements were, if such a study had been done, on North and South Manitou Island — on the Sleeping Bear National Park. Why? Because of the treacherous current in the Lake round these two islands prevented deer from reaching them. But the North island was privately owned, make into a hunt club — with imported deer. And the South island was significantly publicly owned in this century, never has had deer on it.

Yes! A study was done in 1982 and 1983 by Brian Hazlett and Robert VandeKopple — at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station on Douglas Lake. Conclusion: A noticeable difference in forest structure and floristic composition was observed, largely due to an introduced deer herd on North Manitou. This attached report documents the differences in very fine detail.

We can therefore be certain similar effects are underway here, though they are complicated by Ann Arbor’s heavy infestation of invasive shrubs, and by much greater human disturbance.

Chris Graham

The report has been loaded on the website and can be found under Plant Biodiversity or link directly to The terrestrial vegetation and flora of North and South Manitou Islands, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Report, by Hazlett BT, Vande Kopple RJ, University of Michigan Biological Station Technical Report, 1983.

#A2manydeer #wc4eb #realfactsabouturbandeer

Oh, Deer! Ann Arbor’s Herd Problem

Oh, Deer! Ann Arbor’s Herd Problem

In a blog post from Local in Ann Arbor, there is as good synopsis of some of the conflicting views of deer.

“In the end, the question of what to do about Ann Arbor’s excess deer is as much about values as about science.”

Go to to read more.

The City of Ann Arbor is currently gathering public input about residents’ perception of the deer population in Ann Arbor


Our mission as Wild Ones is to promote native plants in natural landscapes. Many of us have added rain gardens to the mix which rely on our deep-rooted natives to soak up water and infiltrate clay soils. However, birds, butterflies, and buzzing pollinators are not the only ones who love native plants. Deer do, too—very much. Those of us in the townships, those of you who commute on Huron River Drive, are all too familiar with deer overabundance—and, for the past five years, so have parts of Ann Arbor.

The City of Ann Arbor is currently gathering public input about residents’ perception of the deer population in Ann Arbor and its impact. Some parts of the city and surrounding areas have been more effected than others. As a result, it is very important that people respond from across the city and townships.

There are two ways in which you can make your observations and opinions heard.

First is an on-line survey which is open now and available until January 2nd. Sign up for A2 Open City Hall and then go to:

Second is a public discussion on:

Wednesday, Dec. 10:

Huron High School, Media Center Room #5101
2727 Fuller Road
Ann Arbor


To learn more about the complex issues surrounding deer management, go to:

Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance has brought together scientific papers, news articles, deer management plans developed by cities, parks, and states across the country. You can learn the strategies that worked and the ones that didn’t. Because these animals are so fertile and lack natural predators, the population growth is exponential. Not doing anything is not an option. Please take the time to explore this informative website and don’t forget to fill out the on-line survey.

Thank you,

Andrea Matthies
President, Ann Arbor Chapter
Wild Ones. Native Plants, Natural Landscaping
Master Rain Gardener 2013

“Garden as though life depends on it.” — inscription from Douglas Tallamy. Bringing Nature Home. How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens.


Starvation winter diet?

Up north deer tend to gather in White Cedar swamps in the hard parts of Winter — where they can try to get some water and where they have browse overhead to eat. Up there, it is certain that Winters limit their numbers.

It was truly astonishing to see that deer heavily consumed the last remaining conifer shrubs (Junipers) last Winter in Barton Hills — many of which are/were many decades old. They had never eaten them before, and it must have been very difficult for them to do. Unprotected yews and all other small conifers were gone out there years ago.

I would estimate the replacement cost for Juniper plants I know about out there to be in the tens of thousands of dollars — and what, exactly, do we use in their place that is evergreen? I guess we are limited now to Boxwood — but many Boxwood cultivars had a hard time with the cold, last Winter, also.

All of this is just a dismal feeling for someone like me who loves and builds and cares for gardens for people.

Doe came visiting this morning

Ward 2

9:00 am
She was on her own, no other deer with her today, or at least so far today.

Send us your pictures of deer– dead or alive!

Deer browse

Ward 2

P0000011As we were going out last night to go to dinner and see some of the beautiful color around, we didn’t get too far before running across this grouping – 4 deer, at least to begin with, at the corner of Green and Hubbard. This was just a few blocks from my home.


P0000004This morning it looks, this is what I woke up to on my deck. It looks like that grouping, or some close relatives, visited during the night.

See that black hose by the flower pots? Its connected to a motion sensor that squirts when it detects something moving. Too bad it must have been pointed in the wrong direction. Hard to anticipate where the deer will be coming from.

We’ve had some similar, but smaller damage over the summer– but was kind of hoping it was just a bad wind day. I don’t see that as a possiblity this time.

Deer Attack– Scio Township

We want to be informed, and agree that there needs to be something done about the deer population. We live in Scio Township,1-1/2 acres. We had a herd of deer, numbering 18 last winter. They seem to live in our yard. We currently have six, but expect the large population to return this winter. There are four new fawns.

I too was almost attacked by a mother deer, my grandchildren came to my aid. ( I was sitting in a chair reading) I feel I should be able to enjoy my yard and not worry about deer attacking me!!!!!

I realize there are people who love deer, they are beautiful. We have a neighbor who feeds them,but since DNR allows the feeding of deer nothing can be done. She is a renter and doesn’t take care of the property. Deer poop is disgusting. Ticks are a problem.

I truly hope that something can be accomplished to control the deer population.

Come on people, think of the future.

Wanda Heinrich

Threat to native vegetation

I am very aware of the problem and I absolutely agree that part of it is the threat to native vegetation. I have also been impacted as a gardener.

If you see comments on some of the news stories, you’ll see that some people are very unsympathetic. Either they don’t want to interfere with the deer because they are beautiful or they just don’t want to spend money. And unfortunately, many people who care about wild animals don’t have the same regard for the plants.

Vivienne Armentrout
Member of the MI Botanical Club, Huron Valley Chapter