We live in a gated community that comprises more than four thousand acres of woodland. It is an older planned community, having been established more than forty years ago. Homes must be built with minimum impact on the environment. We have miles of nature trails and hiking trails, four lakes and multiple streams with waterfalls. The community is fully owned and overseen by residents. We have a General Manager and a team of people who attend to the business and maintenance, but they report to the Board of Directors of the Property Owner's Association, all of whom are elected by residents. One of our community's "core values" is stewardship of the environment.
As one might expect, we have abundant wildlife here. From our own house we have seen bears, coyotes, bobcats, and the usual wild turkeys, 'possums, 'coons, skunks, foxes, etc., walking across our property. By far the most frequently seen wildlife (except for the damned squirrels) are deer. It is a rare day that I do not see several deer along our roads. We planted shrubbery known to be rather distasteful to deer, but that doesn't mean they won't give anything a try. So we regularly spray with organic repellent around our favorite plants.
Most of the citizens who live here are fine with the deer. They are part of the community and we simply know to watch for them crossing the roads and we know we will have some damage to our plants no matter how diligent we are. Because we have so much forest and green space, our deer are healthy. They are not over-populated like they often are in the suburbs of large cities.
A doe and her twin fawns near our mailbox early one morning
They were alert but not frightened at all by my presence.
Imagine my surprise when I learned there is talk among a few residents about "culling" some of the deer. At a recent property owners meeting, there was a small rumble about the deer "problem." And what a "nuisance" the deer were. One resident gave a dollar estimate of how many plants he had lost to deer. My blood boils when I hear such talk. The really impossible thing to believe was one suggestion that we allow archers to come in and "cull" the deer. They wouldn't have to go on private property, just hunt them along the roadside. They tried to justify the actions by saying the community could donate the meat to our local pantry, and serve some venison in our club house dining room.
Fortunately those few ideas were quickly dismissed. The overwhelming majority of property owners consider the deer as a natural part of our environment who have as much right to share our part of the mountain as the people do. When I heard the man wanting to bring in archers, I thought to myself, "Who ARE these people who have invaded our community?"
Photo taken from my car with my iPod.
When a deer crosses in front of you, you stop to wait for the rest of them.
Now how sporting would it be to kill such tame animals?
We have lived in typical suburbia where the community was divided between those who fed the deer and those who wanted them eliminated. The deer there were indeed overpopulated and unhealthy and I was in favor of removing some of them. Feeding any wildlife is a horrible practice that never has a good end. There are prominent signs at all three of our community entrances that feeding of any wild animal is strictly forbidden.
Yes, we have the occasional bear break-in, most often because someone left food on a screened porch or deck. Bears will tear down bird feeders left outside at night. And a dog will occasionally get sprayed by a skunk. And deer will try to eat plants, even if the plants are considered "resistant to deer." And that's what happens when you live in the woods. And we don't mind one bit.
[OK, we DID mind a lot when a flying squirrel committed suicide by crawling into the dryer outlet vent.] But generally speaking, we adapt to the animals rather than expecting them to adapt to us.
After all, they were here first.