Feeding deer in town has consequences

Opinion

To the Editor:

Think back some 10 to 15 years ago we did not have town deer. Deer travel about and there are now more deer in town than in the forested areas of our province. There are people in town who feed the deer which encourages them to return. There are now multi-generations of deer relying on the town as their food source.

Do not feed the deer. The deer eat whatever vegetation there is in town so why not try to discourage them? There are plants that deer do not like: lavender, calendula, salvia, snapdragons, sage and others. Deer do not like the smell of egg shells or coffee grounds so why not save them to put out around plants deer like and help fertilize the soil?

I know people who have gone out in winter and checked areas in their yard where deer have laid overnight and they have found ticks. This time of year they would be adult female ticks who have fed and would be ready to lay their eggs. This means a nest of tick eggs with potentially 3,000 eggs that will hatch into seed ticks in someone’s back yard beginning a new life cycle.

The entire province of Nova Scotia is now deemed to be at risk. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of Lyme in Canada.

There is now no 100 percent safe area here because blacklegged ticks have been found in people’s backyards. Birds fly and ‘parachute’ in ticks from who knows where as we are seeing species not common to our area. Could climate change be playing a part along with how people have treated the environment?

Years ago it was rare to see deer in town but things have changed and why? Deer habitat as well as all wildlife habitat has changed. There are many factors to consider: climate change, clear cutting and monoculture plantations which do not support wildlife in our province. The problem has escalated over the past number of years and will likely continue to increase.

The Acadian forest with all its diversity supporting the wildlife of the province has rapidly disappeared over the last 50-some years. The forest industry, because of money, has been cutting too much, too fast and for too long. Clear cutting has produced barren land, a moonscape. The soft wood monoculture plantations are vulnerable as they are shallow rooted and susceptible to drought and wind throw. They are not healthy forests! Forests are made up of mixed species. The hardwoods are deep rooted and can exist on well-drained soil where softwoods become stressed and die because of a lack of water. Mixed forests exist in harmony protecting each other. The leaves and needles act as solar panels while the roots obtain nourishment from the soil and sustain them.

Perhaps we should look to the teachings of Aldo Leopold who was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, writer and outdoor enthusiast and his idea of ‘land ethic’: an ethical caring relationship between people and nature.

Things can change but change will be slow so perhaps the next 50 years the way we do things can help bring back some of the harmony with nature for the next generations. There are other ways of doing things, it is a matter of finding the way.

The ticks are here and are not going away! We must find ways to help minimize the potential of contracting diseases ticks carry. Lyme disease is just one of the many diseases ticks carry. We must find better ways of diagnosing and treating too. Research and new science can help lead the way.

Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow