Backyard Deer Deterrents: the dirt on keeping deer out of your garden without breaking the bank.

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Why are there so many deer?

Historical deer population levels
Deer overpopulation is a new trend.  Before Europeans arrived with their guns, approximately eight deer could be found per square mile across the United States.  By 1900, though, we had nearly hunted the deer to extinction, with only about one deer being found in every ten square miles.  In southwest Virginia, deer were effectively absent.

A large herd of deer
Strict hunting laws and restocking slowly built the deer population back up over the course of the twentieth century, until suddenly the pendulum swung the other way into overpopulation.  Now, deer are especially prevalent in suburbs where they have plenty of well-watered lawns to munch on, and where they kill approximately 130 Americans per year by jumping in front of cars.

The problem is exacerbated by a lack of natural predators, a culture shift away from hunting, and by state game laws that cater to hunters and promote overpopulation.  Most state game management agencies still mandate strict limits on the number of does to be killed, a strategy that worked well when the deer were nearly extinct but now means that hunters make little dent in the deer population.  After all, it only takes one buck to fertilize a dozen does.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, for example, is currently working to increase populations of deer on public lands in southwest Virginia while stabilizing the population on private lands.

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