FACTS ABOUT DEER AND FENCES: DEER TICKS AND THE FENCE SETTING
Introduction to Deer Fence Facts
Deer Jumping and Motives
Deer and Small Animals
Deer Inside the Fence
The Deer Fence Setting
Back to Deer Fence Information (General)
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Besides damage to plants, another good reason to keep out deer is lyme disease. In the northeast US the small deer tick (Ixodes dammini) that spreads the lyme disease bacteria is transported mostly by deer. Where deer are excluded, the deer tick population will tend to die off, making it harder for the lyme disease bacteria to get around. That doesn’t mean the deer tick or the chances of a deer tick bite will vanish overnight, or that the potential for lyme disease transmission will disappear. But once the deer are removed, the deer tick population will generally begin to decline and over several years will tend to fall dramatically.
Regarding the setting, you need to think about both the area to be protected (the deer control area) and the actual line along which the planned fence will run. Barrier deer fences commonly protect large properties. That’s mainly because they are quite expensive to install; but they become relatively affordable if one has a large property to enclose, because then the length of fence becomes short relative to the deer control acreage protected.
In planning a deer fence, you also need to consider how the deer regard the deer control area. Do many deer customarily live there? Does it have an abundant food supply (especially in winter) that the deer know well? Does it have secluded or protected places where deer could congregate unseen along the fence line, or is all of the property to be fenced used by people or visable from buildings? Each of these factors can influence how eager deer may be to test your deer control barrier.
Finally, consider the fence line itself. An area covered with dense, woody brush will require clearing (see Clearing the Fence Path) along the fence line, raising the cost and difficulty of installation. However, deer fences in the open (where there is no tree cover) may be more visible to deer and are more commonly targeted for assault. Therefore, such fences should be stronger–being made of steel hexagrid, or if made of polypropylene being reinforced with monofilament line. The ideal site for such a fence, to the extent one is free to choose, is where there are plenty of healthy trees but the undergrowth is limited-see Using Trees as Posts. That makes deer fence installation relatively easy; but the deer will find that dappled shade and overhanging limbs make the fence less visible and a less inviting target.