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October 18, 2020 3 min read

Do deer eat tree bark? They do alongside many other parts of the tree. In this article, we will share insights on how deer can lead to tree damage and what you can do about it.

Deer eat a lot of things. Therefore, when asked the question, “do deer eat tree bark?” the answer is, “yes, they do.” In reality, deer do not only eat the bark but foliage, buds, stems, and fruits of trees. They can stand on their hind legs, and browse through trees about 7 feet high.

They can also rub their antlers against tree trunks causing which removes a full cycle of bark that girds and further kills the tree in the process. Deer browsing can cause deforestation, especially because they eat more during summer as they prepare for winter. However, there are some protective measures you can use to fortify your garden’s defenses. Let’s look at some of them.

Install fences

The best deterrent you can use is a fence. However, deer can also jump, so you need an 8-foot fence to keep them from jumping. Some deer have been known to jump as much as 12 feet, so we recommend using fences that make it difficult for them to know where they can land. Use two parallel walls of 4 to 6 feet high (with 4 to 5 feet in-between). When they aren’t sure of how they land, they won’t jump.

Understand resistant and vulnerable plants

Bear in mind that deer can eat just about anything, but some plants are more edible than others. Therefore, it would be helpful to cultivate resistant plants around your property and less palatable within these rings. Always bear in mind that when deer are really hungry, they can eat everything, which means your less palatable plants may soon become food for them. Some less palatable plants you can use include boxwood, yarrow, sages, lupines, pungent herbs like fennel, lavender, oregano, thyme, and chives. Also, look up vulnerable trees, to recognize which plants should be within cycles of the less palatable ones.

Animal repellents

You can also use animal repellents as effective deterrents. Deer are usually wary of unfamiliar tastes or smell. However, they can quickly adapt and go back to eating from that alien scented tree. Therefore, the best way to use repellents is by alternating between scents to prevent that adaptation. Rains also wash away these repellants, so you must reapply again.

Furthermore, you can make your own deer repellent spray by using concentrated urine from predator species. This includes cougar, bobcat or coyote urine. Regular dog urine or droppings can also repel deer.

Using technology

You can also use noise alert systems. These systems have a specialized motion detector and buzzer that quickly detects their presence and releases an alarm. The noise will effectively scare them off. Some experts also talk about wrapping chicken wire around the lower five feet of a tree trunk. These may keep them from rubbing their heads against the side of the tree. However, it may not deter them from still reaching up to eat the fruits, twigs, buds, and even leaves of the tree.

Do deer eat bark? They do, alongside other parts of the tree and can cause extensive damage. Erect two parallel fences, plant resistant trees at the outer areas, use repellents or technology. We recommend using a mix of these methods as a more effective way to deter deer from your property.

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