Keep the deer – End the creeping urbanization

There comes a point in life when the thunder of traffic loses its charm. That’s when you and your family find a quiet place where skies are blue, not khaki-colored, and the only things running by your front door are children, dogs, and deer.

DangerousdeerUnfortunately for those of us who made this transition to a rural retreat, there is a new breed of settlers who want to bring their big city habitats with them.

In Lake Monticello, the latest plan on the books is to hire professional hunters to kill the deer that run wild in our thousand-acre sanctuary. The clueless planners behind this scheme feel that deer are dangerous because they get hit by cars and they eat whatever you plant.

I was so impressed with the brilliance of this plan that I wrote a letter to the editor of the Fluvanna Review. This morning, the editor called and asked if I would let them publish it. That made my morning, of course, so here is the letter in all its glory, my response to the recent efforts to "manage" our deer:

To the Editor: Keep the deer – End the creeping urbanization

We came here 2 years ago because Lake Monticello offered a truly rustic and private environment. We fell in love with the place when we saw deer wandering the streets just as they do in Pacific Grove, CA.

The increasing number of million dollar homes with manicured lawns signals a marked shift in our Lake culture. It is amazing how people will leave the tidy suburbs of New Jersey or Northern Virginia and try to recreate those suburbs in the rolling hills of Fluvanna County.

Obviously the deer have to go, because they eat the prize ornamentals that the new settlers have planted. I suppose the bears and raccoons are the next to be targeted.

Why stop with these halfway measures? Let’s cut down the trees, put in astro-turf and sidewalks. When we get done, everything will look nice and tidy, just like the places we came here to get away from.

Deer and speeders don’t mix. Since we can’t get rid of the speeders who careen down our winding roads, by all means get rid of the deer.

I do not oppose change. I question the urbanization that others seem to think is desirable.

It is a one-way transformation. Once the wildlife is gone, it won’t come back and we might as well be living in Arlington.

Gretchen and I feel that places like Floyd and Burke’s Garden, both in southwest Virginia, are looking more attractive every day. If we cannot stem the tide of this gentrification movement, they will be putting in sidewalks and we will have to wear designer jeans when working in the yard.

Are we alone in experiencing this? Is anyone else seeing this gradual transformation to suburban conformity?

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0 Responses to Keep the deer – End the creeping urbanization

  1. Brian says:

    You’re not alone. But in my neck of the woods, or lack thereof since they keep cutting down the trees, they are throwing up as many matchstick homes as they can on any spare acre of land. Its quite disheartening.

  2. Jastle says:

    You did not fall far from the tree after all! Well said, and yes, she would be proud of you.

  3. Char says:

    Bully for you!! Great letter. I got to thinking… Wouldn’t it be a rather warped hoot if the deer decided that WE were “getting out of hand” and had to be “managed”. What would they do, do you think? Put out baits containing barbeque, find a NASCAR race on a big screen telly and lie in wait ready to pick us off one by one? I look forward to seeing your letter in the Review. For those who live here in Fluvanna and are outraged by the LMOA Board’s direction, please, please, please contact the Lake Monticello Board of Directors, 41 Ashlawn Boulevard, Palmyra, VA 22963. The more outrage they hear, the less easy it will be for them to say nobody seemed to care.

  4. Gerry Wickman says:

    Hi,I am the mother of Char Wickman.. I Live in Tufton. I am from Vermont My husband and I are only here because Char urged us to come down and live near her. The big draw card….deer, cardinals, vultures, pileated woodpeckers etc. etc.. I sat on my porch during our first year here (smoking…bad), but saw incredible deer interactions. Mother and 2 fawns right down in front of me…while I talked to mom deer. Mother had lost one of her fawns and I watched as she followed the trail, found the fawn and they met. It was beautiful. Saw Mother deer observe a new addition to a neighbor’s lawn. She approached..sniffed…decided it wasn’t a threat and went back to babies and brought them onto the lawn. I will never erase these images from my memory. They were fantastic. Thank you so much for posting your letter on your web site. I hope you have so many hits that you can’t keep up. Thanks again for caring. Gerry Wickman

  5. peter caputa says:

    I would question the correlation between speeding and deer related accidents. I’ve seen deer run into cars going 15 mph.

    I don’t have an ideal solution for this problem either, but I do think you haven’t collected all of the facts. Devoid of natural predators, deer have populated rural and suburban areas well beyond their normal natural numbers.

    Controlled hunting allows those populations to be brought back to normal numbers, as their natural predators would. This also happens to be good for reducing deer related accidents. I doubt that the fewere deer will stop eating juniper bushes, though. That’s like asking you to eat your brussel sprouts before eating your steak.

    I have been told this hunting is also good for the health of the deer population as well, since it reduces the chances of diseases spreading or weaker/less healthy deer from mating and passing on their genes. (I don’t have the facts for this, but If you want to be an expert, you may consider researching this.)

    The best answer is probably to bring back the coyotes and mountain lions. But, then you wouldn’t be able to let your grandchildren outside to play. But, maybe that’s a risk you’d be willing to take for sake of the deer and your perception of natural rural living?

  6. David Robarts says:

    Creeping urbanization is a problem. Perhaps naturalists will agree with Peter on controlled hunting, but that doesn’t change the creeping urbanization that plagues most communities that people move to for the very reason you have. Many people think they can have their cake and eat it too. They want to live in a nice rural community with all the conveniences of city life. Our model of a city has gradually changed from a dense urban center to a sprawling metropolitan area. We don’t have true suburbs anymore; instead low density cities eat up open space. The thing that I find amazing is how much it costs to live in dense population centers. One would think that sharing the land with so many people would reduce the cost of housing, but often a nice apartment in the city is more expensive than a suburban house.

    Some reasons driving the problems:

    Low cost of automobile transportation – our highway infrastructure could be considered subsidized transportation systems – charge people based on the miles they drive to pay for the highways.

    Tax breaks for interest on home loans – this amounts to a subsidy for those who can afford to get out of renting. At least in CA the state income tax has a renter’s credit.

    Planning on a community level rather than regional – older suburbs resist development, attempting to maintain their community as it is – newer suburbs compete to get lucrative retail establishments, needing the tax money to build their infrastructure.

    “The American Dream” of owning a piece of land and having dominion over it. A house on a postage stamp lot is more attractive in American culture than an apartment or condo with convenient mass transit, parks, jobs, and shopping.

    I’m sure there are many more reasons that drive our sprawling urbanism. Solving the problem is another issue.

  7. david parmet says:

    We live in a town with two acre zoning and strict wetlands and tree preservation rules but that still doesn’t stop the boneheads from cutting down trees, bulldozing hills, damning up streams and putting homes in the stupidest places (at the bottom of a drainage gully – right around the corner from us).

    For someone in a million dollar home – the fines for violating the wetlands rules are pocket change unfortunately.

  8. janet says:

    well i live on a road populated with deer, i drive slow and with caution in the evening because i know the deer have to cross. there are no deer crossing signs ,but i have the common sense to know that they will be there. i also came across a baby fawn in the middle of the road,of course i stopped,i blew the horn and he didnt move, i got out and tryed to shoo him out of the road,still he didnt moove. my husband picked him up and put him in the ditch so he would go back in the woods(there were ditches on both sides)we watched him to see, and he came back in the road,we tryed several times to make him go in the woods,he wouldnt,maybe his mom was killed nearby, or there, all i know is the way people drive that he was shure to die by a car.we took him home,i had to dropper feed him till he learned to suck a bottle.i was serching for a good home for him,i thought i found one till i found out they were deer farmers! i was so upset! i kept him a month,i made him a healthy buck, then i gave him to someone who had a deer/turtle santuary,where he lives a healthy life.there are deer in my yard every day, i love them, how can people kill and eat them! they are a beautiful sight! and i had a once in a lifetime oppertunity with a deer and got it! the deer looked at me as momma,as i nurished him back to can they keep overpopulating subdivisions where deer already have their oun homes? of course they will cross the road,and eat peoples manacured lawns,thats where the live,and man tried to drive them away. i hope the deer drive them away and run over them! the baby deer was named Rudolph Valentino.

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