Deer Issues

Do You Have a Deer Problem?

The information below will help you address many of the problems caused by deer and provide you with the options to address deer-related issues. The City of Avon Lake and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife believe in giving as many options as possible to deal with deer problems while taking into consideration the residential growth of our city and concerns of our residents.

Garden Damage     Landscape Damage      Tree Rubbing Damage      Deer Vehicle Accidents     Aggressive Deer Behavior     Artificially Feeding Deer     Orphaned Fawns     Removal of Deer Carcass

Need additional help?

Visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife for additional tips and information about ways to prevent wildlife nuisances or call the Division of Wildlife Officer at 330-245-3032.

Please note: Avon Lake fence ordinance prohibits some of the options suggested by the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

We recommend you use the techniques described above to help alleviate specific problems. However, if you believe more action must be taken, review the step-by-step guide [updated link needed] to acquiring a Deer Damage Control Permit and a Municipal Deer Control Permit.

Deer Survey 

As part of the Deer Management Plan for the City of Avon Lake, adopted May 9, 2016, the stated goals in Section 5 are: “Based on results of the annual Deer Control Survey (“DCS”), develop changes to the City Ordinances that will allow residents to construct effective deer exclosures to prevent damage to landscaping and gardens...”. The 2016 DCS serves as a base line of general public opinion regarding the issue of White-tailed Deer in the City of Avon Lake. Current Deer Survey results can be found here.

Garden Damage

Fences are an option to protecting your garden. The ODNR Division of Wildlife has numerous effective solutions, but some of the fencing solutions do not comply with Avon Lake’s fence ordinance. The City is currently working on developing options that are compliant and effective to preserve your garden.

Landscape Damage

Various sprays can deter deer from eating your plants. Keep in mind that if a deer is hungry enough and the deterrent is not strong enough, they may still eat your plants. A list of repellent products can be found in the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s “Deer Damage Control” publication. In areas where you regularly have deer damage it is recommended to choose plants that tend to be less palatable to the deer. A guide to plants, groundcover and shrubs that are rarely or never eaten by deer is also provided in the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Keep in mind, if a deer is hungry enough they can eat plants that are hard to chew, digest or that tastes bad. Sometimes this is all it takes for deer to go looking elsewhere for food.

Tree Rubbing Damage

Tree rubbing (often called buck rubs) occurs when either a buck is shedding the “velvet” off of their antlers or they are marking territory. There are two easy ways to address tree rubbing.

  • Install a triangle of posts around the trunk of the tree. Male deer will typically not rub their antlers on metal. If they do, the rubbing will be on the post and not your tree. This is only needed from September 1st to January 31st and can be removed the remainder of the year.
  • Use rigid tree bark protectors. These can be purchased at any home improvement store. Usually using protectors rather than wrappings will provide better results. Use these from where the trunk of the tree meets the ground up about 4 feet. These protect the tree if the deer would attempt to rub on it. In addition, this technique offers trees (especially young trees) protection from squirrels, rabbits, and rodents from chewing the bark which can kill the tree as well. If you use this method, it is recommended to keep the tubing on from at least October 1st to April 1st. However, these can be left on year-round if you wish. Once the tree begins to outgrow the tree bark protector, usually when the tree reaches 4 inches in diameter, make sure to remove it so that it doesn’t harm the tree as it grows. By that time, the tree will be large enough that most deer will avoid rubbing it.

Deer Vehicle Accidents

The best way to avoid deer collisions with your vehicle is to be alert for deer. While deer can and do move throughout the day, their primary movement times are at sunrise and sunset. Breeding season (October – November) and birthing season (May - June) are often times you should be extra vigilant in watching for deer along roadways. Hitting a deer can cause serious damage to your vehicle, but you run a higher risk of injuring yourself or someone else by swerving off the road. It is recommended to slow down if you see a deer crossing the road in front of you. If you need to stop quickly to avoid hitting a deer, hit your brakes while maintaining your vehicle in the lane in which you are driving. Remember, deer crossing signs are placed in areas throughout the city that have been identified as areas where deer regularly cross. However, deer can cross in front of you on any road throughout the city.

Aggressive Deer Behavior

While deer most times appear to be gentle animals, you must remember that they are wild animals that can be unpredictable. You should always give wild animals their space. If they feel threatened, they can easily cause injuries to humans or pets. If you notice a deer approaching you, make noise and wave your hands so that the deer knows you are there. If the deer continues to approach you, get inside and contact the Avon Lake Police Department at 440- 933-4567.

If you let pets outside, you should always scan the area prior to letting your pet out to ensure no deer are in the yard. Even dogs contained within a buried electric fence will chase after a deer. This is especially important during birthing season (May-June). Occasionally, a doe may perceive your dog as a threat to their fawn. 

Normal deer behavior is often confused with a deer acting aggressively. A normal deer reaction is to stomp the ground when they are unsure if something is a threat or not. When you unexpectedly find a deer in front of you, and freeze, the deer will stomp the ground to try to get you to move and determine if you are a threat. As mentioned above, make noise and wave your hands so that the deer knows you are there. The deer should within a few seconds turn and leave the area. Keep in mind that deer in cities regularly see and hear people; it is common for urban deer to not run away when they see a person.

Artificially Feeding Deer

Many people enjoy watching deer. An easy way to attract deer onto your property is with artificial feed. However, Avon Lake Ordinance 618.13(b) prohibits the feeding of any wild or feral animal. It states that “No person shall intentionally or recklessly provide food within the Municipality to any wild or feral animal so as to create noxious or offensive orders or unsanitary conditions, endanger health, comfort or safety of any other person, or contribute to the damage of real or personal property of any other person.”

Orphaned Fawns

Birthing season occurs between May – June, and it is not uncommon to find what appear to be orphaned fawns. In fact, a fawn is born without scent and left by its mother to afford them the best opportunity to not be found by predators. Never put bowls of food or water near fawns as that may attract the predators and give away their hiding spot. The best thing you can do is to leave the fawn alone. Usually by the next morning, the doe will have moved the fawn to a new area, again aiding in protection from the fawn being detected by a predator. Keep in mind it is never a good practice to handle wildlife and in the case of fawns, you might actually put the fawn at risk of predators.

Removal of Deer Carcass

To request the removal of a deer carcass from your yard, please call the Public Works Department at 440-930-4126. If it is in the roadway, please call the Avon Lake Police Department at 440-933-4567.

Step-by-Step Process for Avon Lake Residents to Deal with Deer Damage

  • Landowner recognizes they have a deer problem (flowers, bushes or property chewed, scat, garden & property damage, etc.).
  • Landowner reviews Deer Damage Control guide on ways to address the deer problem they recognized.
  • If the problem was not fixed using the Deer Damage Control  information, the landowner can call the Division of Wildlife Officer at 330-245-3032 to seek further guidance on their deer problem.
  • If a determination from the phone conversation between the resident and the Division of Wildlife or the Wildlife Officer is that a site visit is needed, a mutually agreed appointment will be made.
  • Based on that visit the Division of Wildlife may issue a Deer Damage Control Permit (“DDCP”), if so, within 15 days after receiving the DDCP the resident must fill out an application for a Municipal Deer Control Permit (“MDCP”) from the City of Avon Lake through the Avon Lake Police Department.
  • After submission of an application for a MDCP through the City of Avon Lake, a site visit will be made within 15 business days by the Chief of Police or his designee to determine if the property in the application is deemed a safe place to utilize the DDCP issued by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
  • If the resident is then issued a MDCP by the City of Avon Lake, they are able to utilize the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s DDCP while following all rules and regulations as set forth on both the Deer Damage Control Permit and Municipal Deer Control Permit.
  • Any deer killed under a MDCP must be reported to the Avon Lake Police Dispatch at 440-933-4567 within 24 hours of tagging the deer. All antlers must be turned over to a Wildlife Officer or division representative as outlined in Condition #14 of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Deer Damage Control Permit.