I don't live in the city limits of Chapel Hill, so I have no opinion on what the town should/should not do regarding the deer pressure for the residents. I don't have a vote there. Nonetheless, I do empathize as it is a sensitive and controversial topic on both sides of the deer fence.
My gardens (and house) began as acres of meadow and woodland. When we bought this property we knew deer would be a problem. They slept in the meadow every night before we built, and still sleep there every night since. I had to become an expert in deer resistant gardening and landscaping.
During our first year (2005), we counted twenty deer crossing our front meadow at the same time. Every year since, 3-5 fawns have been born here.
Last night as my husband and I were pulling into the neighborhood and had to wait for a few deer to cross the road, we remarked at how we recognize those deer! No, we haven't named them. We don't love them. We don't hate them. We had to learn to co-exist.
Now, imagine that you've lived in your neighborhood for many years without any deer damage to your landscape. You never had to worry about deer resistant shrubs and you could grow deer delicacies like hostas and roses.
As deer populations grew and as neighborhoods, businesses and roads took up more and more land, the deer moved into your previously deer-free yard in search of food. Your landscape is being picked clean by deer. The costs are huge and the emotional upset runs deep.
There isn't one solution for protecting existing landscapes. It may take a combination of methods that include fencing, herd culling, repellents and/or replacing shrubs and plants with deer resistant varieties. None of which are inexpensive.
The point that I've learned from this is - things change with the forces of nature. Wind, rain, drought, ice... and animals.
Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.