Deer and Other Animals

If you live in Forest Home you will see many animals. Regular sightings of large animals include deer, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, turkeys, and more. The bird life is always fascinating and Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology is close by.

Deer in Cayuga Heights

Deer in Cayuga Heights

Unfortunately, it is possible to have too much of a good thing and we have far too many deer.  On the roads, they are a hazard both to themselves and to the traffic; they eat the plants in our yards and the young saplings in the woods.  To quote Bernd Blossey, a Cornell  professor who is an expert on deer management, “Their overabundance has taken away their cuteness.”

Cornell’s Botanic Gardens have a long-running feud with deer.  One of their successes is a sturdy fence that protects eight acres of the Wild Flower Garden.  A proposal to build a fence around the entire arboretum was less successful.  Members of FHIA were among those who argued for the value of the arboretum as an open area used by the public.

Shrubs in the Park are protected by deer fences

Shrubs in the Park are protected by deer fences (Caroline Arms 2018)

The worst problem is Lyme disease, which is transmitted by deer ticks.  Although the biology is not fully understood, it is generally agreed that large concentrations of deer are correlated with this unpleasant disease.  Various ways to the reduce the deer population have been tried, but the only effective way is by regular culling.  The Town of Ithaca and our neighbors in Lansing, Cayuga Heights, and Cornell now carry out regular culls.  Since we are surrounded by university land, Forest Home is an integral part of Cornell’s deer management.