Though I tried my hand at a vegetable garden again this spring, results have been less than bountiful. The past several years have been a challenge for me in the home-grown produce department, and the number of deer helping themselves to our backyard vegetation hasn’t improved the situation. I’ve been finding lots of nipped-off plant ends, and all of the low-growing apples have been taken from the tree.
We came home from a neighborhood bike ride on Saturday evening to find three young deer lounging on top of the backyard berm. When I stepped outside to shoo them away, I noticed two more deer standing about 15 feet from the three resting on the ground. None were startled by my presence though it was clear they weren’t interested in letting me get close, and they soon made their way out of the yard along the dry irrigation ditch.
Though the vegetables haven’t done too well, some of the other plants I’ve put in the yard are becoming more established and growing beautifully. Specifically, there’s a shrub called “blue mist” that’s now a favorite of mine for the way it draws the bees and butterflies.
I mentioned the blue mist last year when I wrote about a praying mantis that inhabited one of these shrubs and would come to the top of the bush to greet me every time I watered outside. This year, the blue mists are loaded with bees and are far and away the most popular plant in my yard for these busy pollinators.
Blue mist shrubs do well in our growing zone; they like plenty of sun and are drought tolerant. I see them in lots of yards along my neighborhood walks, and they are always full of the hum of pollinating insects. Another bonus is that the deer seem to take no interest in the blue mist’s leaves or stems, making it a keeper for my yard.
Precautions for living in proximity to wildlife.
Last week’s column about bear awareness prompted a conversation with one of my neighbors about a recent possible mountain lion sighting in the neighborhood.
Since deer are a main source of food for mountain lions, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they are nearby given the presence of the local herd. Mountain lions are solitary animals that tend to stay away from areas populated with humans and encounters are rare, though precautions can be taken to further reduce the likelihood of one taking place.
Some of these precautions are similar to those taken for bears: remove trash, birdseed, pet food, fallen fruit, and other attractants from your yard or property and ensure garbage is secured and inaccessible to a hungry animal. These things can also discourage deer visits. Keep livestock in secured buildings at night. Consider motion-activated lights and sprinklers, as these may act as deterrents and scare a mountain lion away.
Supervise children and pets when outside and come indoors between the hours of dusk to dawn, which is when mountain lions are most active.
Should you come across a mountain lion, keep your distance and do your best to back away slowly, as turning to run may activate the lion’s instinct to chase. Try to appear larger; wave your arms slowly and speak in a firm tone. Throw anything you can at an aggressive mountain lion so long as you can do so without crouching down or turning your back. The Nevada Department of Wildlife advises that you want to “convince the lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to the lion.”
Log onto this NDOW webpage for more pointers about living in proximity to mountain lions: ndow.org/blog/living-with-mountain-lions/. As the site says, “With a better understanding of mountain lions and their habitat, you can coexist with these magnificent animals.”
Amy Roby can be reached at email@example.com.