Monday, April 07, 2008

VIRGINIA NEWS: Deer Population Threatens Vinyards

The deer population is on the rise, and many experts say it's due to a number of different factors, like their high reproductive rate, the absence of predators, and the increased nutrition from several plants - including grapes vonifera grapes to be exact, and that's why vineyards are gearing up for this year's growing season.

"The deer fence will go right along through here," says Chris Breiner, who manages the Stone Mountain Vineyard. He says deer are becoming more and more of a problem, "In the past we had an electric fence right there and then we had garlic sticks and other things to keep them out, last year that did not work as well since there was nothing in the woods they were moving more."

As the deer population rises, Breiner has to think of other means to protect his grapes, so this past week, he came up with a different plan.

"This is the plastic deer mesh, it comes with a roll that's a hundred feet and eight feet tall, it's supposedly can withstand 900 pounds of pressure before it will tear or rip," says Breiner. He hopes that 1800 feet of fence will deter deer from feasting on his grapes, "Deer are claustrophobic, they have bad peripheral vision so they stay on the top rows and the bottom rows and they come in on the edges they will not really go along the rows because they are very skittish animals, although sometimes they do get in there and panic"

Breiner's customers depend on the quality of his grapes, so keeping deer out is a huge priority.

"They were just on the move more we spent way too many man hours keeping them out, we probably lost, I estimate, last year 6 to 7 tons of fruit to the deer damage," says Breiner.

According to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, deer vehicle collisions and deer damage to agricultural and residential property continue to increase in the Commonwealth.


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