it a good thing that two Sitka black-tailed deer have been
seen wandering around the Anchorage Bowl? I don't think so,
and this is one gardener who is not afraid to express his
opinion: Sitka black-tailed deer have no place here. They
may be small, but deer eat like locusts. And they can breed
can understand folks having a nanosecond of fascination with
the idea that these animals made their way from the Prince
William Sound area, over Turnagain Pass and into foreign territory.
First seen near Potter Marsh, they are apparently now residing
on the other side of town at Kulis Air National Guard Base.
However, it really shouldn't take any more time than that
to snap back to reality and remember we already have enough
garden and landscape problems as a result of moose. Please,
someone get rid of these visitors. Now.
it turns out, Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus
sitkensis) are not a part of the Bowl's ecosystem. In fact,
the Sitka black-tailed deer isn't even natural to the Prince
William Sound area, having been released for hunters by a
territorial governor in the '20s. So no one need have any
problem with the idea of simply rounding up these two intruders
(and any others that may happen to turn up) and either let
them join the five presently residing at the Alaska Zoo or
give them the proverbial "blue ticket" out of here
to wherever they want to go as long as it is far, far away.
are very much like moose. They eat vegetative matter. They
are also very different. One difference is the ease with which
they become tame. Moose are pretty skittish and will eventually
succumb to yelling, throwing snowballs and the like. Not deer.
They would walk into the middle of a car accident while it
was happening if they were used to eating out of a nearby
deer are much less fussy than moose when it comes to finding
things they like to eat. In the winter, they are generally
restricted to eating evergreens and woody material such as
bark and lichens. During the warm months, however, they eat
green leaves, having tired of winter fare. Some even dig and
eat spring-flowering bulbs. They'll try anything once, and
that's often enough to destroy everything in your garden.
black-tailed deer are not nibblers like moose. They eat things
to the ground, hardly using their teeth, preferring instead
to let microbes in their stomach do the hard work. For goodness'
sake, I promote the importance of microbes in the garden more
than anyone else, but not in deer stomachs.
apparently are the only major predator of these critters,
though occasionally a brown or black bear will try one for
a meal, so unless we are willing to establish a hunting season
in the Bowl, we have the potential of a large population of
landscape-eating deer with an increased number of wolves and
bears. Is there any reason to attract any more of these to
supporters of these deer won't be gardeners. It will be all
those who can't forget seeing "Bambi." The fawns
of these deer, born in the spring, are a mere 12 inches tall.
Cute? I'm afraid they will be to many who don't garden. And
with wolves in the picture, you can bet the Lower 48 press
will never let us fix a deer problem if they become established.
there's no logic to the wonderment of the news media over
the appearance of Sitka black-tailed deer in the Anchorage
Bowl, and it must stop now. If the deep snowpack, the lack
of which allowed them to get here in the first place, doesn't
cause their natural demise, we should demand that the powers
that be get rid of them before we can't.
Fish and Game if you see one of these 80- to 100-pound deer
so they can track them. However, finish your call with a request
that they be removed before it is too late. The time to act
Lowenfels gardens in Anchorage. He is a member of the Garden
Writers Association of America.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.