Monday, August 24, 2015

Holden Arboretum give deer the boot from institution's core area

While the Kirtland-based Holden Arboretum was all too happy to show deer the door, the welcome mat was strictly one way – and that way was out.

Today – August 24 - the 3,600-plus acre Arboretum took to the woods and fields of its 233-acre “core” area to skedaddle any white-tails found within the deer-forbidden zone.

More than 75 Holden staff, volunteers and Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel spent about an hour and one-half combing through the core zone.

It was their task to drive any animals lounging around in this unit, hoping to funnel the deer by wedging them between columns of heavy-duty wooden fence posts and three miles worth of eight-foot tall Tenax C-style fencing material.

The drivers were split into seven drive cells, each party assigned a set track to follow.

Their object was to motivate the deer to escape through five one-way portals. These planned-for escape route venues consisted of two so-called jump-outs and three escape gates.

Jump-outs are earthen inclines placed between fencing. The idea is that deer will run up a ramp and then leap the several feet to outside the deer enclosure. The experiences noted by other entities that’ve employed jump-outs indicate that deer are much less willing to go the other way.

Escape gates are specially designed structures that deer can press against in an outward direction but not inward, says Clem Hamilton, the Arboretum’s president and CEO.

At the heart of the core area’s deer enclosure design – which also includes specially designed metal grates across roadways that repel hoofed animals – is to protect the Arboretum’s extensive and unique plant gardens.

These gardens are popular attractions for members who pay reasonable annual dues as well as non-members who pay a daily rate.

Also, the Arboretum is in the process of a several year/multi-million dollar renovation and construction project that includes the recent addition of a 65-foot tall, 202 step wooden observation tower and a 500-foot long wooden foot bridge that is likewise suspended 65 feet above the ground and courses through the forested canopy.

Besides, Hamilton said, the deer had to go in order to protect the Arboretum’s extensive plant collections that include hundreds of rhododendron plants and a whole lot more floral deer candy.

“One thing I did hear from some of our members is that the fencing was not very attractive but I reminded them that we won’t have to fence the individual gardens,” Hamilton said. “Besides, we’ll now have valuable plant stock and trees that won’t become browse for hungry deer. I’d say that’s a pretty good tradeoff.”

As for how many deer were actually given their eviction notice the 80 or so drivers convinced less than a handful of whitetails to vamoose. Among them was a dandy in-velvet buck that took the cue and used one of the jump-outs to make good its escape.

“We really didn’t know what to expect but there were deer here in the core this morning,” said Holden police officer Tony Piotrowski. “It was a good effort and now we know the jump-outs and escape gates work.”

 Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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