Gustavson: In the end, the deer will outlive us all

03/02/2014 6:00 AM |
Deer on the East End. (Credit: James Colligan)

Deer on the East End. (Credit: James Colligan)

We surrender. Bambi has won the war. The several thousand dollars we invested in new landscaping in our back yard is slowly but surely serving as the outdoor salad bar that sustains Bambi and her mates during The Wicked Winter of 2013-14.

Troy Gustavson

Troy Gustavson

As a self-professed lover of nature, I suppose we could be happy about helping to sustain the herd, but we are anything but (happy). We are pissed. But unless we are prepared to take the law (and my Mossberg pump-action shotgun) into our own hands, apparently there is nothing substantive we can do about it short of erecting a steel fence around the perimeter of our yard.

We’ve tried heavy-duty plastic/ polyresin deer fencing and it seemed to work for a while. But then, apparently, Bambi or one of her mates crashed through the fence by mistake, realizing in the process that it was readily penetrated, then passing the word to all their four-footed friends. And then, of course, the snow and wind that have typifi ed this winter also conspired to compromise our fl imsy fence. Enter Bambi & Friends, stage left — again and again and again.

If this were the Adirondack Mountains, where our family has a little off-the-grid cabin, this would not be an issue. There you’ll fi nd more than enough open space to keep deer from overwhelming the immediate landscape.

But here on Long Island’s narrow North Fork, farmers and grape growers have finally wised up with some serious steel deer fencing of their own, funneling the herds into our villages and neighborhoods. And with no natural predators other than SUVs, the deer are free to reproduce like, well, bunnies.

As I’ve written in this space in the past, in a typical week we see more deer walking down Village Lane in Orient than we see in a month in the high-peaks region of upstate New York.

Short of transforming our entire ’hood into a DMZ (Deer Management Zone) with eight-foot-high steel fencing, what alternatives do we really have? Shelter Island-style four posters? Condom dispensers next to every salt lick? Re-introduction of mountain lions into Long Island’s ecosystem? Government sharpshooters? That last alternative once seemed most likely to succeed until recent indications that it could be tied up indefi nitely in the courts.

Since I wrote about this issue exactly a year ago, I’ve begun to lose hope that this menace will be eradicated in my lifetime.

Yes, the deer seem to have won. Which I suppose is only fitting. After all, they were here first, and it sure looks like they’ll still be here long after we’re gone.

Times/Review executive editor Grant Parpan recently reported on the local connections in episodes of television’s “Girls” (HBO) and “House of Cards” (Netfl ix). While I’ve watched both programs in the past, I now consider myself something of an expert on the latter program after having recently binged on all 13 episodes of Season 2 in less than a week. (Note to the uninitiated: with certain programs, particularly on services like Netflix and Hulu, all episodes of a single season are often released at once.)

In addition to the less-than-salutary reference to Long Island wines cited by Grant, there have been several references on “House of Cards” to the pork barrel project of all pork barrel projects: a proposed Long Island Sound bridge between Port Jefferson and Connecticut. The back story is too convoluted to detail in this limited space — although it does involve elements of Chinese-American diplomacy and big-time congressional infl uence peddling — but you may be pleased to know the plot thread was left dangling in the wind at the conclusion of Season 2.

I can hardly wait to see what happens with the bridge, but I don’t imagine I’m anywhere near as curious as the folks who run Cross Sound Ferry.

tgustavson@timesreview.com