The battle between Michigan deer and cherry trees

Michigan cherry capitalIt would be an understatement to say that cherries are important to Michigan culture and its economy. Traverse City, for example, prides itself on being the “Cherry Capital of the World.” Not only does it host the National Cherry Festival, the city makes the world’s largest cherry pie. Michigan, you can argue, is a cherry-producing machine! With that said, cherry trees are of the utmost importance to many Michiganders. Unfortunately, many cherry trees are in danger…from deer.

Picture yourself as a cherry farmer. It is early, early morning and you step out onto your back porch, cup of hot coffee in hand, to breathe in the sun-drenched air and get ready for the grueling day. In the distance, you see a young buck rubbing its antlers against the base of one of your cherry trees. You can just hear the abrasions. It is not music to your ears. You sigh and take a big gulp of coffee. You wonder what the tree damage will be.

In the article, “Michigan county that counts on cherries fighting a battle with deer,” Glenn Puit of The Record-Eagle writes, “Don Gregory, who has farmed his family’s fruit orchards in Leelanau County for four decades, is quite familiar with the challenge of keeping deer away from his prized cherries.” While accustomed to keeping deer at bay, the fight is more intense this year. Large bucks are numerous and performing an act called buck rub (or deer rub), which involves rubbing their antlers against the trees. This strips the bark, often ruining the trees causing problems for cherry production. If cherry production is halted in any which way, the whole state will feel it.

Such tree damage is on the way up and many are pointing the finger at Quality Deer Management. Quality Deer Management protects young deer from hunters until they come of age. It is a great thing. Specific areas in the state are designated safe spots, with Leelanau County being one of them. More safe spots are popping up, but many are worried that more trees will be damaged.

However, cherry farmers understand the importance of managing deer, but some cannot afford fencing, which many deem a possible solution to the problem of deer rub. There are advocates on both sides and while each side makes a strong case, there is hope that a solution will be made satisfying both. After all, cherries and bucks are equally important to not only Michigan’s economy, but its identity as well. At Cold Stream Farm, we recognize the importance of both and will gladly assist in coming up with a beneficial solution.

For more information on the situation, you can find Puit’s article here.

*Image courtesy of Benjamint444, edited by Fir0002