The Beautiful Ratbags
|roe doe in late October; note canny cage on right, protecting olive|
At first it appears that Dama dama or fallow deer are not indigenous to our region, for they were not in Chianti during the childhoods of older people alive today, when, I have been assured, the only large mammals were hare, fox and badger. Even the porcupine was introduced relatively recently; hence the current dearth of giaggioli, common irises, which used to fill the surrounding countryside, for porcupines adore tubers.
|roe deer fawn (roe is the original Bambi) hidden in undergrowth by doe - this location is surprisingly close to our house|
It seems that deer in Britain have reached such pestilential proportions that they are altering the landscape and the vegetation. I observe this here. Not only does deer nibbling reduce the size and vitality of much undergrowth in the woods, it is probably eliminating some species entirely. Deer numbers in our area have increased to such an extent that they are devastating vineyards and olive groves, to the despair of the farmers.
What's to be done? In our own small way we fight back: we grow aromatic plants which the deer do not like; we protect all vulnerable plants including fruit trees with strong cages of wire netting; we segregate our roses in the vegie patch. One of the reasons we may get dogs is that they keep the deer away. Ultimately we dream of erecting a fence around our garden area. And of course, some highly regulated culling is carried out by the powers that be.
"Suddenly, for the first time in eleven thousand years, hundreds of thousands of square miles in the heart of the white-tailed deer’s historic range were largely off limits to one of its biggest predators. Suddenly, an animal instinctively wary of predators, including Homo sapiens, found itself in a lush habitat where major predators—drivers being the exception—didn’t exist."
|another roe deer doe at Le Ripe|