tree damage from deer #435607

Asked November 29, 2017, 4:26 PM EST

My daughter has severe tree damage from deer in her yard. We are wondering how to protect the trees from further damage and, more importantly, can they be saved?

Ramsey County Minnesota

Expert Response

This type of damage is seen when deer rub the velvet off their antlers - a common occurrence in late fall / winter. You can protect trees by encircling them with fencing. Depending on the trunk length and where on the trunk the first branches are located, encircle the trunk with hardware cloth about 4-6 ft high and away from the trunk about 6" - further away is fine. In fact, since deer will also browse on young branches of trees, you may want to completely enclose your small trees in a circle of fencing about 6-8' tall.

The first tree pictured is very young and very damaged. I would say this is the least likely of the three trees to survive. The second appears slightly older and a little less damaged, but it too may struggle. The 3rd tree does not appear as badly damaged and will likely survive though it will have scarring where the deer rubbed. Whether the deer rubbing has damaged the cambium layer (located just beneath the bark) and the severity of the damage will determine if the tree will die. The cambium layer contains vessels that move water and nutrients throughout the tree from the roots. If damaged, the tree will likely die or at least a part of it will die.

Protect the trees with fencing now, and then begin watering them in spring (depending on rain). Watch for new leaves / new growth in the spring. You'll have to assess how the plant looks and any long term branch dieback caused by the rubbing. You may need to replace the trees in the spring.

Julie Weisenhorn Replied November 29, 2017, 4:44 PM EST
Thank you for your response.  The smaller tree to the left is a Northstar Cherry tree.  The two other pictures are of the same tree, which is a Manchurian Alder tree that I planted in the spring of 2015.  It is quite large for it's young age and would be the hardest to lose.  
The Question Asker Replied November 30, 2017, 11:50 AM EST
I would plan for a new cherry tree. Keep a close eye on the alder next spring. Keep it as stress-free as possible. Water it as needed. If planted in turf, remove the turf and mulch the root zone (dia. of mulch ring about 6 ft). Protect the alder trunk this winter with fencing. Bury the fencing edge about 2" to prevent small critters from going under the fencing to browse. Hope this helps!
Julie Weisenhorn Replied November 30, 2017, 11:58 AM EST

Loading ...