"Nature is what shapes and changes a person into something better."

— Evita Benevides

Creek House notes

It finally happened.

Nearly 15 years after we installed a deer fence around the richly planted front acre of our property, a family of deer visited the gardens through a gate inadvertently left open. We were away, so they enjoyed several days of feasting before the cat sitter noticed them. On her next visit, she located the open gate and the deer family just outside it. She quickly closed the gate and notified us.

However, all was not well.

On a later visit, the cat sitter noticed a fawn, still inside the fence, lying down under a large tree. She saw no blood or other sign of injury, and it was still breathing. But it did not move. Of course, she alerted us immediately. About to start our day and a half drive home, we anxiously debated about what to do. At a friend’s suggestion, we called the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the agency responsible for the management of wild birds and mammals and their habitats. They said someone would visit when we got home.

Deer decision

Because encounters with deer in our yards and on local roads are not uncommon, it is important to know about the PA Game Commission resource.

The Southeast regional office is in Reading where there is a dispatcher at an information center who responds to “wildlife concern” calls like ours. A deputy state game warden promptly responded to our call when we got home. He said that issues such as ours have a high priority.

I showed him the fawn where it still lay, barely breathing. He studied the situation carefully and mentioned that there are no nearby wildlife rescue/rehab centers and that the fawn clearly was in pretty dire straits. He determined that it should be put down and gently explained that he would do it with his sidearm. He noted that only Game Commission officers are legally permitted to euthanize wildlife. After I heard the shot from indoors, I met him outside again where he was preparing to remove the fawn’s body out to the wetland far from the house to decay naturally. A sad experience for all of us.

For more info, visit pgc.pa.gov or call Southeast Region office at 610-926-3136.

Fall Checklist

• Leaves removed from lawn and stored for future mulch or compost?

• Non-weatherproof ceramic pots and ornaments indoors?

• Gasoline drained from mower and weed trimmer (you might still use the chainsaw)?

• Firewood moved closer to the house, protected from rain and snow?

• Birdfeeders cleaned and refilled?

• All bare soil on the property covered with mulch — pine needles, wood chips, chopped leaves?

• Gutters cleaned?

• Hardy bulbs for spring bloom planted?

• Tools cleaned and stored?

• Liquid fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals stored where they will not freeze?

• Building foundations checked for holes where rodents can enter?

Yardener accidents

You guessed it! The most common serious ones tend to involve tree care.

A recent analysis conducted by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) confirms how hazardous it is for homeowners to attempt to do tree care work themselves. Do-it-yourselfers underestimate the risk of tackling serious tree pruning and takedowns. They lack training, proper equipment and situational awareness. Of the 60 or so accidents noted in the study, 46 homeowners were struck by the tree or tree limb, three were struck by their chainsaw, nine fell from trees or ladders, one was electrocuted and one lost a limb in the chipper. The oldest victim was 83, and the youngest was a 2-year-old who was watching his dad cut down a tree that fell the wrong way, killing him. Apparently, in two-thirds of the incidents in the study, homeowners undertook the hazardous tree projects without anybody to spot for them, assist them or advise them that it was too dangerous.

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

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