Building Deer Exclosures
for Park & Planning

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Photos by Sally Gagne

Update - July 2014

Ross Campbell, stream steward for Section 6, pointed out in June that the Parkside deer exclosure (Alpha) had deteriorated, and for continued use would have to be rebuilt. The metal posts had become rusted and wobbly, and the netting was torn due to fallen branches and vandalism. In recent months deer have been able to enter. After discussion with the Park deer manager, Rob Gibbs, who helped Friends of Sligo Creek erect the exclosure in 2004, it was removed in early July 2014.

A deer exclosure is an area of forest enclosed by a tall fence. Deer cannot get into this area to browse, so the deer exclosure vegetation can be compared over time with the vegetation outside the exclosure to measure the effect of deer on forest vegetation.

Park & Planning (Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for Montgomery County) has had materials for deer exclosures for several years, but lacked the resources to locate and build the exclosures. Friends of Sligo Creek worked with Rob Gibbs of Park & Planning to plan the site of two deer exclosures and, using the materials provided by Park & Planning, to build those exclosures. These exclosures will be maintained and monitored for 5 years by Friends of Sligo Creek. An annual survey of the vegetation inside the exclosure will be conducted and the results shared with Park and Planning.

Each deer exclosure is a 30 foot by 30 foot area of the park that is enclosed within an 8 foot high black plastic mesh fencing. The fencing is erected on existing trees or on metal stakes where appropriately placed trees do not exist. Midway on each side of the enclosure is another tree or stake for support of the fence. A plastic wire interweaves through the top row of the mesh fencing and is tightened to hold the top of the fence firmly between the posts. Small metal stakes secure the bottom of the fence to the ground to prevent animals from pushing under the fence.

Each deer exclosure has a keeper to monitor the condition of the fence, making repairs as needed. One deer exclosure, labelled Alpha, lies between Forest Glen Road and Colesville Road. Its keeper is Ross Campbell. The second exclosure lies above University Boulevard. Its keepers are Kathy Michels and Ed Murtagh. Sally Gagne will monitor the vegetation inside both exclosures and make the annual reports to Park & Planning.

Rob Gibbs from Park & Planning says that, in addition to hungry deer, vandals are the major danger to deer exclosures. The exclosures are almost invisible due to the thin black plastic mesh fencing. Worry over deer blundering into an almost invisible fence prompted the hanging of small bags of human hair from each side of the exclosure as an olfactory clue to the deer.

Following is a photo essay documenting the building of:
   Deer Exclosure Alpha - between Colesville and Forest Glen Roads
   Deer Exclosure Bravo - upstream from University Boulevard

Lay out the fence location

Red flags mark the fence location for Alpha

Set the steel posts - one at each corner, one midway on each side
Trees are used whenever possible. They are more secure.

Steve Smith and Bruce Sidwell drive a corner post
Clair Garman drives a wooden stake to brace a mid post

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