Truro woman’s efforts to have colourful back yard hampered by invasive deer

Harry Sullivan
Published on June 10, 2014

Jean Clissold of Truro likes to watch the deer that often visit her back yard, such as the above-pictured buck she photographed in recent years. But she said people who are caught feeding the deer should have to pay a price for their deeds.


Harry Sullivan - Truro Daily News

TRURO  - A single teardrop appears from behind a welling eyelid.

It spills over the edge and slowly starts to run down her cheek as Jean Clissold, 85, surveys her beloved flower garden.

“I cry, very often. It just brings tears to my eyes,” the Truro woman says, of the damage caused by the ravenous deer that too often visit her colourful backyard.

“At one time I had a hundred and twenty nine different species, all over. Then, well, the deer come and they knocked them right down quite a bit,” Jean continues, in the strong British accent she has carried since arriving in the Truro area from Evesham, Eng., as a war bride in 1945.

Jean and her husband Arthur have lived in this particular location for 14 years and each gardening season finds her once again toiling in the soil in the quest of producing the backyard colour and variety she enjoys so much.

“I love gardening. I’ve been a gardener all my life,” she says smiling.

But, then there are the deer, which come to spoil her efforts.

“All this was just stumps. They went right through it, they ate every plant,” she says, of one section of garden. “They come through the fence there and the hedge and they just eat everything.”

Suddenly Jean’s face brightens as her attention is turned elsewhere, the pesky deer forgotten for a moment.

“But do you know what I’ve got now?” she says, smiling broadly, as she points to the trunk of a long-dead tree standing in her backyard.

“A woodpecker’s nest. Come and see here. Just over there. See that big ‘ole in the tree?” she says. “And he pokes his head out there. We’ve been watching him five days now making that hole in there. Isn’t it wonderful? I am so pleased. There he is. Isn’t that nice?”

Jean loves nature and the birds and wildlife it contains and while the damage the deer cause to her flower gardens may occasionally bring her to tears, she bears them no ill will.

“The Lord ‘ave made the deer to feed on whatever is available and in the woods and that is where they are supposed to be,” she says. “We are taking the deers’ property away from them. We keep building and knocking the trees down. So it’s our fault really.”

Jean also places a share of the blame for the urban deer issues on those who feed them.

“I think the people, they love the deer and they are feeling sorry for them. So they are feeding them and they will keep coming back to where they are fed,” she says. “I don’t feed the deer, I shoo them away.”

But while Jean may understand why some people choose to feed the deer that have become so accustomed to human presence that they will eat bird seed right off her back deck, she nonetheless believes some action should be taken.

“I do think they should be heavily fined if they do feed the deer,” she says. “They’re God’s animals and they were put here for a purpose. But we are taking their land from them. … . It’s our fault, really.”

Twitter: @tdn