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Final Report on Results of a Community Survey Regarding the Deer Issue ... large groups of deer; just over half of those who had deer in their yards said ...

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Final Report on Results of a Community Survey Regarding the Deer Issue in the Area Surrounding the Sifton Bog

Prepared for: The Steering Committee

Prepared by:Ms. Terry Green

Insights Inc.

Date:January, 2002


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Table of Contents

Executive Summary…………………………………………………………………………………… 3

Key Findings……………………………………………………………………………………………. 4

Description of the Research

Objectives………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8

Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

Analysis...…………………………………………………………………………………………………10

Research Results

Characteristics of Respondents’ Properties…………………………………………………………. 12

Extent to Which Deer Visited Properties: Frequency………………………………………………. 13

Extent to Which Deer Visited Properties: Magnitude………………………………………………. 15

Extent to Which Deer Visited Properties: Correlation With Characteristics

of Property……………………………………………………………………………………………16

Incidence of Deer Proofing……………………………………………………………………………. 17

Perceived Effectiveness of Deer Proofing……………………………………………………………18

Perception of Whether Deer in the Community Represented a Problem…………………………19

Perception of Change in the Deer Population………………………………………………………. 21

Concern With Various Aspects of The Deer Issue…………………………………………………. 22

Extent of Property Damage Due to Deer……………………………………………………………. 25

Unaided Comments……………………………………………………………………………………. 28

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Executive Summary

  • A mail survey of 255 households in the area immediately surrounding the Sifton Bog was conducted in November of 2001, in order to better understand the community’s perceptions of the impact of deer in their area.

  • The direct impact of the deer was limited, in that about half had never seen them in their yards at all. About a quarter - half of whom had yards which backed on the Bog - made frequent sightings, and 37% of the total sample had experienced property damage of some sort.

  • Nonetheless, the majority felt that deer represented a problem for their community even if they, themselves, had not been directly affected. The health of the Bog, and the health of the deer, were the greatest concerns for the community, followed by human health and safety issues.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Key Findings

  • Just over half of the respondents indicated that they never saw deer on their property, 23% reported rare sightings, and 24% said that deer visited their yards quite often (15%) or very often (9%). However, fully two-thirds of those who backed directly onto the Sifton Bog (and 20% of respondents had properties which did adjoin the Bog) indicated that deer often frequented their yards … compared to 14% of those whose yards did not back onto the Bog. The highest concentration of deer sightings was reported from the residential area to the west of the Bog, extending back to Santa Monica Road.

  • On average, the largest single sighting of deer on a property - for those who did see deer in their yards - was about 4. However, it was unusual for people to see large groups of deer; just over half of those who had deer in their yards said that the maximum number of deer they had seen at any one time was three or fewer.

  • Deer activity appeared to be inhibited by dogs and fenced yards … while those who had fruit trees, and those who fed the birds, tended to have a slightly greater extent of deer sightings.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Key Findings

  • About one in five households had made some attempt at deer proofing, typically as a reactive - rather than proactive - measure. Most were not enthusiastic about the success of their attempts (only a third gave high scores to the effectiveness).

  • The community felt that the deer population was static (31%) or growing (67%), and the majority felt that deer represented a problem for their community even if they, themselves, had not been affected. Specifically:

    • 61% felt that deer presented a problem for their community today, and 69% thought that they would be a problem over the next year;

    • 28% indicated that deer were currently a problem for them personally, and 41% expected them to be a personal problem during the next twelve months.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Key Findings

  • Health of the Sifton Bog was the top rated concern, relating to deer in the community; 81% of all respondents, and 87% of those who often saw deer in their yards, gave high scores to this item. Those who frequently experienced deer placed damage to vegetation next on their list of concerns (64% highly concerned), while this was near the bottom of the list for the community at large (28% highly concerned). Health and safety issues were high on the list for both groups (and, particularly, the health of the deer), and damage to structures was of relatively least concern (16% of the population, and 34% of those who saw deer, gave this high scores).

  • Overall, 37% of the respondents (and 95% of those who often saw deer on their property) had experienced some type of deer related property damage. Specifically, about a quarter of respondents - overall - had experienced damage to shrubs (27%) or flowers (25%); these numbers were much higher (80% and 71%) for the subset who often saw deer in their yards. In rank order, the next most frequently damaged property items were cedar hedges and other hedges, groundcover, lawns, and trees (reported by 13-19% of the population, and 41-55% of those who often saw deer). Vegetable gardens, fences and structures had the lowest incidence of deer damage.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Description of the Research


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Objectives

  • The Steering Committee, in conjunction with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, has been gathering information to assess management options for the Sifton Bog deer population. As one input, a community survey was undertaken in the residential area immediately surrounding the Bog.

  • The primary objective of the survey was to better understand the community’s perceptions of the impact of deer on the community. Specifically, the study addressed:

    • perceptions of whether the deer represented a problem - both now, and for the future - for the respondents and the community;

    • extent to which residents were concerned about various aspects relating to the presence of deer;

    • extent to which deer had been observed on residents’ properties, and extent to which various types of property damage had been experienced.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Methodology

  • In mid-November, 2001, a brief, two page survey was mailed to all residences in the area surrounding the Sifton Bog: that is, the area bounded by Oxford Street, Hyde Park Road, Riverside Drive and Sanatorium Road.

  • Of the 750 surveys (est.) which were mailed, 255 were returned by December 10 (due date of December 5, 2001, was indicated on the survey); this translates to a response rate of 34%.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Analysis

  • Following a meeting with the Steering Committee, Terry Green of Insights (an independent marketing research company) designed the questionnaire. It was distributed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority but returned directly to Insights, utilizing postage-paid envelopes which were included with the mailing.

  • In addition to the report, Insights prepared a detailed tabulation which has been provided under separate cover. It includes cross tabulations by:

    • frequency with which deer visited the respondents’ properties;

    • whether or not the responding household had tried deer proofing;

    • characteristics of the property.

  • The results for the total sample of 255 can be reliably extrapolated to the population, at a 95% level of confidence, within a range of plus or minus 6%, at worst.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Research Results


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Characteristics of Respondents’ Properties

  • In order to keep the questionnaire short and focussed, no demographics were collected, beyond postal code. However, a question was included to identify characteristics of the properties which might influence their attractiveness to deer. All questions in the survey were analyzed against these characteristics.

We will be organizing people’s answers by where they live, and by other characteristics of their property. Do you: have a yard backing directly on the bog….

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent To Which Deer Visited Properties: Frequency

  • Overall about half of the respondents said they never saw deer on their property, 23% reported rare sightings, and 24% said that deer visited their property quite often (15%) or very often (9%). However, fully two-thirds of those whose yards backed directly onto the Sifton Bog reported that deer often frequented their yards … compared to only 14% of those whose properties did not adjoin the Bog.

  • When the frequency of sighting deer was plotted by postal code, the highest incidence occurred in the residential area to the west of the Bog, extending back to Santa Monica Road. Although there were some reports of seeing deer often, from the code areas south of - and adjacent to - the Bog, the incidence of these reports was relatively low.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent To Which Deer Visited Properties: Frequency

Perceived Frequency of Deer Visiting Respondents’ Properties

Do deer visit your property: never, rarely, quite often or very often?

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent To Which Deer Visited Properties: Magnitude

  • On average, the largest single sighting of deer on a property (for those who did see deer in their yards) was 4.2. This was higher for those who backed on the Bog (5.3), and who saw deer often (5.8), than for those who did not back the Bog (3.4) or saw deer only rarely (2.3)

  • It was unusual for people to see large groups of deer on their property; just over half indicated that the maximum number they had ever seen at one time was three or fewer.

What is the largest number of deer you have had on your property, at any one time?

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent To Which Deer Visited Properties: Correlation With Characteristics Of Property

  • Although the frequency and magnitude of deer sightings varied most dramatically with the property’s proximity to the Bog, there was a small relationship to other characteristics as well. Dogs and fenced yards seemed to depress deer activity, while those who had fruit trees and fed the birds seemed to have a slightly greater extent of deer sightings.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Incidence Of Deer Proofing

  • Overall, some 19% of respondents had implemented some form of deer proofing. This behaviour was directly proportional to the frequency of seeing deer on the property; in other words, deer proofing seemed to be a reactive, rather than proactive, behaviour.

  • The main deer proofing techniques included fencing (12 of the 48 who had done deer proofing), use of sprays (10 people), burlap on shrubs (9), spreading human hair (7), and planting materials which were purported to be not attractive to deer (7).

Have you tried any techniques to “deer proof”, or dissuade the deer from coming into your yard? If yes: What did you do?

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Just over a third of those who had tried deer proofing rated it at the high end of the effectiveness scale. Those who had a lower incidence of deer (such as those who lived away from the Bog, had a dog, or rarely saw deer) seemed to be more satisfied with their efforts.

Perceived Effectiveness of Deer Proofing

Scoring of the Effectiveness of Deer Proofing, on a Five Point Scale

(n=39: those who tried deer proofing and responded to the question)

How effective have your efforts been?

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Perception of Whether Deer in the Community Represented a Problem

Proportion Who Felt That Deer Represented a Problem

61%

28%

69%

41%

  • As you may know, there are deer in the community surrounding the Sifton Bog. As things are today, do you feel that the deer represent a major problem, minor problem, or no problem for your community/you personally?

  • Thinking ahead to the next 12 months or so: if things continue as they have been, do you feel that the deer will represent a major problem, minor problem, or no problem for your community/you personally in the future?

  • Six of ten respondents felt that the deer population represented a problem for their community, at the present time … and seven of ten felt that it would be a problem for the community over the next year.

  • A much smaller proportion - 28% - saw deer as a problem at a personal level. However, some 41% felt that they, personally, would experience deer as a problem over the next year.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Perception of Whether Deer in the Community Represented a Problem

Proportion Who Felt That Deer Represented a Problem,

by Sub-Group

  • Concern with deer as a problem - both at a community and personal level - was higher for those who saw deer on their property more frequently and - by extension - for those who backed onto the Bog. The presence of dogs and fenced yards tended to dampen the perception of deer as a problem.

  • In general, however, over half of respondents saw deer as a problem for their community even if the impact on them, personally, was minimal.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Perception of Change in the Deer Population

  • The consensus was that the deer population was static (31%) or growing (67%). Fully 92% of those who saw deer often, and 74% of those who backed on the Bog, perceived that the deer population was increasing.

    Perception of Change in the Deer Population

    (n=227)

    From what you know, do you think that the deer population in your area is: increasing a lot, increasing a little bit, staying about the same, decreasing a little bit, decreasing a lot?

67%

a little a lot

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Concern With Various Aspects of The Deer Issue

  • For the community at large, the greatest concern relating to the deer issue, by far, related to the health of the Sifton Bog (81% expressed high levels of concern). This was followed by concern with the health of the deer (51% highly concerned ratings), human health (44%) and safety (43%), including the possibility of vehicular accidents involving deer (41%).

  • Overall, concern with personal property: that is, risk of damage to vegetation (28%) or structures (16%), or deer feces in the yard (22%) were of relatively lowest concern. However, concern with these issues increased with the respondent’s direct exposure to deer on their property.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Concern With Various Aspects of The Deer Issue

Note: additional concerns which were added by respondents included the possibility of deer falling into a pool in winter (3), deer predators (2), the possibility of shooting or poisoning deer (1), deer slaughter for political gain (1), general overreaction to the issue (1), and developers taking deer habitat (1).

There are many issues relating to deer living in an urban area. Considering the deer population in your community at this time, please circle the number which indicates how concerned you are with each of the following. The bigger the number, the greater your concern!

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Concern With Various Aspects of the Deer Issue

Rank Order of Issues of Concern, by % High Scores (4, 5 on 5 point scale)

  • Those who often saw deer on their property tended to have a higher level of concern regarding all aspects of the deer population (as compared to the community at large). While Bog health was the greatest concern for both groups, damage to vegetation was second for the sub-group who often saw deer … while it was near the bottom of the list for the entire population.

  • The rank order of issues, for those who rarely or never saw deer on their property, was the same as for the entire population.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent of Property Damage Due to Deer

  • Keys as a whole, 37% had experienced some type of property damage because of deer. Specifically, deer damage was reported by 3% of those who had never seen deer on their property, 56% of those who had rare sightings, and 95% of those who frequently saw deer in their yards. Of those who backed on the Bog, 82% reported damage of some type.

  • As for specific types of damage, approximately one quarter of respondents had experienced deer damage to shrubs (27%), and to flowers (25%). Cedar hedges (19%), groundcover (18%), lawns (16%), trees (14%), and other hedges (13%) were reported as the next most frequently damaged elements. Damage to vegetable gardens (7%), fences (4%) and buildings (1%) were less common. There were also single mentions of damage to pool liners, pool covers, pond flowers, bird feeders, and reference to deer hitting windows.

  • The incidence of various specific types of damage was approximately the same for those who saw deer rarely, and for the population. Those who saw deer often rank ordered their property damage in the same way, but experienced much higher levels of damage, particularly to vegetation (80% had shrub damage, for example).

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent of Property Damage Due to Deer

Reported Extent of Various Types of Specific Property Damage, Due to Deer

The purpose of this question is to determine whether deer have caused property damage for you. To what extent, if at all, have deer caused damage to your lawn….

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Extent of Property Damage Due to Deer

% Experiencing Damage, Due to Deer

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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Unaided Comments

  • When given the opportunity to record any other thoughts on the deer issue, about half of the respondents provided comments.

    • Overall, 11% of the total sample of 255 made a comment to the effect that deer were simply an aspect of life living close to the Sifton Bog, and should not be a cause for complaint.

    • On the other hand, 9% of the total sample indicated that the number of deer should be decreased, 7% suggested culling and donating the meat to charity, and 3% felt that the deer should be relocated as necessary… for a total of 18% spontaneously mentioning that the deer population should be decreased.

    • Some 3% suggested that all neighbours should fence their properties and 2% proposed central feeding at Sifton Bog.

Insights Inc. (519) 679-0110 December, 2001


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