By Tami Schlies
I have a few trees in my front yard that have, of necessity, been planted without moose protection. Starting every August, I have moose cycle through my yard like clockwork every five or six weeks until May. My orchard in the back is protected by the fence around my chicken yard, and seldom have the moose even tried to reach over the fence for a nibble. I think my ducks might think they scare off the hungry moose with their loud “Whaa whaa whaa” whenever moose come around. Maybe they’re right, since the fence is just 6’ deer fencing attached to pound in posts. Moose would have no problem pushing the fence down if they really decided to try. Or, in a big snow year, even stepping over for a bite. Last year, a moose walked along the back of the fence, the higher side, and nibbled off the tops off all the branches in reach, but never pushed against the fence, knock on wood. I hope it remains so this year.
After talking to several people about moose repellants, I thought about using a product called “Plantskydd.” Many people swear it is the best product around, but being the cheapskate I am, I cringe at the price. With the number of trees I need to protect, and the necessity to reapply every so often, and the rumors about the smell of the product if it gets on your clothes, I looked into other options. The main ingredient of Plantskydd is actually animal protein in the form of blood meal. I use blood meal pretty regularly as a nitrogen source for my garden and trees, and never thought of it as a moose repellant. Maybe that is why the moose stay away May through July, when I fertilize, and by the end of the season, the smell has dissipated.
As a form of cheapskate study, I happened to have come into possession of a quantity of hog blood this fall (Yes, my son’s 4-H project is finally over. The pork chops are delicious.) Though the fresh blood was spread throughout the front yard where the unfenced trees are, moose still came through that very same night and severely pruned the branches. Therefore, I can definitely say fresh pig blood does not deter moose. Perhaps the stink described by users of Plantskydd is needed to deter the creatures.
An article on deer repellant written by Ken Konsis in Illinois compared several products, including Plantskydd, as well as mechanical controls for a butternut tree plot. While the Plantskydd and other products did seem to at least somewhat deter deer from browsing, I found it quite interesting that the final recommendation, based on effectiveness, time involved, and cost, was to use good old “Dial” soap suspended from the trees. Needless to say, this here cheap skate now has a bar of soap suspended inside a panty hose from every tree. I’ll let you know how that goes! If you’d like to read the article mentioned above, you can access it online at www.walnutcouncil.org/deer_repellent_study.htm