Deer Eat Their Way Through Michigan Christmas Tree Farm

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by groveb via Getty Images)

The holiday season is here and with it, the twinkling lights, grinning snowmen, and jolly Santa Clauses dotting the yards of countless homes across the country, their owners filled with Christmas cheer. Anticipating the rising need, evergreen farms in every state are throwing open their gates, welcoming families eager to search the fragrant rows for the perfect centerpiece for their Christmas decor.

With the eternal scent of Christmas permeating row after row of thick, fluffy trees untouched by the dreary, colorless winter months, fir tree farms are pure magic. This holiday magic, however, does nothing to protect the enchanting rows from those who would rather see the fir trees destroyed than their limbs weighed down by tinsel and baubles in someone’s living room.

Now, at this point, it’s easy to imagine a scowling Grinch or a mythical creature with a distaste for joy. The culprit, however, is far less sinister. The primary threat to Christmas tree farms is, in fact, the humble deer.

Deer are entirely harmless – unless you’re a fir tree or other plant, that is. Deer can’t get enough of browse (leaves and twigs of woody plants), forbs (broad-leaved plants), mast (acorns, apples, etc), and grass. That’s in the literal sense, by the way. They can’t get enough. Deer eat anywhere from 6-8% of their body weight every day, meaning an average 150-pound deer can eat up to 12 pounds of food in a single day of foraging.

And those endless rows of magical, soft fir trees on a farm, far away from the dangers of predators and hunters? What could be better for a mother deer with fawns to feed?

Christmas Tree Farm Forced to Close Following Deer Demolition

While stumbling upon a Christmas tree farm likely seems an unbelievable gift to the deer, the hungry foragers can cause major trouble for the farmer. One such farmer in Michigan is intimately aware of this fact, as he and his family were forced to close early this season and won’t open again until 2024, thanks to the ravages committed by local deer.

According to tree farm owner Jim Reverman, deer sightings among the tree are nothing new. And typically, he doesn’t mind sharing his harvest with the local wildlife, as they only eat a few, leaving the vast majority for his customers. This year, however, the deer chewed through so many of his beautiful fir trees that he didn’t have enough to sell.

“Oh, you just…I don’t know. You’re a little disappointed because they been in the ground a while and stuff,” Reverman told WLNS. “They’ve always ate a few but not too many.”

After the deer demolished 2,000 of his trees, he had no choice but to inform the families in the area that they would have to find their Christmas trees elsewhere. “We been selling trees for 23 years,” the farmer explained sorrowfully. “Planted our first batch in 1990 or 91, so 30 years or so.”

“We’ve had some families that have been coming out here for 23 years and then we have kids bringing their kids out here,” Reverman continued. “There are a lot of people you only see once a year and so we’ll miss it. We wanna tell everybody thanks for their concerns. Give us a year or two and we’ll be back in business.”