Deer & water fountain
I have a water fountain outside but the deer drink all the water & messes up the pump, is there anything I can do to make this water distasteful to the deer???
Curry County Oregon
Hi there and thank you for your question.
I don't think there's anything you can do to make the water unattractive or distateful to the deer. Many animals (including deer) can obtain much of their water requirement from the foods they eat. However, an easily accessible source of open, fresh water is likely to be attractive, especially when other open sources of water have dried up or disappeared. The "draw" of water is so strong, in fact, that people seeking to hunt, view, or photograph often focus their efforts around water sources.
In your situation, there might be a couple of options. If the water feature is primarily creating structure and visual interest in your yard design, I suppose one option would be to keep the water feature, but turn off the water. If however you want to keep the water, I would suggest using hardware cloth (example, 1/2 inch mesh) to mold an artificial "bottom" to the water available to the deer. I haven't seen the size or design of your water fountain, but if the pump is drawing from the bottom of the bowl/fountain and you were able to limit the amount of water deer could remove, you might be able to at least keep enough water in the system with daily/twice weekly/weekly (?) partial refills to keep the pump from drawing dry. A final alternative would be to stoutly fence around the yard or the water feature. Keep in mind the inherent attractiveness of water to the deer however -- It takes a well-designed fence to exclude them! I'll be happy to chat more here if it would be of help to create a strategy.