A juicy crop of strawberry plants can be a sheer source of pride and good eating for the gardener who has taken the time to carefully sow and tend to the plant. It can also be a great source of food for hungry critters like birds, deer and squirrels. When their normal food supply is scarce, many animals find a bounty of strawberries to suffice nicely. Fortunately, gardeners can employ measures to protect their strawberry plants without causing harm to the animals.
Keep birds away from strawberry plants with protective netting. Purchase netting mesh that is ¼ inch in diameter and that does not contain any holes. Drape the netting over the strawberry plants. Secure the edges with stakes, approximately every 6 inches. Place loose soil over the netting to further prevent birds from gaining entry underneath the netting.
Make a barrier to prevent deer from browsing at strawberry plants. Install a traditional deer fence around the perimeter of the strawberry plants. Make sure the fence is made of woven wire, measuring 8 feet tall. Bait the fence with peanut butter to attract the deer to the fence rather than to the strawberry plants behind it.
Provide an alternate source of food for hungry squirrels. Build a feeding station using unshelled corn. Drive a spike through a piece of 2 x 2 wood with a hammer. (Drive at least two spikes, spaced 6 inches apart through the wood.) Fasten an ear of corn to each spike. Attach the feeding station to the trunk or lower branch of a tree with heavy, soft wire. Replenish the food station as needed. Plan to provide three pounds of corn per week, for each squirrel.