Date of this Version
We conducted mail-back questionnaire surveys in 1985 of game wardens and agricultural extension agents in eastern Virginia. Our objectives were to examine perceptions of deer damage, particularly on soybean crops, and deer management preferences of these two groups. Extension agents generally reported greater yield losses of crops from deer damage than did game wardens, but the average difference per crop between groups were not significantly different. For example, game wardens estimated that loss of soybean yield due to deer damage was 2.9% (SD = 1.96) and extension agents reported 4.9% loss (SD = 5.01, P = 0.31. The proportion of game wardens (72%) receiving requests from farmers for advice concerning damage was greater (P = 0.06) than the proportion of extension agents (45%) receiving similar requests. However, both respondent groups recommended similar methods for controlling deer damage, including lethal (i.e. , via crop damage permits or antler-less deer tags) and nonlethal (i.e., chemical repellents, fencing, and techniques to frighten deer) methods. The estimates of deer densities within counties provided by extension agents (median = 10 deer/mi2) and game wardens (median = 8 deer/mi2) were not statistically different (P = 0.51). The preferences for future management of deer populations was similar between the two groups in that they generally found that average county deer populations were optimal, but local population reductions were needed where deer damage was greatest. Both groups found that groundhog (Marmota monax) was often a significant vertebrate pest to soybeans, while birds generally were not.